Pay Powder

How much would you pay to ski fresh powder? Does it even have a price? Squaw valley seems to think so. Squaw is built on private rather than forestry service land with limited access to the backcountry. That is set to change as it re-jigs lift pass prices in light of the credit crunch.

Earlier this year the Californian ski resort announced a headline grabbing $1000 early bird discount for its bronze lift pass to celebrate its 60th birthday (and 50 years since it hosted the Winter Olympics). For just $649 skiers could hit the pistes with certain restrictions on peak periods including Saturdays.

The resort has always strictly controlled access to the out-bounds terrain including the National Geographic bowl, at least if you are a Squaw paying customer. For that you will need to purchase the eye-wateringly expensive platinum pass at $1699. This enrols you in the “out of bounds program”. According the FAQ:

“As weather and conditions permit, we will schedule (on short notice) a guided out of bounds tour and notify Platinum Passholders by email.  We have different terrain options and will make a determination on the tour based on best conditions.  For now, terrain to include Shirley Canyon, Happy Valley and Lemming Ridge.”. You also get one early up day per month to get first turns in the inbounds powder.
As one poster on the Teton Gravity forum commented “It’s a bit of BS… they are NOT taking people in to Nat Geo bowl. Nat Geo”. There is a solution is the DIY outbounds programme. Earning your turns by skinning into the backcountry areas. This is not strictly legal if you cross into Squaw territory but seems to be tolerated by ski patrol, as long as you don’t use their lifts.

Could this idea work elsewhere? We are sure that the bean counters at the Compagnie des Alpes, which controls many of France’s top ski areas, will be watching this development with interest. France has fewer restrictions on backcountry access compared to the states. Under their wide ranging “police powers” some mayors have passed bye-laws controlling or banning access to certain areas considered dangerous. Nature reserves and national parks are also restricted with guards levelling steep fines if they catch you. One area is the back of the Aiguille Grives at les Arcs which is a wintering area for some rare mountain birds. However Jean- Louis Tuallion who runs the Tignes piste service is doubtful, he told Pistehors “if you build a fence the French will go around it, that is their nature”.

Posted by davidof on Saturday, 31 October, 2009 at 10:14 AM

Nope, can’t resist sorry. I thought it was the Germans who went round fences the French built

*hangs head in shame*

Posted by  on  Monday, 02 November, 2009  at 09:22 AM

Please don’t become like us stupid Americans.  The only reason we have the restrictions we do is because being a blood sucking lawyer is considered a noble career.

Posted by  on  Wednesday, 04 November, 2009  at 03:30 PM

Hehehe! Glad to see I wasn’t the only one who had that thought! Thanks nbt!

Posted by ES on  Wednesday, 04 November, 2009  at 07:12 PM

Your welcome.  There is so much that we cannot do here in America because of the fear of being sued compared to when I was a kid in the 1970’s.  What we never seem to understand is you can’t make everyone safe from harm all the time, where’s the balance.

Posted by  on  Friday, 06 November, 2009  at 03:58 PM
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