Arapahoe Basin Ski Area reports skier visits are down 35% after ditching Epic Pass
ARAPAHOE BASIN SKI AREA — In an unusually transparent move for the ski industry, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area has released data on skier numbers that Chief Operating Officer Alan Henceroth promised to provide following a particularly busy Saturday in February.
On Tuesday, Henceroth delivered. In a blog post, he highlighted the decline in skiers and subsequent crowds at A-Basin compared with last season, which the ski area stated as a goal after leaving its partnership with Epic Pass at the end of the 2018-19 season.
“A year ago, we started on a journey to change things up at Arapahoe Basin,” Henceroth wrote in his blog. “While our actions had many objectives, two of those objectives really stand out. First, we wanted to reduce crowding, hosting 20% fewer skiers in 2019-20 than we did in 2018-19. Second, by reducing the crowding, we wanted to offer a much higher quality guest experience.”
Henceroth explained that there have been significantly more skiers and snowboarders at A-Basin since Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Until then, skier numbers were low as evidenced by the percentages Henceroth provided:
- 39% fewer skiers through January compared with last season
- 35% fewer skiers through February compared with last season
- 69% fewer Ikon and Mountain Collective passholders through February compared with Epic passholders last season
- 20% fewer skiers in February compared with February 2019
- 51% fewer Ikon and Mountain Collective passholders in February compared with Epic passholders in February 2019
While Epic passholders received unlimited access to A-Basin during the ski area’s partnership with Vail Resorts, Ikon passholders can ski or snowboard only seven or fewer days at A-Basin, depending on which pass they purchased. Mountain Collective passholders get two days at A-Basin.
Several community members responded to a Facebook post asking about their experiences at A-Basin this season.
“As a parent of kids who train at A-Basin every weekend, it has been amazing,” Cindy Crass Dean wrote in a Facebook message. “You don’t have to be there by 7:30 to get in lower lot, lift lines are shorter, you can find a seat at 6th Alley. All around so much better!”
Crass Dean added that she thinks the restricted Ikon Base pass access was a great idea and allows A-Basin passholders to have the mountain to themselves on blackout dates.
Nathan Saucy, a second-year employee at A-Basin, echoed Crass Dean’s positive sentiment surrounding the decline in skier numbers.
“This is my second season working here and skiing pretty much every day, and the weekdays have less than half as many people as last season,” Saucy wrote in a Facebook message. “Weekends are busy but still much better than last year. Fresh powder lasts until 10 or 11 a.m. on weekdays, it’s incredible.”
While A-Basin skiers and snowboarders are happy to see smaller crowds, the ski area needs revenue to keep the lifts turning and the restaurants serving, which some people expressed concern about in their Facebook responses.
However, Henceroth wrote in his blog that February’s 20% decline was “almost exactly” what was planned and budgeted for the month.
Henceroth also addressed the day that had some guests complaining about crowds. He wrote that while Feb. 22 was the busiest day of the season so far, there were six days that were busier last season. Henceroth also acknowledged that weekends have been busier since Martin Luther King Jr. Day and that recent Saturdays have required overflow parking. He advised people to arrive early or late, carpool or ride the Summit Stage.
“We aren’t quite where we want to be yet, but we are heading in the right direction,” Henceroth wrote.