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Whistler-Blackcomb Holdings will be purchased by Colorado-based Vail Resorts Inc. under a friendly deal announced this morning by the companies. Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler Mountain at Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort is shown in this file photo.
Whistler-Blackcomb Holdings will be purchased by Colorado-based Vail Resorts Inc. under a friendly deal announced this morning by the companies. Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler Mountain at Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort is shown in this file photo. TOSHI KAWANO /TOURISM BC

Season ski pass holders at Whistler Blackcomb can expect to see a dramatic cut in costs after Vail Resorts’ $1.4-billion purchase of the B.C. resort on Monday.

Vail Resorts says it will slash the price of a Whistler season pass starting in 2017 — normally around $2,000 Cdn — to roughly half that, and fold it into Vail’s popular 13-resort Epic Pass, which currently sells for US$809.

The rewriting of season pass holder fees is one of the more immediate consumer benefits of a friendly cash-and-stock takeover of Whistler Blackcomb, the crown jewel of North America’s ski resorts, by Colorado-based resort giant Vail Resorts. It is the first foray into Canada by Vail, which in recent years has been on a buying spree and now owns nine other mountain resorts and two ski areas in the U.S. and Australia.

In a path away from that taken by other periodic U.S.-based owners of Whistler Blackcomb, Vail said it will significantly invest in the property, expanding its attraction to the Asia-Pacific market ahead of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, as well as attract new visitors from Latin America.

It comes only months after the provincial government approved of Aquilini Investment Group’s plan to build a $3.5 billion ski resort at Garibaldi, a proposal opposed by Whistler Resort Municipality and Whistler Blackcomb.

In purchasing Whistler Blackcomb, Vail Resorts said it plans to carry on the company’s recently-announced $345 million Renaissance plan to expand the resort’s four-season market. It did not say how much it will invest in Whistler beyond the multi-year Renaissance plan, which includes a covered water park.

The change in season pass prices, which will not come into effect this year, is part of Vail’s North American effort to make skiing more affordable and attractive. The company has also had lots of evidence to show a lower overall pass, coupled with access to multiple resorts, is good for the company’s bottom line.

“We believe with the price being lower and all the benefits added, we can really expand our base,” Rob Katz, Vail’s CEO said Monday. “It is true that for a handful of people they are going to get a great discount but for so many other people they are going to buy a season pass when they ordinarily wouldn’t. We’ve seen this broaden and make much more accessible the opportunity to ski at the best value possible.”

When Vail first opened its Epic Pass program in 2008, a season pass at Vail Mountain sold for US$1,500. The company lowered it to $600, and watched as the number of season pass holders went from 40,000 to more than 550,000 today.

The purchase of Whistler Blackcomb, one of North America’s premier ski resorts, came after a concerted courtship by Vail in recent months, while the company was working on the Renaissance project and trying to also write a new master development plan with the province and Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations.

“We were focused on our business and working with the province and First Nations communities on our master development agreements and we really weren’t interested at the end of the day in terms of accommodation with Vail,” said Dave Brownlie, Whistler Blackcomb’s CEO. “But they were persistent and they kept calling and at the end of the day they put a very attractive offer on the table.

Both Vail and Whistler Blackcomb are publicly-traded companies. Under the scheme Whistler Blackcomb shareholders are being offered $17.50 per share in cash and 0.0975 shares of Vail Resorts common stock for each of their shares, for a total of $676 million in cash and Vail stock worth about $715 million. When the deal closes this fall, Whistler Blackcomb shareholders will own approximately 10 per cent of Vail’s shares.

Whistler Blackcomb shares closed in Toronto on Friday at C$25.14 — giving it a market value of about $960 million before Monday’s announcement. Shares of Whistler Blackcomb jumped to an all-time high when markets opened Monday and closed at a record $36.63. In New York, Vail Resorts stock also hit an all-time high, closing at US$155.46.

Under the deal Brownlie will remain as the chief operating officer for Whistler Blackcomb, which will keep its local name.

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Powder Mountain, UT
Powder Mountain, UT

Powder Mountain ski resort in Ogden, UT will soon be the largest ski resort in the USA at 7,957-skiable acres (8,464 acres if you include their cat skiing terrain).  The only ski resort with more lift served terrain in North America is Whistler Blackcomb, B.C. at 8,171 acres.

Powder Mountain is currently going through the largest lift-served ski terrain expansion in North American history by adding 2 chairlifts (Mary’s Bowl & Village) that are increasing their terrain by 1,060 acres.

This expansion is slated to be completed this winter.

2 lifts being built that will expand Pow Mow's terrain by 1,060 acres.  image:  powder mountain
2 lifts being built that will expand Pow Mow’s terrain by 1,060 acres. image: powder mountain


  • 500″ of annual snowfall
  • 2,205′ vertical feet
  • Opening date:  “as soon as mother nature lets us”
  • Closing date:  April 9th
A helicopter installing lift towers for one of the two new lifts being installed at Powder Mountain.  photo:  Powder Mountain
A helicopter installing lift towers for one of the two new lifts being installed at Powder Mountain. photo: Powder Mountain

Powder Mountain is also executing an unprecedented skier cap.  This mean that Powder Mountain will only sell 2,000 daily ski passes per day and only 1,000 adult season passes this year.

This skier cap will make Powder Mountain the lowest skier density of any major ski area in North America at only 14 skiers per acre and an advanced sale adult day ticket is only $79.

The two new Powder Mountain lifts:

  • Mary’s Lift at 3,880 feet long and rising 867 vertical feet
  • Village lift at 3,680 feet long and 582 vertical feet.

“We strive to maintain the uncrowded, wide open, adventurous experience Pow Mow is known for.  By adding two new lifts and over 1,000 acres of new lift accessible terrain, capping ticket sales at 2,000 per day and establishing a limit of 1,000 adult season pass holders annually, we aim to keep our skier density of 1 acre per skier. Compare that with some of the largest resorts in the region who routinely see skier densities in excess of 14 skiers per acre, it is easy to see that we are truly committed to Preserving the Pow!With an advanced full price lift ticket price of $79, we truly offer all the terrain of the largest resorts in the country at half the price and a fraction of the crowd.”” – Mark Schroetel, General Manager of Powder Mountain Resort

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 After more than a week of snow storms in the Sierra Nevada, Mammoth Mountain has more snow than another ski resort in the country.
A photo from inside McCoy Station, a mid-mountain chalet, shows conditions at Mammoth on Jan. 11, 2017. (Credit: MMSA)

A photo from inside McCoy Station, a mid-mountain chalet, shows conditions at Mammoth on Jan. 11, 2017. (Credit: MMSA)

The popular mountain about five hours north of Los Angeles announced Wednesday that it had the deepest base of snow in North America after receiving 10 to 15 feet of snow since the previous Wednesday. Another foot of snow fell by Thursday morning.

“It looks like the storm blows out on Friday and that means that Saturday could be one of the most epic bluebird ski days that we’ve experienced in Mammoth Lakes,” the town’s tourism board wrote on Facebook.

Snowpack is estimated at 261 percent of normal for a collection of measurement sites across the Owens Valley area, according to a chart the Mammoth Times newspaper published on Facebook. The estimate exceeds 1982-83, the wettest year on record in the region, according to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power chart.

Overall Sierra snowpack — an essential part of the state’s water supply — is at 161 percent of normal as of Thursday, according to the California Department of Water Resources. On Jan. 3, a day before this set of storms, that figure was at 67 percent.

The storm has dumped on Mammoth and nearby June Mountain, as well as Lake Tahoe-area resorts. Flooding has caused problems in various parts of Northern California.

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Take a bow Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe. Thus far, the Lake Tahoe area ski resort has received the most snow in North America for the 2016-17 season – a whopping 650 inches.

Thanks to a series of strong winter storms that have moved through the Lake Tahoe region one after another this season, especially the past two months, Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe announced today that it has officially extended its season and will remain open through Memorial Day, May 29.

A Mt. Rose employee shovels snow following a huge series of storms that hit the Lake Tahoe region. Mt. Rose has the most snow of any ski resort in North America – 650 inches.

According to, Mt. Rose has reported the most snow in North America to date this winter. And more snow is on the way. The National Weather Service forecast calls for another winter storm system to move through the region over the coming weekend.

“With this unbelievable season still in full swing, including topping the snow total chart in North America at 650 inches to date, Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe will continue to offer supreme skiing and snowboarding conditions through Memorial Day this season,” said Mike Pierce, director of marketing at Mt. Rose. “For the second year in a row, this marks another six-month ski season and is a testament to our tagline, ‘8,260 – Where the Snow Is.’”

Located on Mt. Rose Highway with a base that’s at 8,260 feet – the highest of all the Lake Tahoe ski resorts – Mt. Rose is situated perfectly when big storms hit the region. The resort had 359 inches of snow fall in January.

Average base depths at Mt. Rose currently total 223 inches on the mountain. All lifts and trails are open as weather and conditions permit, with skiers and riders enjoying mid-winter conditions across the entire mountain.

To go along with its much longer 2016-17 season – a typical season ends sometime in April – Mt. Rose is offering a Spring Plus Premier Pass. The pass is valid seven days a week with no blackouts this season or next. The offer is a good value for skiers and riders who want the flexibility of being able to ski any day of the season.

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