Recently, on the Crested Butte Facebook page, a skier posted a thought provoking comment:
“Hey CBMR, I have a quick question, ill just start by saying I have a ton of fun on the mountain and im up there almost 3 days a week, anyway my question is about this new “first tracks” ticket you sell, why are you doing this? I guess I know the short answer is money, but it ruins a time honored tradition at ski hills all around the world and that is that the people who get there early and wait in the cold get the first chair, I have an $1,100 season pass and I cant get the first chair anymore because you’ve sold it to someone else, it really makes me feel like a second class rider because im not on vacation, is there something you can to make up for it like give season pass holders some first tracks tickets on their pass?
I absolutely do not want to seem disrespectful but I feel very disrespected, I love this mountain and I know you’ve gotta make money but if I continue to get in the lift line a 8:15 and watch other people ride the queen 4 or 5 times before im allowed to get on with my $1,100 season pass then next year ill be spending my money at monarch, ive heard from a lot of people that the resort doesn’t care about locals and ive always said no way, but I am really starting to feel it now, again I love you guys but for real whats up!? Do you want my thousands of dollars next year?”
It’s another situation that highlights the balance between local and destination guests. Though in a way, it’s a bit more than that. Like Kyle said above, it may be about tradition.
The crux seems to be that by paying more you can get an improved skiing experience. This is nothing new. I sort of ignored the early-lift-access part of Park City’s Powder Club when I wrote about it, but they are one of many other resorts selling an upgraded skiing experience.
Cat skiing is above and beyond the typical lift-served area but illustrates an upgrade that doesn’t take from one to give to another. When you buy a “lift ticket”, it’s easy to reconcile the fact that it does not include cat rides. Same goes for private lessons. A traditional ticket has never included someone in a resort uniform showing you the correct way to chicken wing when you carve.
But there’s that word again: tradition. Since the White Cupboard Inn, the vast majority of lift tickets have given equal rights to everyone on the mountain. It’s sort of skiing’s equalizer with first tracks the reward for early risers, rather than high rollers.
Good or Bad?
So what happens when that element is gone? When there is a layer of uncertainty? When getting up early may not guarantee first tracks? When buying my pass may not give me the shot at first tracks all season long? What’s the result?
When is giving to one group with money, taking away from the group without? And how does each group react in the short and long term?
As I said in my comments about Park City’s Powder Club, it’s a fine line to walk and I don’t have the answers. CBMR charges $10k for their club (which includes other benefits). PCMR’s is about $130/day. Is it a matter of cost at all or a matter of principle…of tradition?
What do you think? Is there any way to sell first tracks without turning your back on loyal passholders?
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