Contrary to popular belief, skiing actually used to be somewhat affordable for middle-America back in the day. Now I’m not saying that means every single American could afford a day out on the slopes, but local hills near large cities offered cheap options for those that couldn’t travel to the big luxury resorts featured on SKI and Powder Magazines.
A recent image surfaced on Twitter from Wasatch Weather Weenies‘ creator Jim Steenburg (@professorpowder) that really grabbed my attention. The photo, embedded below, shows just how cheap it was to ski at Solitude Mountain Resort, UT back in 1986.
— Jim Steenburgh (@ProfessorPowder) November 14, 2021
For context, $5 in 1986 is equivalent to about $13.50 today, and $10 in 1986 is roughly $26 today according to US Inflation Calculator. A walk-up single day lift ticket at Solitude costs $139 today. Just to really make your head explode, $139 back in 1986 is equivalent to $350 today. Insane.
Steenburgh was replying to a series of Tweets from ski blogger and podcaster @stormskijournal. He does a great job of documenting the ski resort industry and regularly interviews key players at resorts across the country.
I’ve embedded some of Tweets below to show how high some walk-up lift tickets are running this season.
*EDITOR’S NOTE: ALL STATS/FIGURES WERE FROM LAST SEASON, 21-22*
I know that most people purchase lift tickets ahead of time, and therefore save money, but just the fact that a place like Steamboat could charge somebody nearly $300 who strolls up to the ticket window is absolutely bonkers.
The next 10:
Copper: $208 (+ $79 Fast Tracks = $287)
Jackson Hole: $197
— The Storm Skiing Journal & Podcast (@StormSkiJournal) November 14, 2021
I should probably do some research, but I just want to know what in the actual hell happened? Are lift ticket prices shooting through the roof in order for ski resorts to cover their lavish lodging upgrades that have taken place over the last few decades? Or are some of these ski resorts just trying to maximize profits and in-turn establish their target demographic as the rich and wealthy skiers across America?
I really don’t know the answer, but my brain hurts thinking of a middle-class family trying to afford a vacation at some of these places.
There are plenty of awesome ski areas and resorts across the country that are significantly cheaper than these options, but I just think it’s my duty as a “super-important” (I hope you sense my sarcasm) ski blogger to call out this bullshit when I see it.
I know some of you will say, “But Matt, they should just buy an IKON or Epic Pass if they’re planning on going on a week long trip. That will save them so much money versus paying for single-day lift tickets”, and while you’re right, I don’t think you’re considering that many middle-class American skiers still can’t shell out nearly $1000 for a ski pass.
I just hope the industry realizes what they’re doing and slams the brakes on these ridiculous lift ticket prices. They might think that they’re maximizing profits, but I know there’s a large core of skiers and riders out there that just simply won’t go to these mega-resorts if prices keep increasing like this.
It will probably continue to push more people into the backcountry which is another issue in itself.
Anyways, I hope you can take something from my ramblings in the words above. I’m just so tired of seeing skiing getting more and more expensive.
I really want our sports to be enjoyed by the masses, and I hope we can get to that point someday.
Featured Image Credit: @professorpowder