Mountain Spy :: May 2017

Written by Dave Meeker


The proliferation of different season pass products, many of which include access to entirely unaffiliated resorts, can be confusing for consumers—not to mention staff answering the phone. Some resorts are part of multiple pass products. Add to that the rampant consolidation of resort ownership, and it’s difficult to make sense of it all. The purpose of this issue’s question was to see how folks answering the phone treated the other pass options besides their own, as well as test their knowledge a bit. In some cases it is not possible to disguise the pass product, or even the resort we called, but the individuals remain anonymous.

How can we say this more clearly: we’d really like to get some “Spy” questions from you readers. We know you’ve heard some doozies; please share them with us. Dave Meeker, specifically ( If we use your question, you win immunity for that issue.


Mountain 1, OR

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.
Answering phone: Male.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Unfortunately, our 17-18 passes are not on sale yet, and I don’t have the dates for any of that yet.
SAM: OK, I had heard that some of your passes were part of a multi-resort program. Can you give me any information on that, or do you know if that will be available next season?
Staff: Of course, it’s called a Wicked Pass and what it does is it’s good for here and Wicked Mountain. I think it’s the best deal on the mountain because you can go ride over at Wicked for a little bit and then you can come over here when we open up for the night. And if you buy it early season, I think it’s close to $200 off. I believe that if you are looking at pre-sale prices you should start looking in September or October. That’s generally when you are going to get your best deals.
SAM: Alright.
Staff: I know a lot of resorts do their pre-sales at the end of the season. We haven’t done that here, but you can certainly keep an eye out for any deals before the fall. I would keep an eye on the website for the pass. Would you like the URL for that?
SAM: Yeah, that would be great.
Staff: It’s So, you should definitely check that out and pick one up when they go on sale, it’s a great deal.
SAM: Are there any other benefits with that pass?
Staff: You know, I am not sure what is going to be on the 17-18 pass for extra benefits. If you want to leave your name and number I can find out and give you a call back.
SAM: That’s OK, I was just curious, I will check out the website and keep an eye out for pre-sales. Thanks!

Rating: 5
Comment: Nice guy and gave good info on one pass product. Minus points for forgetting the others, though.


Mountain 2, BC

First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: So, we are part of the Mountain Collective. So, you get, if you’re a season passholder here you get 50 percent off at other Mountain Collective resorts. So, there’s a few down in the states and maybe two or three in Canada, but you don’t actually, yeah, you still need to pay at those other places.
SAM: OK, to get that benefit do I need to buy a certain level of pass?
Staff: No, that’s just the standard pass. We don’t have, like, extra passes, or, like, yeah.
SAM: OK, great.
Staff: No worries, bye.

Rating: 0.5
Comment: You get pretty much no points for pretty much no information.


Mountain 3, CO

First contact: Automated machine. Chose operator.
Answering phone: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Yep, we have a lot of pass options for you. Do you know how many days you’re going to ski or ride?
SAM: Not 100 percent sure, but probably 10-15 days.
Staff: Oh, then you’ll definitely want a season pass.
SAM: That’s what I thought, but I figured I would ask about what the options were.
Staff: Of course! Well, since we have multiple options for passes that give you skiing privileges here and at other resorts, what I would recommend you do is visit our website and check out the season pass page. That will detail all the options for you, and if any additional questions pop up, then just give us a call back and we’d be happy to answer them.
SAM: OK, I will do that, thanks.

Rating: 6
Comment: She was very pleasant and I didn’t feel like she brushed me off. It’s OK to recommend going online first, but at least provide the url.


Mountain 4, VT

First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: If you purchase one of our passes, you can purchase the M.A.X. Pass add-on, which would give you access to around 40 other mountains.
SAM: Gotcha. Cool. Do I have to buy the pass there to get the M.A.X. Pass?
Staff: No. You can just go on the M.A.X. Pass website and they do offer their own pass. Um, if we were your home mountain and you planned on skiing here the most, the add-on gets you five days of skiing at all of the resorts on the other pass, except your home mountain. You get full access to your home mountain.
SAM: OK. What do you recommend?
Staff: I guess it depends on how often you’d be planning on skiing here. If you were here most of the time, but wanted to have access to other places, it is a pretty good deal to get the add-on. It’s kind of up to you.
SAM: Gotcha. All this info is online?
Staff: Yup.
SAM: Thanks for your help.
Staff: Not a problem. Bye.

Rating: 6
Comment: Smart to lead with the add-on option to sell your resort’s product first. But overall, she was disinterested in having this conversation. And what is that url?


Mountain 5, NM

First contact: Male.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: They’re actually not available yet for next season. They are working on the website as we speak, and will go live with the passes probably in the next week. I do know the first deadline is X. So I would just keep looking, looking, looking, until you see they’re available.
SAM: So do you have an idea of what the products are going to be?
Staff: No. Well, typically it goes (lists off some pass product options). All the way up to the most expensive, which is called Super Awesome Pass. It will get you access to here and other mountains, plus free days at a bunch of others in North America.
SAM: Oh, wow.
Staff: All over the world, too. But again, it’s not available yet. So keep checking back to our website.|
SAM: Alright, thanks for the information.
Staff: Sure. Thanks for the call.

Score: 3
Comment: Points for being pleasant, but the products WERE available when I called. Ouch.


Mountain 6, NY

Answering phone: Automated machine. Chose season passes.
First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Correct. It’s a M.A.X. Pass. (silence…)
SAM: OK. Sooo, which one should I get?
Staff: You have to buy a season pass through us to get the M.A.X. Pass. Right now it’s $X for an adult to purchase it. And you can ski at the other places five times each.
SAM: So that is in addition to what it costs to buy a pass at your mountain?
Staff: Yeah.
SAM: OK. How much is that?
Staff: For an adult right now it’s $X (silence…)
SAM: Alright. What’s the benefit of doing either one?
(silence…for 8 seconds)
SAM: Hello?
Staff: There is not an either one. You can’t just buy a M.A.X. Pass. Well, you can, but you have to go through their website.
SAM: Gotcha.
Staff: You would have to go on their website to get the details on it.
SAM: Alright.
Staff: I mean, it’s a good deal to be able to ski at other mountains. If you’re able to ski the other mountains, it could be worth it. It depends on how much you ski and where you ski.
SAM: So it’s the … (interrupted).
Staff: You’re welcome. (seriously?)
SAM: Um. OK. Have a good one.
Staff: Buh-bye.

Score: 0.4 (Thumbs down)
Comment: Geez. I know it’s the end of the season, but being miserable ain’t gonna ring the register.


Mountain 7, AB

Answering phone: Automated machine. Chose season passes.
First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: I can give you information about the season passes, and give you a rough idea of what they might cost, but they haven’t come out for next year yet.
SAM: Oh, alright. Shoot.
Staff: I couldn’t tell you exactly how much they’re going to be, but first thing is, I do recommend you hop on our website and sign up to receive emails. They’ll notify you when passes go on sale, and the best time to buy them is right when they go on sale in the spring. For example, an adult pass for Mount Coolness last spring was $199, but if you waited to buy it in the winter, like after the season began, it was $869.
SAM: Oh my goodness. Yeah, seems smart to buy it early.|
Staff: It’s definitely worth getting it when it goes on sale, which is usually in May. You can buy them on our website, as well. But to give you an example of the passes that we usually have: Coolness is part of the Snow Hounds. So there’s (lists the other mountains) out west, and there are some in the east as well. You can buy a Coolness season pass, or you can buy a Snow Hounds season pass. If you buy the Snow Hounds pass, you get access to all X resorts. If you get a Coolness-only pass, you still get discounts on lift tickets to the other Snow Hounds resorts. Or, you can buy the Righteous Pass, which gives you access to all X resorts, plus another.
SAM: Very cool.
Staff: That is very cool. It is a bit more expensive than just a Coolness pass, but I don’t know how much right now. You can also get a family pass, adult pass, youth pass, children pass.
SAM: Wow. Lots of options.
Staff: Yeah, information overload! Do you have any questions?
SAM: Friends told me about another pass that has access to some resorts in the States?
Staff: Ohhh. Yes! That’s called the Treat Pass. It’s actually a really cool product. Um, you have to do it all online. It’s not a product we do directly through here, but if you just go online you’ll be able to learn all about it. I think it was around $600-something U.S. But that gets you, oh, so many hills. Forty, maybe? So many. You get five days at each resort.
SAM: If only I didn’t have a job.
Staff: (laughs) I would Google that, and go on Snow Hound’s website to get more info.
SAM: Cool. Thank you for the info.
Staff: You’re welcome. I know that was a lot! But if you have any other questions please call back.
SAM: Thanks again.
Staff: You’re welcome. Have a good afternoon!

Score: 9.5 (Thumbs up)
Comment: Excellent job describing the pass options from memory, advising to sign up for the email, and giving a good reason to buy a pass early. Half-point off for not remembering the Treat (aka, M.A.X. Pass) affiliation to start, but she pulled through after a little reminder.
Identity revealed: Nakiska, AB


Mountain 8, CA

Answering phone: Automated machine. Chose season passes.
First contact: Female.
SAM: Stated question.
Staff: Yes. Our Good Pass gives you the chance to be part of the Awesomeness. That’s our Good Pass.
SAM: OK. What’s the Awesomeness?
Staff: That’s just the list of resorts that you can go to. (silence…) So it would be (lists several resorts, in an impatient tone). Now, those get you deals on tickets. Our pass gets you deals on tickets. You don’t get to go for free every time.
SAM: OK. So I get full access to your mountain and then deals to those others?
Staff: Um, yeah, you actually get, with our pass, you get full access to (lists other mountains).
SAM: Alright, cool. Is there an extra cost for the Awesomeness?
Staff: You would get the Good Pass. Or there are other passes.
SAM: Right. So do I pay extra for the Awesomeness, or just the Good Pass comes with it?
Staff: It comes with it.
SAM: And the others don’t?
Staff: Mmm Mm. (i.e., No)
SAM: OK. Can I buy into it with the other passes?
Staff: No, you cannot. I can’t guarantee the managers would allow that. A lot of people did that and they worked the system, so, I don’t feel like they’re going to allow that to happen anymore because we had sooo many people doing it.
SAM: Gotcha. So that was something that wasn’t supposed to happen, but it happened?
Staff: Exactly, yeah.
SAM: Alrighty. Well, I’ll think about it.
Staff: OK. You have a wonderful rest of your day.
SAM: You too.

Score: 3
Comment: TMI at the end, there. Seemed like every time I asked a question something shiny appeared in front of her. Should’ve been a much shorter conversation.

Read 3003 times Last modified on Tuesday, 25 April 2017 00:23

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