August 14, 2013
Ski Economics and Why I Love Wolf Creek, CO
I hate being cheap. I guess it is hard to say I am cheap when I am a guy that spends double digit days skiing every year, but still, I have to keep costs under control or else it is impossible to ski as much as I would like to.
This is the Disneyland problem. If you go to Disneyland once every couple years for a couple of days, you can get the Express Passes and the kids can eat corn dogs and buy memorabilia. But imagine if you wanted to spend 20 days a year at Disneyland. I don't want to ski 5 days a year over Christmas, rent an overpriced condo, and eat at the expensive resorts. I know this is a dream vacation for the average city dweller, but I live differently. I want to spur of the moment leave to follow a huge storm coming through, stay in a cheap hotel down mountain (and occasionally sleep in my car), and spend my days skiing great snow. That is a very different idea of "skiing" from the first category.
Vail Resorts sells the first category at their half a dozen mega-resorts. And you pay for it. $120 lift tickets. $300 a night condos. $10 burgers at the mountain. Slopeside shops selling high end designer products. It is a world of Escalades and 7 Series BMWs. I drive a 5 year old Chevy.
Enter Wolf Creek. There are no condos. But snow for snow, Wolf Creek dominates all of Summit County. It is just in the middle of nowhere. You get epic skiing, no lift lines, often on weekdays no people, and an authentic skiing experience for around $50 for a lift ticket.
I invite anyone that reads this to think about what you really want. You can spend a week at Wolf Creek and lose out on the nightlife, the glitz, and the possible celebrity sighting but get incredible skiing and an authentic feel for pennies on the dollar or you can pay for something that has absolutely nothing to do with the actual sport of skiing.
In fact, the Disneyland comparison is quite accurate. Most resorts now are selling "vacations" not "skiing." They are selling you Disneyland on snow complete with the ridiculous cost of mouse ears and expensive food. I know this is what many families and many individuals want, but it is about as authentic as visiting a zoo is. You can see "wild animals" at a zoo about the same as you can get an authentic ski experience eating a $200 meal slopeside after your 2 hour private lesson and massage.
The industry has priced themselves out of catering to the average working class family. Wolf Creek hasn't. Take your sandwiches, eat in the parking lot, have a reasonably priced beer after the day of skiing, and enjoy a great mountain full of unpretentious people there to enjoy nature and great snow.
Posted by Justin at August 14, 2013 05:48 PM