The run on coveted weekend and holiday access to the peaks around Park City begins Friday.
Starting at 8 a.m., Park City Mountain Resort will allow season-pass holders to begin stock piling the seven days this season they most want to visit the ski area — or any other Vail Resort-owned property. That includes the resort’s Nov. 20 pass-holder-only opening day as well as weekends and holidays, like New Year’s Day and spring break.
Reservations are required every day this winter at ski areas owned by Vail, as PCMR is, as part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. That applies to both skiers and riders buying a single-day ticket and those who purchased the resort’s Epic Pass and Epic Day Pass.
Most of those reservations can only be made up to a week in advance starting Nov. 18. Pass holders do, however, get the perk of being able to squirrel away any seven days throughout the season as long as they make those reservations on epicpass.com before daily ticket sales begin Dec. 8.
Even though that gives pass holders more than a month to stake their claim to a date, PCMR spokesperson Jessica Miller said the resort is bracing a high volume of calls this weekend.
“We’re trying to do everything we can to not crash the system,” she said. “If you get put in a waiting room, it is totally OK.”
The waiting room will open at 7 a.m. Friday and reservations begin at 8 a.m. Miller said the process will be similar to that of buying concert tickets in that after customers log in, they will be alerted via text or email when it is their time to make their reservations.
Miller added that this year the Epic Coverage pass insurance policy, included in the price of purchase, allows for some refunds if skiers or snowboarders can’t get the exact dates they want.
Weekend and holiday skiing days, which have always been in high demand, are at a premium this season. Many resorts around the country are imposing caps on the number of customers they will allow on their slopes as they try to maintain social distancing and comply with state and local coronavirus regulations. In addition, many resorts are heavily prioritizing pass holders this season.
That’s the case at PCMR as well as at Solitude and Deer Valley, both of which are owned by the Alterra Mountain Company and are on the Ikon Pass. While those resorts are not requiring reservations, they plan to control capacity by limiting single-day ticket sales.
“It worked out for us that was the most effective way for us to regulate visitation,” Alterra Mountain Company CEO Rusty Gregory told The Salt Lake Tribune. “And we went through all sorts of discussions — reservations, parking restrictions, other ways to reduce capacity effectively — and felt that this was the one that made the most sense and that was the most executable.”
The ramifications of those decisions are already playing out in some of Alterra’s other resorts, however. A look at daily ticket availability at Winter Park Resort, not far off Colorado’s I-70 corridor, revealed sparse offerings for the weekends. Anyone looking to ski on a Saturday would have to wait until February, where one day was available. Only one Sunday was available in December and January and two could be found in February.
As of Thursday at Deer Valley and Solitude, meanwhile, single-day tickets could be purchased any day throughout the season, including during Christmas break.