Powder Mountain dropped the cap on its season passes. People aren’t happy.

Eden-area ski and snowboard resort raised all pass prices — some up to 860% — and will tinker with paid parking, dynamic pricing.

Last May, Powder Mountain announced it would let Ogden Valley residents jump ahead in its season-pass waitlist, which measured at least twice as long as the 3,000 passes it allotted to sell. Locals, who felt barred from the ski and snowboard area right in their backyard, met the news with elation.

This week, the Eden-area resort went even further. It announced it is ditching its season-pass caps altogether.

“Powder Mountain has for a long time had a waitlist of people that want to come up and get a pass, and that meant a lot of disappointed people who couldn’t get one,” general manager Kevin Mitchell told The Tribune. “So we want to make the resort available to them.”

That news, however, has largely been met with animosity.

Powder Mountain, and particularly Mitchell and new majority owner Reed Hastings, have gotten an earful since Wednesday’s announcement. In online forums, people have bemoaned a move they see as the antithesis of the resort’s motto: “Uncrowded by design.” In addition, they’ve lambasted Powder’s management for making a series of subsequent changes. Among them are increased pass prices, paid parking in some areas and greatly diminished benefits for military members, firefighters, teachers and students.

This season, a PowMow adult season pass cost $1,259. Next season, it will start at $1,499 (minus a $100 discount for current passholders). The price of all passes will continue to rise as more passes are sold, Mitchell said.

For those who enjoyed deeply discounted passes previously, however, the price change will be considerably more painful.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Sundown Ski Lift at Powder Mountain Ski Resort, on Friday, December 8, 2023.

Seniors 75 and older used to ski for free. Their pass will now cost $1,049. Children ages 7-17 enrolled in the Weber or Cache County school system had been able to ski the entire season for $109. Those passes will now cost $199 for kids ages 7-12 when paired with an adult pass and $699 without an adult. Meanwhile, a pass for teens 13-17 will be $1,049 — an increase of 862%.

Brandon Hegoas, 47, of Syracuse, said the price of his midweek military pass will double. Though he said he has the income to weather the change, Hegoas, who served 21 years in the Air Force, said he won’t.

“Unfortunately,” he said, “they’re going to lose me as a customer.”

Hegoas said he’s standing on principle for younger military members who may not be able to afford the higher prices. Another factor in his defection is the resort’s move to uncap its season passes. He doesn’t see how it can do that and still remain uncrowded. He also bristled at the way the resort responded to concerns posted by some passholders on Instagram.

In one such post, a person asked why they could fly to Europe and ski for 10 days for the price of 10 tickets to the mountain in their backyard. The official Powder Mountain account responded with two emojis: one of a plane and one of a waving hand. The reaction was later removed but lived on in screenshots posted on the platform.

“It’s not like I’m super upset at them increasing their prices for military,” he said. “It’s just seeing how they’re treating their customers that have been loyal customers for decades. They clearly don’t care about how the community feels about it. And that’s fine.

“I think a lot of us, at least in my peer circle, we’re glad that it’s out and that the news is out and they don’t have to pretend like they’re not doing what they’re doing,” he said. “And for the people that can afford to go there and don’t mind the big-resort feel, they’ll continue to get business from them. I just won’t go right there anymore.”

Concern about overcrowding rivals outrage over price hikes online.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Powder Mountain General Manager Kevin Mitchell, shows the spot for the new chairlift at Powder Mountain Ski resort, on Monday, Aug. 28, 2023.

When Hastings bought partial ownership in the resort last spring, and later took over the majority shares, he made it clear his goal was to keep Powder from being overrun. The fear at that time was that he would privatize the ski area, a la Wasatch Peaks Ranch. Instead, last December he unveiled a novel public-private hybrid plan.

Starting in 2024-25, two lifts previously accessible to all ticket holders, Village and Mary’s, will be off-limits to anyone but Powder Mountain property owners and their guests. As a type of exchange, a new public lift will be built on Lightning Ridge. The resort also plans to upgrade its Paradise and Timberline lifts over the summer.

A fourth, private, lift that leads to Cobabe Canyon — what the resort is calling “Raintree” — is expected to be rolling by next winter as well.

Powder Mountain is the largest ski area by acreage in the United States. If it feels overcrowded, Mitchell said, they’ll expand terrain and upgrade lifts, just as they’re doing this year.

“Powder Mountain is very large and with investment in lift infrastructure, we’re going to have more capacity,” he said. “And so we felt like now’s the time to allow more people to be able to get passes.”

Passes may actually become the more economical option, even with the price increase, since Mitchell said Powder plans to employ dynamic pricing in coming seasons. Dynamic pricing, in which prices soar or drop depending on demand, pushed tickets to more than $300 with taxes at both Deer Valley and Park City this season.

Powder Mountain plans to dip its toes into paid parking as well. Mitchell said the resort is still tinkering with its plan, but it will include aspects of free parking, paid reservations and carpool incentives.

Mitchell said he doesn’t believe the potshots levied at Powder Mountain on social media reflect how most people feel about the changes. And even if they are, he said they are necessary to keep the resort in the black.

“Historically at Powder Mountain there’s been a lot of various discounts out there, and we’re, we’re tightening that up and trying to make sure that we can make this resort financially feasible,” he said. “That’s important to business and that hasn’t been how the resort has been operated.”

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