Ski pass prices up again 

Increases driven by mounting costs but still in line with inflation

By Clare Ogilvie

Swooshing down the slopes of Whistler-Blackcomb will cost a little more this season.

The most popular season’s pass, the unlimited dual mountain, will now cost $1,329, plus GST, on or before Oct. 13, and $1,639 plus tax after.

Last year the early bird price was $1,289.

"That is a three-per-cent increase over last year, which is in line with inflation," said Stuart Rempel, vice-president of marketing and sales for the mountains.

What’s driving the increase he said was the on-going upgrades to the mountain itself, the high cost of labour in the resort, and skyrocketing insurance and fuel prices.

"Our costs are going up and certainly we have spent a ton of money on on-mountain improvements," said Rempel.

"We have invested in more enhanced snowmaking, we have done quite a bit of work in the area of Highway 86, where it comes out into Grand Finale, and there are other examples.

"We have been just looking at areas around the mountain where there is congestion and looking to widen some (of those) areas. So we are spending a significant amount of money to upgrade and improve the mountain."

Rempel said the mountains’ single biggest cost is labour. But he is adamant that even though the cost of the pass far exceeds other nearby resorts it is great value for money.

"People can ski from November to June and this year we have also added the first two weeks of glacier skiing, so pass holders can ski on Blackcomb Mountain Glacier for free for the first two weeks of the season," said Rempel.

There are also a variety of pass holder perks available, such as discounts at the espresso bars first thing in the morning and discounts on demos and rentals and other items.

Pass holders also get to sightsee all summer for free on the mountains and they get a discount at the bike park.

Rempel said the mountains also work hard to make sure that locals and regional skiers never have to pay full price at the ticket window.

Check out www.whistlerblackcomb.com for all the packages available.

For example regional skiers can get discounted tickets at 7-Eleven stores, seven to 18-year-olds in the Sea-to-Sky corridor can get a 10-day pass for just $209, specially priced passes are available for university and college students who are from the community, the Express cards will be on offer again this year, and Chamber of Commerce Spirit Program participants will get almost a 30 per cent discount on the $1,639 price-tag for an unlimited season’s pass.

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