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My Winter with the Mountain Collective - Jan-Mar 2014 - Page 2

post #31 of 51

Thanks for the post.  I had been thinking about getting this pass but like you, don't have unlimited income as I am just 25, getting married this year and bought a house just last year.  I think I would be much better off paying a little more to get a more basic epic pass and sticking to that.  Its not even really that cost efficient to me as I live in Cincinnati and would have to book multiple flights.  Flying to Denver is cheap as heck.

post #32 of 51

JHMR can be deceptive - this season the crowds were huge at the base on all good the mornings until end of March - generally this creates the ultimate ski lift arbitrage situation - with killer moves like 8:45 "sneak attack" guaranteeing you beat 3/4ths of the gondi line and all but the first 2 trams to Thunder. If you know the mountain well you can easily ski untracked all day on pow days - but that does required some hiking and venturing out of the gates starting around noon. 

post #33 of 51

This was an interesting and well written piece, and I realize it was by a grad student on a budget, BUT.....

 

I see this is as case study of the pitfalls of committing to an elaborate and not very flexible objective, particularly on a limited budget.. 

 

Quote:
The better cognate to JHMR/WB/Aspen would have been Park City or Deer Valley  

This is just so wrong.  What the MC resorts have in common is elite level terrain, and usually snow.  Park City/Deer Valley are bastions of mediocrity in those departments.

 

In addition to the terrain, one of the virtues of MC in my opinion is the geographic diversity.  One or some of those areas should have good snow every season. When Liz got her MC for 2013-14 we probably would have guessed Aspen as the least likely we would visit.  But when we looked around just before Christmas where we could ski that was good starting New Year's Day, Aspen came to the top of the list so we went there for a week.

 

Everyone knew how awful the Sierra was before February.  It was silly for the OP to go there then, just to check those resorts off a list. Ironic that was the only plane ticket he paid for.  Surely it's better to eat the $79 plane ticket than throw more good money after bad in this scenario.

 

Two trips to Utah with the MC, not even one run into Snowbird?  The MC is a combined pass you know.   I spent 15 days at AltaBird this season and due to MC/Mammoth Pass privileges 8 of them involved time spent at both places on the same day.  So you had to go to Squaw/Alpine/Mammoth but couldn't cross the border into Snowbird from Alta on a ticket good at both places?   Bizarre beyond belief.  And yes, while we're at it he probably should have checked out Highlands while in Aspen.

 

This is not the first I've heard of crowd issues at Jackson this season.   Some external explanations: 

1) That run of great snow in a year when many places were so-so.

2) The #1 SKI Magazine rating attracted quite a few first time visitors according to a local I met recently.

If this is "the new normal" lift capacity will need to be upgraded.

 

The run of nearly nonstop snow was from Jan. 30 - Mar. 7.   And yet the OP reports on March 7:

Quote:
Snow was largely cruddy or hard and eventually there was no more sun to follow....Obviously the snow conditions were worse than they'd been most of the year, which is hard for them to help.  

  Gee, I wonder what the snow surface would have been like if it hadn't snowed practically every day for the previous 6 weeks? 

 

But here's  DanoT:

Quote:
I was at JHMR in late Jan. and had a totally different experience than the OP. It was not crowded for the first four days due to being the middle of an extended dry spell, but with great grooming most of the mountain skied great.  

But yeah, go ahead and advance book your Jackson trip in March.  I'm actually surprised to see this report as it snowed so much and so continuously that I would have assumed skiing would have been great until the storms finally stopped for awhile the week after the OP's trip.

 

I'm NOT criticizing the OP for going to JH when he did due to the tie-in with his time at Alta and Aspen, driving to all 3 destinations.  But it seems the January trip could have been to some of those places because surely he knew California was going to be a complete waste.  Then, if he really has to tick off all the MC places in one season he could have had some decent skiing at Mammoth and Squaw/Alpine in March.

 

Quote:
I think I would be much better off paying a little more to get a more basic epic pass and sticking to that.   

I disagree.  Remember when both Colorado and Tahoe sucked in 2011-12?  You don't have to visit ALL of the MC resorts; you only have to visit 2 for the MC to be a great value.    If you are an advanced/expert skier the aggregate terrain quality of the MC resorts is on a completely different level from the Epic resorts.  If you're an intermediate the latter factor is less important but the greater geographic/weather diversity is still worth considering.

post #34 of 51

How many total days did OP get on Mountain Collective? I have 16 on mine, including 10 free, 6 half-price and could still get to Whistler/Blackcomb and back to Mammoth later this spring. I have renewedboth my Mountain Collective and Tahoe Value Pass for 2014-15. Vail gave me two free days next year in CO or UT for renewing and paying for Tahoe Value Pass early. My count follows:

 

4 days/2 free/2 half-price@$60 each at Aspen/Highlands/Snowmass(2) in January and new snow on 3 of 4 days. Trip reports at http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=11261 and http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=11266

 

3 days/2 free/1 half-price@$52.50 at Alta/Snowbird/Alta in February includes one day where we spent most of the day at Alta and got to Snowbird for a few runs. New snow on two of three days and found some on other day.

 

5 days/2 free/3 half-price@$52 Jackson in February and had some new snow every day. Did experience some crowds, but mostly avoided them. Stayed in Teton Village so no problems with parking or commute from Jackson. Long trip report at http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=11342

 

2 free days at Mammoth during the gathering including one powder day without much competition. Both days this year windy as have been most of my Mammoth spring days. May get there for another day or two as it's less than 240 miles from home when Tioga Pass through Yosemite is open. Picture of powder towards end of post 121 in thread http://www.epicski.com/t/127104/2014-mammoth-squaw-alpine-meadows-trip-report/120 

 

2 free days at Alpine/Squaw during the gathering including a 9" powder day with free demo day and better than expected snow at Squaw.

 

post #35 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by tseeb View Post
 

How many total days did OP get on Mountain Collective? I have 16 on mine, including 10 free, 6 half-price and could still get to Whistler/Blackcomb and back to Mammoth later this spring. I have renewedboth my Mountain Collective and Tahoe Value Pass for 2014-15. Vail gave me two free days next year in CO or UT for renewing and paying for Tahoe Value Pass early. My count follows:

 

4 days/2 free/2 half-price@$60 each at Aspen/Highlands/Snowmass(2) in January and new snow on 3 of 4 days. Trip reports at http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=11261 and http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=11266

 

3 days/2 free/1 half-price@$52.50 at Alta/Snowbird/Alta in February includes one day where we spent most of the day at Alta and got to Snowbird for a few runs. New snow on two of three days and found some on other day.

 

5 days/2 free/3 half-price@$52 Jackson in February and had some new snow every day. Did experience some crowds, but mostly avoided them. Stayed in Teton Village so no problems with parking or commute from Jackson. Long trip report at http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=11342

 

2 free days at Mammoth during the gathering including one powder day without much competition. Both days this year windy as have been most of my Mammoth spring days. May get there for another day or two as it's less than 240 miles from home when Tioga Pass through Yosemite is open. Picture of powder towards end of post 121 in thread http://www.epicski.com/t/127104/2014-mammoth-squaw-alpine-meadows-trip-report/120 

 

2 free days at Alpine/Squaw during the gathering including a 9" powder day with free demo day and better than expected snow at Squaw.

 

 A rough calculation using $370 as your MCP price reveals you paid $750 for your lift tickets instead of $1680 with MCP. Total savings of $930.

 

Nice!!!

post #36 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by agreen View Post
 

 A rough calculation using $370 as your MCP price reveals you paid $750 for your lift tickets instead of $1680 with MCP. Total savings of $930.

 

Nice!!!

I'm still not sure if MCP saved me or cost me a lot of money this year. As I posted in post 1635 of http://www.epicski.com/t/121501/2013-14-tahoe-weather-discussion-stoke/1620#post_1708102 "it got me to go to very good snow and great mountains with new and old friends in Aspen in January and Altabird and Jackson Hole in February". That was when California skiing was mostly on man-made and the biggest storms came in wet. I flew free on my Alaska miles to Denver to get to Aspen and used my wife's Southwest points to get to SLC where after skiing four days at beginning of Gathering, I caught a ride to Jackson Hole. In Aspen, I did not pay for lodging, but did buy three dinners for friends who were putting me up that were more than I usually spend when staying at family cabin in South Tahoe or with friend in Truckee.


Edited by tseeb - 4/14/14 at 9:07pm
post #37 of 51
Thread Starter 
I know I shouldn't, but...
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post

 

I see this is as case study of the pitfalls of committing to an elaborate and not very flexible objective, particularly on a limited budget.. 

 

This was the main thesis of the post. Very gratifying that the message got across.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
 

This is just so wrong.  What the MC resorts have in common is elite level terrain, and usually snow.  Park City/Deer Valley are bastions of mediocrity in those departments.

 

Here are a two easily measured ways in which Alta (and to a lesser extent Snowbird) differs from the others. First, walk-up ticket price:

 

WB: $109

Squaw: $114

Mammoth: $99

JH: $114? They've taken their price list down; this is from hazy memory.

Aspen: $124

 

Alta: $74

 

Mean of the other five: $112.

 

On average, then, the mean walk-up rate at the other five resorts is 51.4% higher than the walk-up rate at Alta (if you want to include the $5 RFID at Alta, then it's only 41.8% -- still not a small delta). Meanwhile, Deer Valley: $108. $4/$112 --> Only 3.6% higher than Deer Valley's day rate. Granted, Snowbird costs significantly more ($92) than Alta.

 

Here's another way that both Alta and Snowbird are different from the others. Distance to majorish metro (we'll define that as a metro of > 500K residents):

 

WB: 1 hour 56 min. (to Vancouver)

Squaw: 1 hour 47 min. (to Sacramento)

Mammoth: 4 hours 29 min. (to Sacramento via 50 and 89), 5 hours 1 min. (to Los Angeles)

Jackson Hole: 4 hours 45 min. (to Salt Lake City)

Aspen: 3 hours 30 min. (to Denver)

 

Alta: 38 min. (to Salt Lake City)

Snowbird: 38 min. (to Salt Lake City)

 

In terms of actually being there, Alta felt considerably more low-key and easy-going than any of the others. I would assert that this may be a function of the two deltas referenced above. Alta (and to some extent Snowbird) may reasonably appeal to a different clientele than do the others and may reasonably attract more locals (due to proximity) and more budget-minded skiers (due to price). 

 

Quote:

  Gee, I wonder what the snow surface would have been like if it hadn't snowed practically every day for the previous 6 weeks? 

There were no problems with coverage. It snowed the day before the I arrived at Jackson Hole. That snow was a little heavy to start with and it apparently warmed up enough in the afternoon before refreezing and then snowing another inch or two overnight to create a dust-on-crust day, new snow notwithstanding. I apologize if readers prefer to differentiate the term "crud" used in the original post from "dust-on-crust". To me, neither is fantastic.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post

 

Everyone knew how awful the Sierra was before February.  It was silly for the OP to go there then, just to check those resorts off a list. Ironic that was the only plane ticket he paid for.  Surely it's better to eat the $79 plane ticket than throw more good money after bad in this scenario.

 

It's maybe a bit facile to presume that $79 was the only potential cost. I was in Seattle and I live in Pittsburgh. Thus, I needed to eventually get back to Pittsburgh. Canceling the flight to Reno would have still left me three timezones west of where I live without a way to get there. My flight from RNO to PIT was bought on miles; changing it, assuming there were seats available (there likely were not with < 4 weeks notice) would have cost $150. The fare from SEA to PIT one-way would have otherwise been around $200. So, just getting home to PIT would have cost $200. Using my already paid-for tickets to get home by way of a week in the Tahoe area while skiing three barely-open (but also entertaining enough and sunny) days cost me 6 nights at $35/night = $210. Surely I made an acceptable decision.

 

Fine, there was a car rental and gas in there also, but I wanted to ski all six this year and if I didn't do it then, it would have cost me the $200 to get from SEA-PIT, plus a usual fare of $450 to later do PIT-RNO-PIT -- in addition to the cost of the hotel, car rental, and gas. Foolish as it may have been (and, honestly, just because I admit to some imperfections shouldn't normally be seen as license for anyone else to start name calling on me) I already spent more than 10% of my annual income to do this trip the way I did it. Adding another $650, assuming I could have found another week in there where no one would have noticed I was missing (certainly possible, but no sure thing), would have caused me some difficulty this year. Happy for others who can currently see it as a trivial sum.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
 

Two trips to Utah with the MC, not even one run into Snowbird?  The MC is a combined pass you know.   I spent 15 days at AltaBird this season and due to MC/Mammoth Pass privileges 8 of them involved time spent at both places on the same day.  So you had to go to Squaw/Alpine/Mammoth but couldn't cross the border into Snowbird from Alta on a ticket good at both places?   Bizarre beyond belief. 

 

My first day at Alta was great. The second day was also fun. So it was perhaps indicative of my impending mental collapse that I stayed there doing whatever the heck I felt like doing. My bad.

 

o

post #38 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tseeb View Post
 

How many total days did OP get on Mountain Collective? I have 16 on mine, including 10 free, 6 half-price and could still get to Whistler/Blackcomb and back to Mammoth later this spring. 

 

 

I got 10 in on the pass.

 

I got in the back of my mind that I'll probably buy another one in a couple years and plan on staying a week in Aspen, doing a couple weekends in SLC, and then maybe hitting WB at the holidays. At that price point it doesn't take a whole lot to make it worth it.

 

o

post #39 of 51

My MCP math:

Forget exactly what I paid -- $359? $379? something like that.

2 Altabird free, 2 at half price ~ $52. 

20% Gold Miners Daughter discount -- well worth it, but I probably would have stayed somewhere dirt cheap down in the valley otherwise, so I guess I won't count that.

2 Mammoth free, 1 half price ~ $50.

Squalpine, 2 free, 1 half price ~ $57.

 

So that is 379+52+52+50+57 = $590 for 10 days of skiing.  Pretty good.

 

I'm not sure I will do so well next year, but I just bought my 2014/15 MCP pass.

 

In part, it is an expression of faith in next year.  

It also makes the pass a sunk cost, which may be bad economics but is great psychology. 

post #40 of 51
$590 for ten days?? That's my season pass.
post #41 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

$590 for ten days?? That's my season pass.

 

Not bad for skiing those resorts from a man living north of Boston. Locals... a whole different story

post #42 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by agreen View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sibhusky View Post

$590 for ten days?? That's my season pass.

 

Not bad for skiing those resorts from a man living north of Boston. Locals... a whole different story

Yep, when the only way to get big mountain skiing is to fly somewhere, then the MCP provides the perfect incentive to hit a destination on the bucket list like JH or Mammoth or Alta/Snowbird.  Especially if going to a second destination is a given.  This season, I planned a trip to JH that included Bill Savage and another ski buddy.  None of us had been to JH before.  Wasn't great conditions since the trip was planned during the summer based on other considerations (Ski Diva Week and EpicSki Gathering in Utah, ski buddy's  work schedule).  Even so, we had a good time exploring JH under blue skis.  Definitely expect to go back in the future.  Next season, Aspen/Snowmass/Aspen Highlands will be on my schedule because I have other reasons to be in Denver in late March.  Since Bill and I meet up with friends at Alta in April, we got the MCP for 2014-15 pretty soon after it was announced.

 

My savings for 2013-14 is going to be at least $350.  The exact amount depends on how many more days I go over to Snowbird from Alta before my last ski day of the season on April 17.

post #43 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdf View Post
 

My MCP math:

 

Squalpine, 2 free, 1 half price ~ $57.

 

 

Squaw devalued their MCP half price tickets by offering $50 tickets to other resort passholders beginning in March and $35/$45 tickets through Human Society/Sierra Avalanche Center beginning April 6. They also reduced staffing so they could not run some of their lifts.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by mdf View Post
 

$590 for 10 days of skiing.  Pretty good.

 

My MCP math so far is almost $700 for 16 days of skiing or close to $44/day. While that sounds good compared to buying day tickets, it is almost 3 times my costs per day of three preceding seasons when I only had a Tahoe Local or Value pass or Squaw Bronze pass and only went out of state twice and had good deals on tickets.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by mdf View Post
 

It also makes the pass a sunk cost, which may be bad economics but is great psychology. 

  Agree. Once you pay for your pass, whether in April or Sept, you have to get out and use it and the more you use it the better the numbers work.

post #44 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by anachronism View Post

Holy Crap, I was going to suggest driving here to Wolf Creek (as MANY people in Oklahoma do), but I just mapped it. Ten hours each way from OKC to Wolf Creek. I was thinking it was more like 7.

It is about 7 hours from NW OK (Guymon, etc). That would explain the OK lic plates. BUT, Guymon is so far from OKC that it's tv is from Amarillo.
post #45 of 51

No name calling intended at all.

 

Even planning far in advance, AltaBird and Jackson would have been the safest bets of the MC resorts (other than Whistler) for the January week.   The OP could have arranged SEA-SLC-PIT for similar or maybe even lower cost than through RNO.  By mid-December or Christmas the red flags were up for the Sierra and maybe he could have moved the flights through SLC then for the $150 change fee.  I would even have considered driving from Reno to SLC for that week considering the state of the Sierra.

 

I try to be be respectful of budget constraints in these forum discussions.  Thankfully I'm past that in my ski-obsessed retirement.  But I'd find it more painful with scarce resources to have wasted some of them on horrible conditions at a destination resort.  This is completely different from someone doing drive-up skiing from home at a local area with a season pass and practically no marginal cost.  Those people have a budget and live with the good years and bad years at their home areas.

 

All of the Mountain Collective places are huge resorts with great terrain that can consume a week or more of one's ski time without getting bored.  I see its best value in choosing the 2 or 3 that are having good years and spending multiple days at those.  With single days it's not clear the OP got a full ski experience even from the places where conditions were decent.

 

The OP had the objective of skiing all the MC resorts.  Due to time constraints he never set foot on Snowbird or Aspen Highlands, so one could say that the objective was not achieved despite much pain and suffering in its pursuit.


Edited by Tony Crocker - 4/15/14 at 2:58pm
post #46 of 51

I think @mdf  has it right.  There is something inspiring to get a pass that takes you a lot of places and may encourage you to visit somewhere that you may not otherwise go. 

 

If you're like me, once you put the money into a pass, you're going to use it.  If you don't get a pass, you may not venture out. 

post #47 of 51

I got in 5 days at Mammoth and 10 days at Alta/Bird for a total, including the price of admission, of $929. Average: $62/day.

 

Looked at from a cost savings angle, the analysis is a bit more complex. Assuming I could have used friends' Mammoth $69 F/F passes for those 5 days rather than pay the walk up price, and assuming I could have bought discounted tickets to LCC at the Lift House ski shop at the mouth of BCC for $74 at Alta and $80 at Snowbird, and factoring in that I actually skied both areas on 4 days, and also factoring in a 20% savings at the Goldminer's Daughter (staying cheap down canyon is not an option) I figure that I saved about $305. Not a large amount of money, but certainly worthwhile. Not to be ignored is the fact that for once, I did not have to commit to purchasing all my LCC ski days ahead of time, allowing me to take off a day at Snowbird when the spirit so moved me that morning. I also particularly liked being able to cross over from Alta to Snowbird  on a whim. All in all, I found the MCP quite worthwhile and renewed immediately on getting the email invitation. Yes, my WP/MJ season pass was a better deal at $379 amortized over 10 days, but that's another story.

post #48 of 51
MCP's a great pass, offering the best resorts in NA. Christian, the dude that thought it up at ASC, is a genius.
post #49 of 51

I did 2 month long ski trips in my truck camper. I didn't get to Aspen but I had a total of 16 days at the other MCP resorts.

 

I also had 19 days at other non MCP resorts including a $129 Spring Pass at Mt. Bachelor and a $160 Spring Pass at Crystal Mt. and complimentary days at Whitewater and Castle with my Sun Peaks Staff Pass. I also got in 40 days at Sun Peaks.

post #50 of 51

Hey Dano, how did you like Bachelor? I'm thinking of heading there next spring if they have a good year. Hope to see you next year at Jackson

post #51 of 51

I second the OP's feeling that Alta's employees are the friendliest and Apens/Snowmass' the least.  By far.

 

Just bought my MCP for the whole family.  Got a 3rd free day for one mountain.  That's a huge savings at Aspen.

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