Aspen Skiing Co., partners create 23-resort Ikon Pass to rival Vail’s Epic Pass

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
A banner touting the new Ikon Pass couldn't be missed Thursday outside the venue of the Outdoor Retailer + Snow Show in Denver.
Alterra Mountain Co./courtesy photo |


The pass will be good at 23 resorts in nine states and three Canadian provinces. The total acreage is 48,840 with 2,790 trails accessed by 434 chairlifts:

— Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass and Buttermilk from Aspen Skiing Co. (They are counted as one.)

— Alterra Mountain Co.’s resorts of Steamboat, Winter Park, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain, Big Bear Mountain, Stratton, Snowshoe, Tremblant, Blue Mountain, Deer Valley Resort and the CMH Heli-Skiing.

— The affiliated, independent ski areas are Copper Mountain Resort, Eldora Mountain Resort, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Big Sky Resort, Killington Resort, Sunday River, Sugarloaf, Loon Mountain Resort, Alta Ski Area and Snowbird.

The Aspen empire unveiled a multi-resort ski pass to rival the Vail empire’s Epic Pass on Thursday, but skiers and snowboarders will have to wait to learn how much it costs.

Aspen Skiing Co. and its sister firm Alterra Mountain Co. teamed with seven independent resorts to create the Ikon Pass for 2018-19. The pass will apply at 23 destinations, including Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass and Buttermilk. Skico’s four mountains are counted as one destination rather than four.

Details such as the price, other benefits and blackout days will be released this spring, according to Kristin Rust, director of public relations for Alterra Mountain Co.

A statement released by Alterra said “pass privileges” would range from full, unlimited access to a set number of days that vary by destination.

The Ikon Pass won’t be an alternative for Roaring Fork Valley residents who buy a season ski pass from Aspen Skiing Co.

“You’re still going to want an Aspen Skiing Co. premier pass or whatever pass you purchase,” said Jeff Hanle, Skico vice president of communications.

The Ikon Pass will be geared more toward destination travelers, he said.

Alterra billed the Ikon Pass as the “new standard in passes.” It’s taking on formidable competition. Vail Resorts’ popular Epic Pass includes access to 14 North American resorts, including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado; Park City in Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood at Lake Tahoe in California; Stowe in Vermont; and Whistler-Blackcomb in British Columbia, Canada. It also has worldwide connections to resorts in Australia and Europe.

The Epic Pass was $859 for adults this year. The Epic Local Pass sold for $639 and provided unlimited access to Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin and 10 days total to some of the other big-name resorts in the empire.

Based on Hanle’s comments, the Ikon Pass will have limited access to the four Aspen-Snowmass resorts.

The Mountain Collective Pass that Skico created as a collaboration with other independent resort operators will be offered again for 2018-19, though the members haven’t been announced yet.

The Rocky Mountain Super Pass, which included unlimited skiing at Winter Park, Copper Mountain and Eldora with restricted access at Steamboat and other mountains, won’t be offered next season, Rust said.

The MAX Pass, which covers 44 mountains across the country, also will be discontinued, she said.

The release of the name and the resorts where the Ikon Pass applies was timed to grab attention on the opening day of the Outdoor Retail and Snow Show in Denver. The biggest ski industry show in the country brings thousands of people from manufacturers of ski gear and clothing together with the retailers they are wooing to sell their products.

“This was a perfect opportunity to unveil the product to the ski industry in our own backyard,” Rust said.

The Ikon Pass has a booth at the ski show entrance, so it is impossible to miss.

It was no surprise that Aspen Skiing Co.’s four resorts were combined in a pass with Alterra’s 12 mountains. The Crown family that owns 100 percent of Skico also owns Alterra with KSL Capital Partners of Denver.

“We’re excited to be connected to these destinations and look forward to being part of this extended family,” Aspen Skiing Co. President and CEO Mike Kaplan said in a prepared statement.

Lester Crown, patriarch of the Crown family, told The Aspen Times last week that it was a matter of survival for his family to team with KSL to create a major player in the ski industry.

“It was a question of whether the ski company could stand alone and attract the clientele it needed and deserved,” Crown said.

The bigger surprise was that Skico and Alterra courted two other big ski companies with seven ski areas between them as well as three independent resorts.

POWDR is part of the package with the resorts of Killington, Eldora and Copper Mountain.

Boyne Resorts brought Big Sky Resort, Loon Mountain, Sunday River and Sugarloaf to the mix.

Jackson Hole, Alta and Snowbird are the three independents that will be part of the pass.

The resorts were courted because they are like-minded mountain destinations, Rust said.

“They were approached individually,” she said.

Rust didn’t know if any resorts were asked to join the pass and declined.

The resorts in the Ikon Pass combine to cover 23 destinations in nine states and three Canadian provinces. The total acreage is 48,840 on 2,790 trails accessed by 434 chairlifts.

More on the pass can be found at