The price of a season pass at Vail Resorts has been climbing steadily for the last decade, without any indication of slowing down or levelling out any time soon. The price of a full Epic Pass for the 2020/21 season was $979 and just about everyone expected that to break the $1000 mark in 2021/22.

However, the conglomerate resort company surprised everyone on Wednesday, when they announced that they would be slashing Epic mountain ticket prices by a full 20% moving forward — reverting to a price-point that skiers and boarders haven’t seen in this state since 2015.

“The ski industry, our company and skiers and riders everywhere just navigated the most challenging season we have ever encountered” wrote Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz in a press release. “Today, as we double down on our pass strategy by dramatically reducing our pass prices, we are excited to make it easier for everyone to move into a pass, and we remain fully committed to ensuring continuous improvements in the guest experience.”

The welcome surprise comes almost a year to date from the March 2020 COVID closure of ski resorts across the country. After a season plagued by poor snow, reservation systems, huge lift crowds, parking problems, refund issues, confusion, madness and general discontent, they’re throwing their customers a bone. The discount slashes prices for season passes, day passes dining, lodging, group ski and ride school lessons, equipment rentals and more. The full Epic pass will drop to $783 and the Epic local will drop to $583.

All while Alterra’s pass prices stay stagnant.

It’s the complete opposite approach to that of Arapahoe Basin, who recently announced that they will be reducing the number of passes they sell by 10% and actually raising the price of their season pass. A decision that most locals were happy to hear, as it means fewer guests on any given day, less traffic and more parking.

However, Vail is also getting praise for their announcement too. The pandemic has caused financial uncertainty for in a lot of people’s lives — this will save money for individuals, families and businesses who buy their employees passes, at a time when savings are needed more than ever. And, it keeps skiing affordable for people, at a time when outdoor escapes are more valuable than they’ve ever been.

If these price reductions remain permanent, remains to be seen (and, IMO, remains doubtful). Nevertheless, the ball is now in Alterra’s court. What are they going to do, if anything, to keep the Ikon pass competitive?

Here’s to hoping for Alterra’s “30% off” response.