The Aspen-Winter Park-Steamboat deal won’t affect your Rocky Mountain Superpass just yet

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo
A sun dog on a sub-zero day at Winter Park. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)

A sun dog on a sub-zero day at Winter Park. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)

Intrawest, the company that operates Winter Park and owns the Steamboat Ski Resort, is set to be sold to Aspen Skiing Company and a private equity firm for $1.5 billion.

Now, if you’re a Winter Park skier, like me, this might send a shiver up your ski boots. Isn’t Aspen kind of expensive? Are they going to change the Rocky Mountain Superpass?

Well, we don’t know – but don’t expect any changes just yet, as the Superpass already is on sale for next season.

“I don’t believe there are any plans right now to change the RMSP for 2017-18,” wrote Steve Hurlbert, Winter Park spokesman, in an email to Denverite. ” … (B)ut this new entity does create some exciting possibilities for the future.”

We also heard from Jeff Hanle, spokesman for Aspen Skiing Co.

“There are no changes on any pass products for the 2017-2018 season. All resorts will continue to operate as they have with current teams in place at this point,” he wrote.

Certainly, I’d expect we’ll eventually see a season pass that includes some combination of Winter Park, Steamboat and the Aspen resorts.

One big question is whether the new entity will keep its relationships with Copper Mountain and Eldora Mountain Resort. Both are part of the current Superpass but are not owned by Intrawest.

Also, will the new arrangement keep the Superpass at its current pricing level, assuming it does survive in its current state?

As it stands, the Superpass is the cheaper Colorado skiing option, compared to Epic, though it comes with fewer resort options at each tier. The highest tier of the Superpass gives you three unlimited mountains for about the same price as you’ll pay for two mountains (A-Basin and Keystone) under the competing Epic system, plus bonus days elsewhere for each.

Will we be forced to pay more and get more mountains in exchange, or will we also keep a cheaper, more-limited option? I personally don’t expect too much of a hike, as the two middle tiers of the Epic pass are fairly close in price to the RMSP, and they’ve got to stay competitive. Otherwise, I guess you’ll find me stomping Eldora all year?

One interesting wrinkle is that this will take Intrawest off the stock market. Aspen Skiing Company and KSL Capital Partners both are private companies.

Intrawest also owns Snowshoe in West Virginia, Stratton Mountain in Vermont, Mont Tremblant in Quebec, Blue Mountain in Ontario and the Canadian Mountain Holidays heliskiing operation in British Columbia.

KSL Capital owns Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows near Lake Tahoe, while Aspen Skiing owns Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk resorts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.