Winter is coming.
The signs are all around us — from an unexpected dump of snow two weeks ago to the momentary lull of shoulder season and the endless social media posts about how stoked everyone is for ski season.
But this year, things will be a little different with how you access Whistler Blackcomb territory. While Vail Resorts was at the helm of the mountains last year, it appears they hadn’t fully rolled out all the changes that were in store until this year.
The biggest difference: ditching the one- and three-day Edge Cards and cutting off the sale of all Edge Cards and various season passes (except for the Spirit Pass) in mid-November.
The move brings WB in line with other Vail Resorts around the globe. The company’s reasoning? Cutting off pass sales offers better value to customers who are loyal and on time. Vail officials argue it’s all about getting used to change — we’ll adjust.
They’re probably right. Five years from now we’ll all be used to shelling out cash for access to the mountain well before opening day. But for now, it just feels like something else is being taken away.
Realistically, many locals take advantage of earlybird pricing and have secured their passes well ahead of the deadline. But there are a handful of groups poised to lose out by this move — which will essentially mean the only option they have to get on the mountain is day passes.
There are the seasonal workers who have yet to arrive — whose value to this community continues to increase as we grapple with the ongoing labour shortage. Some might be eligible for a Spirit Pass, but not all will be.
Then there’s an overlooked demographic: friends and family who come to visit locals. Sure, some organized folks plan their winter vacation months in advance, but many don’t. And many relied on Edge Cards to make their expensive trip a little more affordable.
In the end, there’s not much anyone can do but adjust. Even the Parent Pass — which was slated to be cut this year, but was reinstated for one more season after an uproar from locals — will likely also disappear next year. (Though, to be clear, this hasn’t been confirmed.)
Change is an inevitable part of life and sometimes it’s hard. But hopefully Vail officials are right and a large enough number of people — those loyal, organized folks — will benefit from them.