Remember the local ski hills of yesteryear? A rope-tow, a couple of chairlifts, a shanty-town of shacks that performed various functions...one to sell tickets, one to serve coffee and hot chocolate, one to thaw out frozen ski patrollers. The parking lot was a tailgate party with thermoses of coffee, coolers of beer and hibachi grills searing burgers and dogs. It was back when skiing was a pastime; long before it became an "industry."
With the "corporatization" and industrialization of skiing, most of the shacks have been torn down to make room for posh lodges that serve 5-star cuisine. The shacks that remain on the periphery have been converted to storage sheds for snow shovels and such. Rope tows have given way to high-speed quad lifts, even on the bunny hill. It's considered "progress," and most skiers are content to take the good with the bad.
As more and more local ski hills are swept up in acquisitions, mergers, buy-outs and takeovers, they fall under various "mondo-pass" models...buy a single pass and gain access to dozens of resorts. It sounds good in theory, but it has its drawbacks.
It's not unlike Disneyland, where, once you've dropped several hundred dollars on entry, you become a bit of a hostage, forced to drop several hundred more on your Disney-diet of Mickey-burgers and Minnie-fries.
The old days of spending your season's ski budget chasing storms, buying day passes around the west and checking off a dozen new resorts has been replaced with trying to log enough ski days at a couple of "participating resorts" to justify the purchase of your "mondo-pass." Gone is the sense of adventure, exploration and discovery that comes from road-tripping to different resorts.
However, for those looking to step back in time, there is no better place than Ogden, Utah. The city itself has been able to maintain the relevant architecture and feel of its booming history that so many other cities bulldozed during the strip mall phase of the 1970s.
The resorts that surround Ogden range from the old-school learning hills of the past to the most opulent resorts around. Even more impressive is the fact that these diverse resorts have retained their independence, while coming together to offer their own take on the "mondo-pass" idea: Ski 3.
Designed to attract out-of-area skiers, the deeply discounted pass is available to any visitor who books two nights of accommodations in or around Ogden. Here's how it works:
Upon check-in at any participating lodging partner...and options run the full gamut from major hotel chains (Hilton Garden Inn, Courtyard Marriott, Hampton Inn, Comfort Suites, Holiday Inn Express, etc.) to boutique offerings to short-term condos and home rentals...the front desk provides a card with a promo code.
The card provides the details, but it goes something like this...you go to skiogden.com where you'll find a simple interface that lets you purchase as many "Ski 3 for $139" packages as you have guests in your party, using the unique promo code. Upon completing your transaction, you'll receive a text message on your phone. That text message will walk you through the rest of the process. It will include a link that will open your internet browser and invite you to drop a home-screen icon on your phone. From that app-like icon, you'll have access to your passes and be able to share them with other members of your party if you want.
Here's the best way to take advantage of your "Ski 3" passes:
NORDIC VALLEY: This quaint little resort is one of the few remaining "hometown ski hills" in existence. It's very much like the resorts of yesteryear described above. It is the perfect place to get your ski legs under you after traveling to the area. Your Ski 3 pass can be used for a full-day pass or night skiing...ideal if you arrive in Utah in the afternoon. Three lifts serve a variety of terrain and the entire resort is accessible for night skiing.
Simply take your phone to the ticket window and present the electronic pass information. The ticket agent will redeem the passes and give your your lift tickets.
POWDER MOUNTAIN: Until Vail's acquisition and merging of Park City and The Canyons resorts last year, Powder Mountain was the largest ski area in North America. With over 7,000 acres of lift-served, cat-served and backcountry terrain, this is a resort you want to hit at first chair and ski until close. Recently purchased by the Summit Group, Powder Mountain is in that transitional phase between the hardcore locals' secret spot and what looks to become a significant development boom.
The drill is the same. Present the electronic passes on your phone to any of the three different ticket windows around the resort and get your lift ticket.
SNOWBASIN: Snowbasin was the venue for several events during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, including the marquis event, the downhill. With amenities that rival more well known swanky resorts like Deer Valley, Snowbasin features two high-speed gondolas and several high-speed quad lifts as well as opulent lodges and fine dining.
Present your electronic pass information at the Activities Desk in Earl's Lodge to obtain your lift passes.
If your party should decide to go separate ways and ski different resorts on a given day, passes can easily be separated and texted to various individuals.
Of course, your Ski 3 experience should include the apres ski scene in downtown Ogden among its galleries, eateries and bars. More details are available at skiogden.com