Getting cheated on your ski area season pass definitely falls under the category of First World problems, but, in a region with a legion of snow sports enthusiasts, it is not inconsequential.
Right now, with more than 30,000 signatures, one of the hottest petitions on Change.org is aimed at Vail Resorts, alleging gross mismanagement of one of Washington’s most treasured boutique ski areas, Stevens Pass, and failure to honor promises made to season pass holders.
For generations, Stevens Pass has been a favorite venue for local skiers and snowboarders. It is not a destination resort in the league of Whistler or even Crystal Mountain, but, because of diverse terrain, plentiful snow and fairly long runs, a day or night at Stevens offers some seriously fun skiing just 90 minutes from the heart of Seattle.
In 2018, Vail, one of the two conglomerates that have been gobbling up ski areas all over the West, purchased the Stevens area, and it did not take long for customers to start griping. The current petition decries the abysmally inadequate parking that too often forces skiers to turn around and go home, and the endless chairlift lines caused by Vail’s decision to keep 60% of the terrain closed this season. The petition says Vail has oversold season passes and is failing to honor the promises made in the marketing of those passes.
Vail blames these difficulties on avalanche control concerns and a shortage of workers. The petitioners respond by pointing out that other local ski area operators, from Crystal, White Pass and Mission Ridge to Snoqualmie, Alpental and Mount Baker, are generally not experiencing the same problems. Vail, they say, is piling up profits by selling more passes than they can accommodate while not offering fair wages that would attract enough employees.
Will Vail find a way to address this blizzard of complaints? Or is it just too cozy inside those corporate offices in Colorado for them to care?