Stevens Pass, WA, Skier Starts Petition Against Vail Resorts for ‘Disgusting Mismanagement of the Ski Area’

SnowBrains | | Industry NewsIndustry News
vail resorts, Stevens Pass, washington,
Lift lines at Stevens Pass, WA. Credit: change.org

A Stevens Pass, WA, skier has started a petition against Vail Resorts for what he calls ‘mismanagement of the ski area’. The petition has so far garnered 28,000 signatures.

Jeremy Rubingh specifically cites lift lines, parking, the treatment of employees, and lack of investment as disgusting.

Lift lines are out of control to the point where the majority of a day of “skiing” is spent standing in line at one of the few lifts open.

The full complaint below:

As Stevens Pass skiers, snowboarders and customers who purchased Vail Resorts “Epic Pass,” we are disgusted with the mismanagement of the ski area, the failure to treat employees well, or pay them a livable wage, and the failure to deliver the  product we all paid for and bought with hard-earned money during a pandemic. Lift lines are out of control to the point where the majority of a day of “skiing” is spent standing in line at one of the few lifts open. This is, of course, if you are even able to park and not told you cannot access the ski area due to limited parking. In addition, the failure to open ample lifts or even half of the available terrain is due solely to mismanaging an understaffed ski area. The Stevens Pass website now states they will likely only run three base area lifts and open only 40% of the terrain, though there is plenty of snow to open more. Parking has been abysmal at Stevens Pass due to a lack of staffing, investment in infrastructure, and plowing. Customers are often told they cannot use their “Epic Pass” or the products they have paid for at Vail Resorts and must turn around, simply because there is nowhere to park. 

Avalanche mitigation cannot be used as an excuse for a lack of terrain opening as other ski areas nearby with more challenging terrain issues and similar avalanche conditions, have been successful in opening up most of their terrain. This is simply a matter of not hiring the appropriate staff to run a ski area, or pay a wage commensurate with experience and the job description. Mt. Baker, Snoqualimie, Alpental, Crystal, White Pass and Mission Ridge do not appear to have this problem whatsoever. There is a clear pattern of overselling passes and failing to provide the most rudimentary services to uphold Vail Resort’s end of the deal with consumers. Unfortunately, this is a problem that extends beyond Washington. With above average snowfall and other resorts in the area proving they are able to run lifts and open terrain, it is painfully clear that Vail Resorts are not operating in good faith towards their customers or their employees. Furthermore, it appears they have no respect for skiing, ski culture, or the public’s experience of snow sports in the areas they operate. 

Pass sales for 2021-22 are up 76% compared to the 2019-2020 season across “Epic Pass” resorts. Yet, there are hundreds upon hundreds of unfilled jobs that are necessary to operate ski areas. The wages being offered for key personnel, like ski patrollers, are sub-standard. To offer a patroller, who needs avalanche and medical training, a mere $14 an hour is offensive. To offer anyone this amount as a “living wage” at this point, especially in rural areas where a commute is necessary, is abhorrent, especially as c-suite executives and shareholders profit in the millions.  

The product marketed and sold by Vail Resorts included reasonable access to the terrain and lifts that are prevalent in their marketing materials and on their maps. We were not sold passes with the understanding that Vail Resorts intended to keep 60% of the terrain and the majority of lifts closed for the season. We would not have bought passes if we knew this. It is illegal for a business to accept payments for products or services they do not intend to supply. Vail Resorts needs to commit to returning 60% of the cost of a season’s pass to all pass holders unless this problem is addressed immediately (by January 15th). There is ample evidence that Vail Resorts was aware of their staffing issues as early as the 2019/2020 winter. To sell this many “Epic Passes” in Washington State while being fully aware of staffing issues and knowing that they could not meet their obligations to all of their consumers, it is clear that Vail Resorts deceived a substantial portion of the public and committed this deception in the conduct of commerce. We believe that Vail Resorts’ failure to comply with our request is a violation of the Washington Consumer Protection Act. Without action from Vail Resorts, the undersigned will bring a claim of violation to the Consumer Protection Division and the Attorney General of Washington State.

The undersigned also suggest a review of the operator’s agreement pursuant to the special permit issued by the United States Forest Service (USFS) for operating on the two parcels on USFS property. We feel there could be a better operator serving the interests of public recreation on our public lands, especially if Vail Resorts is found to be in violation of the Consumer Protection Act and is failing to provide the services on public lands they have agreed to. The current operator is acting in bad faith and seems solely focused on profit for a large corporation whose corporate headquarters and shareholder majority do not reside within this state. As the U.S. Department of Agriculture Ski Area Special Permit document states, the Forest Service may revoke or suspend this permit for noncompliance with Federal, State, or local laws and regulations. In addition, the special permit states, “The holder, in advertisements, signs, circulars, brochures, letterheads, and like materials, as well as orally, shall not misrepresent in any way either the accommodations provided…” We, the undersigned, note that Vail Resorts has greatly misrepresented accommodations provided.

We sign this petition with a heavy heart as we would much rather be enjoying the snow the only way we know how as dedicated skiers and snowboarders. We would also prefer to spend our free time celebrating our sport and creating more equitable access rather than fighting with large corporations. But the time has come for us to take a stand if we are to have high quality outdoor winter recreation for future generations. Unfortunately, Vail Resorts has contributed more to the destruction of our ski communities and our sport than they have created value. We look forward to speedy resolution of these issues.

Sincerely,





Related Articles

28 thoughts on “Stevens Pass, WA, Skier Starts Petition Against Vail Resorts for ‘Disgusting Mismanagement of the Ski Area’

  1. Vaccine mandates = supply line sabotage. Does Vail Associates have over 100 employees? Let’s go skiing Brandon! Soon it won’t be just powder skiing you won’t have access too. ( think hamburger and fries) your food supply!

  2. Yes they do, I quit there two years ago. I was there 11 years and it just got worse and worse so i had to leave. Katz blew the place up!

  3. You should maybe begin to attempt to know what you’re talking about. The biggest issue at Stevens, even short staffed, with the lay out of the chairs they could still have all terrain open. But because the older chairs cost more to maintain they have chosen to only open a portion of the Mountain. There may be a staffing issue (mainly caused by treatment of employees) but Vail could still be providing what we all paid for if they weren’t more worried about their profit margin and intentionally mismanaging the resort

  4. Mid Winter. Huge snowpack and still only partially opened. Vail Resorts needs to be investigated by State Attorney Generals or the Justice Department.

  5. Do you work for Vail Dave? Zero applications.
    You sound ignorant on the issue.
    Lets say you hired me to remodel your home and I dont complete it. Do I just say STFU Dave. Or maybe tell you to grab a hammer.

  6. I hope all Vail Resorts come under this petition. I’ve worked for two of their resorts. They are the greediest corporation in the hospitality industry. Kirkwood is going through the same thing.

  7. Vail doesn’t care about anything but money. Until the people stop visiting their overpriced resorts they won’t change anything. They are as corporate as corporate gets. Managers sitting I. Offices in Broomfield are making base operations decisions with no clue or care for how they effect front line workers. If someone had an idea to improve things. It has to go three to four managers up for an official decision and is usually denied. Botto. Line is that Vail Resorts is a Joke. And they don’t care!

  8. Lack of employees due to lack of employee housing and affordable rentals in some of these bougy mountain towns is also a reason for lack of full mountain operations of these over crowded ski areas. And yet sites like this one also promote vrbo n such vacation rentals as affiliate marketing revenues for lame income stream which has heavily caused the rental housing shortage in mountain towns. Its All about money remember. Go figure.

  9. With a world wide pandemic affecting businesses, millions hesitant of working conditions, employers tangled with covid-19 related health safety, many fearing covid-19 and new strains even with vaccinations to mitigate viruses, staffing shortages may be directly affecting ski areas retaining essential seasonal workers.

  10. We also had no natural snowfall in December Lisa. Fortunately with the cold this week, more terrain will be opening up as the snow guns are running around the clock. Stevens pass has very different issues than Wilmot.

  11. All the people complaining need to stfu. 28,000 signatures yet zero new applications; I don’t see the guy who started the petition doing liftee training

  12. Maybe people should stop moving to these mountain towns and paying the crazy prices for houses and pushing the people that work these resorts out! Maybe then more chairs could open and alleviate the strain of only having a couple lifts open due to not having enough staff to run chairs or even just enough staff to keep a mountains open!

  13. Wilmot Mountain also operated by Vail Resorts (Epic pass) in WI was also only half open with suboptimal terrain this past weekend. Very disappointing.

  14. Same at crested butte, lots of terrain not open for the holidays, front side groomers still not open, tbars to extreme terrain still not running even though they got 106” last week! The huge ski valet tent collapsed because they didn’t have anyone to remove the snow after that huge storm cycle, luckily only two employees were trapped, it used to be a public skating rink! Don’t see them advertising open jobs anywhere, but then who would work for them?

  15. Lol, Vail resorts has been the Evil Empire for years now. Before you buy your season pass better read the fine print! There’s more to skiing than the price of your ticket but if you want to ski Vail, Breck, Park City and Stevens Pass then you have to pay the price they place on the pass and or ticket! 😉

  16. Oversold and Underdelievered is not a good product in ANY business. But hey corporate dweebs are completely clueless to such as they have been trained as they received their MBA master bullsh#t artist degree that its all about ‘metrics’ even though this country is still on the imperial measurement system. Epic or Ikon it don’t matter corporate skiing always has and still s#cks. But hey they can barely even ski most em so what do they care its all about revenue streams and profit so say the corporate beany counters too.
    Sheesh

  17. More challenging terrain usually means that terrain doesn’t have avalanche risk because it’s too steep. People don’t understand avalanche is a goldilocks zone, it’s not just the steeper it is the more risk to avalanche. Stevens pass is the location of the deadliest avalanche, 96 people.

  18. The Vail Ski Resort Area has over 120% snow pack for this time of year, yet they only just now opened up to 69% terrain. Breckenridge is only just now up to 60%. It seems very likely that they are using Covid as an excuse to limit staffing and saving on expenses.

  19. One person observed that if Stevens Pass was truly interested in hiring more people, they’d be leveraging all of their social media platforms – website, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. But there is nothing advertising jobs on any of their sites. It would be reassuring if Stevens would publish what they are doing to fix the problem because “working hard” doesn’t mean anything. This is my home hill and am very disappointed/frustrated. They have a 70″ base but can’t open their backside or all the lifts on the front side.

Got an opinion? Let us know...