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Cuts or no cuts

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Does your home area offer a product like the one following?

"Guide Service – Fast paced guided mountain tour with lift cutting privileges. Hook up with our staff for some laps – it’s not a lesson, it’s not a race – it’s going skiing and riding with a friendly guide who can get you the terrain and the vertical you want AND take you to the head of the lift line."

As you might imagine a fee is involved (much less than a private lesson). What do you think? Is this becoming common place in the industry?

I'm looking for fresh points of view on the debate.

post #2 of 28
I'm all for it. Life's too short for lift lines.
post #3 of 28
Im pretty sure they have one in Holiday Valley, NY...
post #4 of 28
Haven't heard of it. Not waiting in a long line sounds pretty nice though! It does seem like a private lesson. I had a group lesson my first time skiing. I remember waiting for the lesson. I skied with my boyfriend while we waited. After a few times down the hills he said I didn't need to take the class! However, at that point I had already paid for it. He was the only teacher I needed. It's good to go with a skier that has more experience than you/knows the resort.
Sorry I diverted from the subject a little bit. So is this guided service relatively new?
post #5 of 28
I have mixed feelings about this one. I always hate elitist services at any business because they start forgetting about their other consumers. On the other hand, my home mountains get lots of skiers from out of state. On powder days they have a hard time getting any runs in because of the lines and the aggressive nature of the locals. (I find myself blocking out locals in line to let the visitors in.) Considering their visit is the highlight of their ski season I don't have any qualms with them being able to pay a little extra to cut ahead.
post #6 of 28
Rio, will you run cover for me when I'm in Montana?
post #7 of 28
I will at Bridger. You won't have this problem at Big Sky or Moonlight except for the Lone Peak Tram on weekend powder days.
post #8 of 28
Pretty interesting concept. Could almost be conscrued as an escort service for skiers. I can only imagine it working for large ski areas that cover a lot of terrain.
post #9 of 28
Why not just sell a different coloured ticket? Who needs the extra baggage?
post #10 of 28
Sun Peaks offers free tours of the mountain, as well as free "Ski with Nancy Greene" tours when she is available. I'm not sure if they get lift line priority, there aren't any lift lines anyway
post #11 of 28
Originally Posted by Bryan
Pretty interesting concept. Could almost be conscrued as an escort service for skiers. I can only imagine it working for large ski areas that cover a lot of terrain.
I'm confused now. I keep getting inquiries from people going to the ESA about Big Sky escort services but they want them after the lifts are closed.
post #12 of 28
Interesting idea, but it sounds a bit strange. Where is this offered? If I understand your description, they have it at Stratton, & I have mixed opinions. They charge a pretty hefty price for the service. On the one hand, if you want to pay up, knock yourself out. On the other, I find the whole trend towards stratifying the customers base a bit excessive. Given what the average skiier/snowboarder pays (never mind if a family is involved) for a day of in the mountains, it kind of stinks to have someone waltz in front of you just because they "can". I'm ok w/ letting ski schools cut, because they are there to learn, and they have a limited time. Paying extra so you can cut lines (since no leasons seem to be involved) just sounds like it'll end up pi$$ing everyone else off. If the resorts really want to encourage people to explore the terrain, let them offer the guide up for no fee, and no lift cutting. Just my $0.02
post #13 of 28
If someone is paying the freight for a guide, instructor, valet, whatever. Yes. At MLB there is a program in place to ski with a gude for a 1-2.5 hr tour, free. Liftlines aren't in evidence so that issue will come later.
post #14 of 28
I think every mountain allows you to take a private lesson and cut the line. That used to be the best job in ski school, before all the high speed quad lifts. The more controversial idea, particularly at ski areas operated on land leased from the government, is to allow you to cut the line without an instructor, simply because you paid an additional fee. That was a real issue at Copper lasr year.
post #15 of 28
No Cuts !

--Emergencies Only !
post #16 of 28
Park City has a "Fast Tracks" season pass with it's own gate and rope next to the ski patrol/ski school rope. They may have a premium daypass too- the idea is that us "special" people cut the line. It does get you on the lift really fast at the base at morning's opening. After that it's pretty useless. The bar code readers malfunction a lot, so you can't get through the gate and have to shuffle over to the line, they rope it off on some peak days, and there is no fast lane on Jupiter Bowl's rikety old double (that we love) where it would really count. The best way to get ahead on Jupiter on a pow day is still obnoxious elbows, shoving, or being a very pretty girl.
post #17 of 28
Originally Posted by Mr. Crab
The best way to get ahead on Jupiter on a pow day is still obnoxious elbows, shoving, or being a very pretty girl.
I'm glad that some things never change!
post #18 of 28
Griz notes that this is like a private lesson but suggests it should cost much less. I think they should charge more for an instructor who doesn't make you stop and listen to him talk.
post #19 of 28
Thread Starter 
It's like a private only in that you cut lines and are skiing with someone from the school. No teaching involved. If you were waiting in line you wouldn't be able to tell a "guide service" group from a private lesson.

Thanks for sharing your ideas. My opinion is similar to PerSwede's. I think the idea of cutting by paying an extra fee will pi$$ off many people waiting in line. But, life is unfair. Skiers have the widest spread of income of any group I can think of. From parking lot living dishwashers to Saudi princes. If someone wants to pay extra for a service should it be made available to them?

BigE, interesting idea.
That's the option I'd buy if it was offered. Two reasons I can think of for the way it is being packaged. One, some people may really want to quickly learn where the terrain and snow conditions they want are located on a mountain new to them. Two, making people using this product indistinguishable from private lessons may remove the backlash directed at them from those in line.
post #20 of 28
Sounds good to me. Give folks the option, if they decide that their time is worth more than the cost (and can afford it) then let them go for it.

Often I take an upper level group lesson, partly for the line-cutting privelege. They are often basically semi-private anyway. In the case of lessons they're too short and too expensive for the class to spend 1/2-2/3 of its time waiting in lift lines.

If it's a large mountain and you know it well, there's often no reason to pay for a service like this because you know where to go to avoid the crowds. For people visiting such a mountain, this would help them get the most out of their day, and learn their way around (then again, maybe I don't want someone showing them which lifts almost never have a line ;-)
post #21 of 28
For every chair that carries a priveledged skier, there's a regular skier who has a longer wait; this could hurt an areas reputation. What about if you get a lot of wealthy customers and they ALL want to be in the priveledged line, do you then introduce an even more expensive level? This idea can work or not depending on the character of the area. Here in the east I could see it working at someplace like Loon but less likely at Cannon or Wildcat. Cannon has a Mountain Explorers program for kids offered through the ski school, no structured lesson but skiing w/ an instructor for a half day on some of the less well-known terrain. It costs money and they do cut lines.
However no matter where you are, even on the best of powder days, you can get a lot of vertical before 11 AM if you get up early.
post #22 of 28


Jackson Hole has offered guided skiing (with lift-cutting privileges) for nearly 30 years. At this particular resort, the guided skiing is no cheaper than private lessons, so there's no economic advantage of one over the other.

For both categories (instructors and guides), there's somewhat of a limitation now on the cut privilege on the tram line. They have a separate line for guide/instructor parties and take only 15 people per tram from that line. There are times (maybe not horribly often but it does happen) when the instructor/guide line is actually longer than the "common folk" line.

Also, I know that Snowbird sells an "Express Pass" or something like that. It's a season pass that goes for about $7,500. It gives the holder, as I understand it, essentially unlimited cut privileges on all lines. I know it annoys the hell out of me when I see someone with one of those passes take off their skis, walk in the tram building, and walk right on the tram after I've gotten in line way back out on the terrace. Nevertheless, I'd probably buy one myself - if I had unlimited funds, unlimited time to ski, and didn't mind dirty looks from the hoi polloi.

post #23 of 28
I think Okemo has a GOLD Season pass that allows people to cut lines...the pass is not advertised on the web site but I believe it is good for three years and it is transferable -if you buy it and then later on decide to sell it
post #24 of 28
This does seem to have the ring of the 'Us and Them' treatment to paying customers at ski resorts. It has largely gone unchallenged because the practice has not become so popular as to 'ruin' regular lift ticket holders' experiences for the day.

I see a definite 'niche' here for ski areas that wish to remain true to alpine recreation and leave all the 'profit gurus' in the dust. ..A well run ski area that opted to stop ALL cut privileges could easily advertise themselves as the skier's friend and capture a lot of good publicity and skier business during the season. ...It's a gap that is building, and many skiers might opt for the 'off brand' ski hill just to avoid the class warfare that is invisibly waged at many areas.

--That's just my $0.02 worth!
post #25 of 28
If it is on USFS land, I call foul, just as I do on the premium lift tickets at places like Copper Mtn. If they are using public land, then once you have a lift ticket you are equal to all other skiers for lift lines (except ski lessons and ski patrol). If it is on private land, then they can do what they want especially since that person is paying for a service.
post #26 of 28


When I first read this thread, I thought, boy, too bad we don't have that where I work -- what a sweet job, guiding customers all over the mountain!

Well, doh! This turns out to be a quote from my home mountain's website! ( Must be a new thing for this coming year. There's a similar concept at 6 Flags L.A., where you can buy a special pass that lets you cut lines (no guide). Youbetchyersweetass I bought one when I went there! Waiting in line sucks, and anyone who gets upset about other people paying to not do it is just jealous that they either couldn't or didn't pay for the privelege. What I hate is when people elbow or sneak their way to the front. That's just rude.
post #27 of 28
Jackson Hole has a great deal on a 4 or 5 day package. Early gondola to the top befor the mountain opens. (ON a 7:15) Private guide all day, cuts in line all day and lunch on the deck. Lift ticks included and the "groups" were 5 per guide. Off piste stuff and plenty of vert.

Most awesome week in my 32 years of skiing/riding.

post #28 of 28
I think the rules on this sort of thing vary, particularly in Europe. I was on a guided ski day in 2003 in Flachau, Austria. About 2pm we realized we were running late and still had a long way to go to make a 4pm return bus trip with other members of our group of skiers/boarders. We began to make a series of high speed, big vert descents to zigzag our way back about 5 lateral miles of mountainside. Despite our rush/lateness our guide had us politely wait in several longish liftlines. I know that in Europe guides and instructors often work for separate companies than the ski lift operators. Apparently, that segregation means no line cutting privileges for the most part. Later on the same trip, but at a different Austrian ski area, I was discretely led to the front of a long gondola line by my companion who was an employee of the local lift company. In fact, I had guides for a total of 5 days at 5 different ski areas on that trip and I was only invited to cut a line that one time. I guess liftline egalitarianism lives in Europe.
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