Featured Image: Courtesy of Mt. Bachelor
When it comes to skiing, accessibility is a big point of contention. It’s an expensive sport to participate in, requiring a substantial amount of gear and a pricey pass to access the slopes. For many, skiing is considered a luxury because of the price tag that goes along with it and POWDR’s new pass upgrade program, dubbed Fast Tracks, could risk widening the gap between the wealthy and the rest of us.
Last week, resort conglomerate POWDR Corp. announced its new Fast Tracks program, which allows skiers and riders to upgrade their lift ticket or season pass to gain quick access to the front of the lift line. The $49 upgrade gives snow sliders the ability to skip the regular—and often crowded—lift lines for more streamlined access to the mountain. The Fast Tracks program will be available starting November 1st at four of POWDR Corp.’s resorts: Copper Mountain in Colorado, Killington in Vermont, Snowbird in Utah as well as Mt. Bachelor in Oregon.
While POWDR looks at the program as an opportunity for guests to maximize their time on the mountain, the public has received the idea differently. Most notably, Oregon’s Senator Ron Wyden sent a letter to POWDR’s founder, John Cumming. In the letter, Senator Wyden cites concerns regarding equitable access.
“My concerns with this policy, shared by many long-time Mt. Bachelor guests, are rooted in the understanding that a two-tiered system of access to public lands based on financial ability is antithetical to equity in the outdoors, leaving those who cannot afford to pay for the pass being literally sent to the back of the line,” writes Wyden.
The letter continues with requests from the Democratic senator that POWDR “abandon its plans, or at the very least, delay implementation until [POWDR] adequately explains to the public how the Fast Tracks policy will not exacerbate equity issues that already exist in outdoor recreation.”
Despite the predominantly negative responses from the public, POWDR has decided to move forward with the upgrade program, defending their decision with a letter to the community.
The letter opens with, “We understand how passionate you are about the mountains. Doing the things you love with the people you love is definitely a shared mission,” but quickly moves on to defend the Fast Tracks program and the company’s decision to move forward with implementation. “The Fast Tracks concept has been in operation at our Copper Mountain, Colorado, resort for almost 20 years,” the letter states. “What we have learned through our recent experience with the product at Copper Mountain is that it is utilized by less than 2% of total daily skiers due in large part to our careful calibration and limiting access to ensure a quality experience for all guests… Fast Tracks access is no different than the access offered through ski school, private lessons and guided mountain tours in that they all provide a finite number of fast lane experiences. These experiences are made available to every member of the public, at the same price, with the same benefits.”
Locals, particularly at Mt. Bachelor, have not been shy about voicing their anger and concerns. Posts on the Mt. Bachelor Conditions Facebook page, which is not run by the ski area, have led to a petition for Mt. Bachelor and POWDR to abandon the Fast Tracks program altogether and the petition has received over 1,100 signatures at the time this story was published. While POWDR and Mt. Bachelor intend to honor the new program, Mt. Bachelor is now offering full refunds to disgruntled season pass holders and continues their commitment to providing an exceptional mountain experience for all guests.
The Fast Tracks program begins on November 1st and Mt. Bachelor hopes to open on Black Friday.