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Surely, skiers and snowboarders have been expecting major changes to resort operating procedures as winter looms and COVID-19 still ravages the country. This week, plans for how the majorest of the major resorts will handle lift ticket sales and priorities have been outlined.

In short, no walk-up sales this year. Planning ahead is the only way to get on many resort slopes.

Pass holders for the two biggies in terms of resort companies, Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass and Alterra’s Ikon Pass will get first dibs at the mountains those two companies operate, though there are key differences.

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Vail Resorts announced last month that all skiers will require reservations, including Epic Pass holders, at all 34 mountains it owns and manages in North America. Online reservations for Vail Resorts open on November 6, and for a solid month, only Epic Pass holders will have access to any open mountains. Reservations for non-pass holders open on December 7.

Alterra isn’t yet mandating that all resorts it operates adopt a reservation system, though, they are shuttering walk-up sales. Some resorts have announced they’ll require reservations, others haven’t decided, and still others are not planning to institute reservations but will only allow online sales of lift tickets.

“We are prioritizing access for season pass holders and will tightly regulate the number of daily lift tickets that will be available by advance purchase only,” said Rusty Gregory, Alterra CEO. “To this end, walk-up window sales will be eliminated, and the sale of some undated lift ticket products will be discontinued until further notice.”

For Ikon pass holders to plan, they’ll have to visit individual resort websites to determine what the reservation policies are. Vail Resorts essentially chose the opposite direction: make a universal reservation system now, then evaluate later on whether or not individual resorts can loosen their restrictions.

“It is possible that at some point in the season, as we evaluate the dynamics of our operations, we may decide that we no longer need the reservation system at certain resorts,” said Rob Katz, CEO of Vail Resorts. “However, with so many uncertainties, we believe it is only prudent to have this system in place now.”

We’ll update as we learn more.

Photo: Chris Leipelt/Unsplash

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