Every winter, in the hopes of securing fresh turns from the overnight snowfall, thousands of skiers and boarders rise to their alarms, excited to beat the traffic to their beloved mountain. To the many who call Colorado their home, the notorious I-70 Highway is their sworn enemy, and Winter Park is their resort of choice. They’ll happily make the long commute with smiles on their faces to once again ride the Super Gauge lift to the peak, and cruise left down Bluebell, racing to the Panoramic Express lift. The plan is laid out, and if executed, ensures fresh powder turns on some of the best terrain in the world.
- Related: Winter Park Resort, CO, Announces $100 Million of Upgrades for 23/24 Season and Reveals New Name for Pioneer Express Chair
Solemnly, this winter might look different for many of Winter Park’s loyal shredders, rippers of groomers, and seekers of pow. As of the 2023/24 season, a new pass add-on is being introduced that allows those willing to shell out some extra cash the opportunity to ride the chairlifts early and claim first tracks.
The pass dubbed ‘Early Up’ was announced on September 7th on Winter Park’s Instagram in a post outlining the general details. The daily add-on passes will cost visitors an additional $50 to ride the lift 30 minutes before the public. Purchasers can secure the add-on seven days in advance and will have early access to intermediate and advanced terrain serviced by Super Gauge, Gondola, and Explorer lifts. An Early Up season pass can be purchased for $600.
The announcement was met with heavy criticism from the community, who don’t want to see the skier tradition of earning your spot in the lift line be erased by the greed of their local resort. The most liked comment on the post stated:
“I will be throwing snowballs [at] every single person I see getting on the lift with an early ups pass.”
As ski resorts become more corporatized and the “mega-pass” business model grows in popularity, the rollouts of these add-ons will stretch to our most beloved resorts. The sport has increased significantly in popularity, and we can’t blame the resorts for changing to capitalize on it. We the skiers and riders benefit from it too, and it is best to stay positive and embrace the changes that don’t hurt us. Winter Park has over 3,000 skiable acres to its name, so there is no rational fear that an extra 30 minutes of early lift access for others will rob you of a great powder day. In my opinion, if you’re looking for fresh untracked powder, head to the backcountry with the proper gear and safety training.