I was the first person to get busted for "pass lending" for the 2012-13 season. I never intended to achieve such fame and notoriety when I arrived in Vail. I merely hoped to experience some of the best skiing-boarding in the world and to share this experience with my visiting friends.
When one of my closest friends came to visit, we had every intention of being good little snowboarders. Every morning we made our way to the pass office to buy a Buddy Pass, a discounted pass that comes as a benefit of owning a Merchant Pass. We'd been loving every minute of Vail's thick powder, and I wanted to ensure that she was enjoying the very best when I gave her my pass on the morning of Dec. 19.
It was the morning everyone was talking about. The morning when 12-plus inches of fresh powder was supposed to cover the mountain. You all remember? It was one of the first standout days of the season. I spent the night before talking up the conditions, insisting she get first chair so she could enjoy the most epic boarding experience of her lifetime.
You can imagine my horror when I slept through my alarm and had to hurry to work. With no time to buy her a Buddy Pass, I impulsively gave her my pass so she could go boarding while I worked. That was mistake No. 1.
She initially refused, but I told her I didn't want her to have to shell out extra money on a full price pass just because I had overslept. "Besides," I told her, "the scanners don't actually check the passes." Mistake No. 2.
Being new to Vail, I also foolishly assumed the punishment for such an un-heinous crime would be a warning and a slap on the wrist. Mistake No. 3 ... and I was out!
My goal was to give her the gift of one of the best experiences of her lifetime. What she got after she was flagged by a ticketer (who apparently do check the scanners) was a trip to ski jail, a visit from Vail police and a hefty fine. What I got was a year-long ban from the mountain. Now I'm facing four months in one of the best ski towns in the world with no chance of ever setting foot on the lifts.
I honestly never realized any of this would happen. I never realized my attempt at a kind gesture would become a heavy burden for both me and my friend.
I know I will receive no sympathy. I, along with all of the other "lenders," will be examples for everyone else.
My point is this, friends: Let this actually be an example for you. Learn from me. Check the fine print on the form you sign (or just heed the warnings in the slightly fatter print on this page), and realize that the consequences far outweigh the benefits. Although you might be trying to help out your friend, you might end up hurting the both of you. Play it safe. Play all season.