Sunlight Resort to begin charging fee for uphill access, day or night | PostIndependent.com

Sunlight Resort to begin charging fee for uphill access, day or night

A pair of snowboarders use snowshoes to make their way up Midway at Sunlight Mountain Resort last season.
Courtesy Sunlight Mountain Resort

If you want to skin up Sunlight Mountain this season, you’ll be asked to put some more skin in the game.

Sunlight Mountain Resort, located outside Glenwood Springs, now requires uphill skiers and snowshoers to pay for the privilege of what until now has been a form of free access to the mountain’s powder stashes and corduroy groomers.

Uphill privileges come with the purchase of a regular Sunlight season pass, multi-day or day pass, according to Troy Hawks, sales and marketing director for Sunlight Mountain Resort. 

However, anyone who wants to skip the lift access and skin or snowshoe up the mountain will need to purchase either a special day or season pass to do so. Dogs are not allowed at any time.

A one-day uphill ticket will cost $10, and a season uphill passport can be purchased for $50.

“The goal of the passport program is to preserve the privilege of up-hilling while preventing accidents and injuries, as well as establishing and maintaining a communicative dialogue with uphill users,” according to Sunlight’s revised uphill policy, which Hawks said was borrowed from neighboring Aspen Skiing Company.

Though the Aspen areas — Aspen Mountain, Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass — do not charge a fee for uphilling, some prohibit access during operating hours and designate specific uphill routes.

Like the Aspen ski areas and others across Colorado, Sunlight has seen a marked increase in the number of uphill users during regular hours of operation, as well as both before the lifts open and after they close.

“We used to see maybe a dozen people a day, but now it’s several dozen,” Hawks said. “With those numbers, we decided it was time to charge at least a nominal fee to help with some investment in better signage and other improvements.”

Sunlight began its free uphill passport program three years ago, which just asked people to register and sign a waiver, with no fee. It now has an active list of about 800 people who’ve signed up for the program. 

Hawks emphasized the “preserving the privilege” message in the new fee-based policy. 

While Sunlight wants to accommodate those who wish to trek up the mountain under their own power, it’s a privilege that could be revoked at any time at the resort managers’ discretion, he said.

“There is a concern when you have a lot of people going downhill and some going uphill, and the potential conflicts that can present,” Hawks said.

Other ski resorts around Colorado and in other states are adopting similar policies, he said.

“It’s something we want to be in front of and watch the trend, and make sure the industry is all on the same page.”

Currently, with the scheduled opening day still three weeks out on Dec. 13, the mountain is closed to skiing, hiking and other means of foot access while snowmaking and grooming operations are in full force.

Preseason preparations can pose extra risks if people are on the mountain, between snowcat drivers not being able to see skiers or snowshoers, especially at night, and the potential for skis to cut high-pressure water hoses used for snowmaking, Hawks added.

Once the mountain does open — which could be early if this week’s forecasted snowstorms pan out, Hawks said — uphill users will be required to obtain a day or season pass. The pass must be worn visibly on an exterior piece of clothing or equipment.

Season pass holders are also required to check in with Guest Services for a separate, free uphill pass to be visibly displayed.

Read Sunlight’s revised uphill policy here:

jstroud@postindependent.com


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