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Uphill Access Pass Q&A

Updated 11/28/23

What is Uphill Access?  Does this impact “regular” skiers?

Uphill Access is using skins or snowshoes to climb uphill before skiing down.  For most guests, those riding chairlifts, this has no impact.

How do I purchase my Uphill Access pass?

Go to the Uphill Access page.  Click the link on the bottom of the page and begin your purchase process.  Once you sign the waiver and purchase, you will receive an email with link to watch a mandatory safety video and sign a second waiver.  After you have completed this process, you may pick-up your armband and pass.

Why is there a fee?

Management of uphill access requires mountain resources and the fee will help offset those expenses.  Skiing and snowboarding off-hours uses the snow resource needed to operate the ski area, and during times not available to those with lift passes,  Proceeds from the uphill access pass will be dedicated to mountain safety and ski touring programs.  The most equitable solution for those who can or want to only ski using chairlifts is to provide a separate pass for access during off-hours.

We looked at 20 mountains with similar programs, and the average price was $74 (highest $149, lowest $25). We needed to account for costs of the wristbands and passes, production of educational materials, maintenance of signage and website, and desire to support programs like touring clinics, safety courses, additional safety video production, and possibility of supporting the fledgling southern Oregon avalanche center. $45 Felt like a sweet-spot priced much less than most other mountains, yet enough to support needs and show commitment from users. 

Why do season pass holders need to purchase an Uphill Access Pass?

The season pass is specifically for lift-served skiing and snowboarding.  Uphill Access is a completely different type of product.  Having all skiers buy into the program makes it an equitable situation for season passholders who can not, or choose not to, uphill.  Many of those passholders would choose to ski on Tuesdays if the lifts were open and allowing others to access the facility on those days would be an unfair practice. 

Why do children need to purchase an Uphill Access Pass?

The Uphill Access Pass is an authorization to enter the ski area and recreate in accordance with the ski area’s rules.  Anyone who participates must engage in some basic safety education, and should be skilled and equipped for backcountry conditions.  This pass is not a learn-to-ski, educational, or child-focused product.  Children who participate in uphill travel are very likely 7 years old or older.  Mt. Ashland’s lift tickets are free to children 6 and under.  In this way, the Uphill Access Pass is comparable to our philosophy on lift tickets.

Why isn’t there a day pass option?

Our ticket office is not open during times when Uphill Access is permitted.  At $45 for the season, the Uphill Pass is very affordable and 41% less expensive than the US average for these types of passes ($77 US average).  For a visitor who comes once every two weeks during the season to ski tour, that comes out to only $5 per visit.

Why are there designated routes?

This helps manage the traffic and minimize the opportunity for vehicle conflicts.  Designated routes for uphill and downhill are an essential component of modern uphill policy.  This also helps preserve untracked powder turns on some trails for lift-served guests.  The purpose of the ski area is for lift-served skiing.

Are designated routes for just uphill?

No.  The designated routes apply to both uphill and downhill travel.

Why is there no evening access during operating days?

In order to provide the best surface possible every morning, our grooming team works from 4pm-8am every night.  To accommodate uphill access in the mornings, we have adjusted our grooming schedule to shift all winch cat operations toward the first part of the shifts.  The goal is for work on the northwest trails to be nearly accomplished by the time the 5:30am uphill access opens every morning. This requires aggressive work in the evenings.

Why are Wednesdays unavailable for uphill access after 8:30am, even though the ski area is closed?

In order to open the ski area on-time on Thursdays, Wednesday is a work day for the grooming team and occasionally the lift and patrol teams.  This time is needed to work on the terrain parks and to do larger projects that can’t be completed during overnight operations.  Wednesday is also an important workday for storm recovery on some weeks.  Tuesday is less likely to have impacts to uphill access, but Tuesdays may require grooming work when we have extreme snow conditions (low or high).

Can we hike from Ariel summit up to the radar ball and ski down? 

The radar station (aka. The Ball, aka BRT) is not within the ski area boundary.  Therefore, during operating hours there is no prohibition from walking out the backcountry gate at the summit, hiking out-of-bounds to the summit, and skiing down.  It is important to note that this means leaving the ski area and ski area service’s.  As this outside the ski area, it does not require an Uphill Access Pass.  This is not permitted during hours when there are designated uphill/downhill routes- as access into the ski area crosses winch lines.

Can I hike up the southside and ski down the ski area without an Uphill Access pass?

No.  The Uphill Access pass is required for all access into the ski area during off-hours, and only on designated routes and designated hours.  But, anyone can always hike up the southside and ski down outside the ski area boundary–this is backcountry.

Can I hike and ski in the “expansion” zones?

Yes- these are backcountry zones.  Similar to the “Honeypot” or “Gnarnia” areas.  There are hundreds of acres of good backcountry skiing close by.  For those with the proper skills and equipment, these areas are incredible resources for the community.

As a nonprofit mountain, why is Mt. Ashland restricting uphill access instead of opening it more?

Uphill access is available at about 50% of ski areas in the country, and at about 50% of the nonprofit mountains.  Although we have a desire to support ski touring and skimo, the unique topography and terrain of our mountain makes any type of access a challenge for mountain operations and lift-served skiing.  Lift-served skiing is the intent of our ski area permit and we must place lift-served operations as the highest priority.

Why is The Bowl always closed during Uphill Access hours?

When the ski area is closed, avalanche mitigation work is not done.  

Why isn’t Mt. Ashland following the trend of focusing uphill access during operating hours?

This would be the best scenario, but our unique terrain makes a viable in-bounds uphill route challenging.  We will use the first month of the season to look closely at Caliban and determine if we feel uphill traffic is possible; our concern is the width, pitch, and curve of Caliban, as well as the traffic that exits from the trees and location for a transition zone that doesn’t interfere with downhill traffic.

What is the penalty for violation of the uphill policy?

The current policy is a mandatory 7-operating day suspension of all skiing privileges and completion of a safety education program.  A second violation results in termination of skiing privileges.

How will the Uphill Pass be enforced?

Ensuring that all guests abide by required safety and guest policies is handled the same during open and off-hours.  Unauthorized access to the ski area is considered trespassing.

Is this new Uphill Policy permanent?

We will evaluate the policy in action every month, both for conflicts but also looking for additional opportunities.

Anything else?

We are investigating the viability of an operating hours route around the northwest boundary (outside the line) that would start at the base area and end possibly at the base of 2nd Bowl.  Long term, there is a possibility that we develop the expansion territory as an uphill-only area, similar to what was tested at Bluebird in Colorado.  Our desire is to foster the uphill skiing opportunity in a way that stewards our lift-served skiing operations.

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