We recently introduced the new IKON pass, a season ticket giving holders access to 26 ski destinations across North America. Its biggest contender – the Epic Pass – was launched in 2008, and it’s the only international ski pass that’s much larger than IKON. Here’s the lowdown on what makes it so special.
The Epic Pass is owned by Colorado’s Vail resort, which has an impressive portfolio including North America’s largest ski area, Whistler Blackcomb, and two of Colorado’s top skiing destinations – Breckenridge and Vail. It also has partnerships with ski destinations in Europe, Japan and Australia and niche resorts throughout the USA and Canada. If you enjoy skiing your way through as many resorts as possible each season, the Epic Pass is the way to do it.
From the 2018-19 season, the Epic Pass will cover 64 mountain resorts across eight countries and four continents. In Europe, these include famous destinations including France’s Les Trois Vallées, Austria’s Arlberg region and Italy’s Skirama Dolomiti. Japan’s Hakuba Valley, which hosted the 1998 Olympic Winter Games, recently joined the Epic Pass, bringing nine resorts with it. Epic also has a partnership with Australia’s year-round resort Perisher, the largest Alpine resort in the southern hemisphere.
Once you join the Epic Pass Club, you have access to exclusive news, events and discounts – including reduced prices on dining and accommodation. You can also bring a non-pass holder along with discounted Ski-With-a-Friend (SWAF) tickets, which are automatically loaded onto your season ticket. High-tech skiers can get their hands on the EPICMIX phone app, which helps you plan your day on the pistes and keep track of your stats such as vertical feet, speed and location.
The Epic Pass covers more ground each year, with new resorts announcing partnerships with the programme at the end of each season. New resorts for 2018-19 include Colorado’s Crested Butte, Vermont’s Okemo and New Hampshire’s Mount Sunapee. Canadian Rockies resorts Kicking Horse and Fernie are also new additions. These two are regularly listed among Canada’s top ten ski destinations, so are well worth adding to your ski bucket list.
The 2018-19 Epic season pass will include access to Emma, an AI virtual assistant who will be able to offer quick updates on everything going on at the resort, from lift queuing times to where you should go for dinner. Rather than just using information from Google like Siri, Emma will be able to offer expert, local insight. Questions are asked and answered by text. Emma will be making her debut at nine Epic resorts next season: Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood and Whistler Blackcomb.
Unlimited skiing, with no blackout dates, is available at most resorts on the pass. Some destinations, like the Canadian Rockies and Telluride, have a set limit of five or seven days during the season. This is more than enough for a ski break, but it’s worth bearing these limits in mind if you’re planning on spending two weeks working your way through the nine resorts of Hakuba Valley.
In addition to the standard pass, which gives you access to Epic’s entire network, cheaper passes with a limited number of destinations are also available. The Epic Australia pass includes unlimited access to The Perisher as well as five days at Hakuba Valley, ten days split between Vail, Whistler Blackcomb and Beaver Creek and unlimited access to other US destinations including Breckenridge and Park City. Or, if you don’t want to commit to a full season, you can pick up a seven or four-day pass for unrestricted skiing at 16 American resorts.
If you’re planning on doing a lot of skiing next season, a pass like Epic is certainly a good option. However, if you’re only considering one or two short ski breaks, it might be worth splashing the extra cash on luxury accommodation instead. Find out more about the Epic Pass here.