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Breaking Down Our Season Pass Pricing

Every year, when April comes, Mt. Ashland launches its season pass sale for the next season.  It’s an important piece of the mountain’s operations each year, as the proceeds from the early sale fund the fixed expenses of the ski area through the summer and fall.  The spring sale comes with steep discounts on season pass prices, for those loyal guests who support the mountain many months before the snow returns.  This year, our pricing for several passes was increased more than we’ve typically seen, and I wanted to take a minute to discuss the changes.

One thing that is very important to consider is the ownership structure of Mt. Ashland.  Something that makes us very unique is that we’re operated by a nonprofit.  There are several different nonprofit ski area models out there.  Some mountains are co-ops, where pass holders are owners of the mountain and have a voting stake.  Other mountains are membership associations or clubs where pass holders “join” their local mountain.  Mt. Ashland is a nonprofit corporation, which, interestingly, the mountain owns itself for the purpose of being something the community can enjoy and improve the quality of life in southern Oregon.  The critical point here is that most mountains have a drive to make a profit because most ski areas have a requirement to pay dividends to shareholders or produce a paycheck for the ownership.  But, at Mt. Ashland that is not something that exists- it’s not in our DNA.  We don’t have a drive to make a substantial profit because our purpose is to be here in perpetuity, to serve our guests, and to ensure sustainability.  Our Board of Directors are all volunteers and receive no compensation–decisions are made based on sustainability and never on increasing profit.  And, when there is a surplus from operations at the end of a season, those funds are reinvested back into the ski area.

When we make price increases, it is solely based on sustainability and rooted in the expenses of the ski area.  We operate very leanly, ensuring that we can best steward our resources.  In the past 10 years, we’ve seen that our expenses have been rising at a rate that is far faster than the rate at which we’ve increased prices.  Those expenses include paying our staff a fair and competitive wage, exponential increases in insurance costs, fuel, and most of the supplies that we require to operate.  Inflation certainly plays a role on top of the increases we see.  This year it has been evident that this growing disparity is not sustainable and that we needed to be more focused on this part of our business.  It is unfortunate and not something that we do lightly, but it is necessary to ensure the financial sustainability of the ski area.

This year we did increase the prices on the adult season pass and child season pass.  We did not make any changes to the young child, senior, or teen passes–we did notice that the price of the teen pass has previously been getting raised at a rate faster than our other passes so we kept it the same.  Our Twilight Passes will also remain the same price for next season, and anticipate that if we offer an uphill pass it will not see any increase.

I want to express that I understand the concern and feedback we’ve received about the pass price increases.  Please know that when we do make these kinds of changes it is solely for the health and livelihood of Mt. Ashland, and to ensure that we succeed far into the future.

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