Epic Australia Pass 2020 $889 vs 6 days Thredbo $954

Vail Resort’s decision not just to honour the Epic Australia Pass 2020 but leave it on sale to June 28 at $889 for Adults, $499 for Students and $685 for Seniors for season use at Perisher, Falls, and Hotham is huge.*

Compared to Thredbo’s flat daily rate of $159 and no multi day deals or discounts. Six days for $954, ski a week and you’re up for $1,113 ..

In 40 years skiing Australia, 30 plus of those reporting on it, I can’t remember a clearer or bigger differential in ski pass value downunder.

Clean powder lines at Hotham
Toshi Pander showing why Hotham is Japow downiunder when it’s on © Joel Mekin / Hotham Alpine Resort

Thredbo has already cancelled their 2020 season passes, offering previous purchasers of those the option of refunds or to go into a convoluted “lottery” system of pre-booking days. Different discount levels apply after a former season pass holder gets to 10, 15 and 20 days pre-purchased and dates booked. Originally the log in to do that was set for midnight Wedesday night, as we reported last week. Following criticism of that process they switched the start time to noon Thursday. Today. But the process and rates remain the same – 10 days Friday – Monday in main season would be $950 for example plus $95 daily to 15 days etc (see rates table at bottom).

Which is bad enough for those who had purchased season passes. For those that haven’t, it’s $159 daily for adults. Yep, daily every day you ski. No multi-day or other online discounts are available.

So that equals 6 days at Thredbo for $954 this season. And those days need to be pre-booked subject to availability until mid-September.

Whereas grab an Epic Australia Pass 2020 and you can ski as much as you can at any or all of Perisher, Falls and Hotham. *Up to July 12 it is subject to capacity available and you need to pre-reserve use days, then from July 13 not so – full details here (subject to sufficient terrain being open).

Plus all the benefits available internationally.

The only real downside to the Epic Australia Pass this year is there is no Skitube option for those who prefer to take the Tube, as numbers will be limited on that. If you need to get chains as a result try the friendly crew at Ski Co Hire Cooma – they are right behind Maccas, so while someone scores the coffees etc someone else can go get the chains.

To get up to get out to Twin Valleys or wherever will cost you $42 at Thredbo for a ‘Backcountry Access Pass’ © Owain Price

If you just want to ski the back and side country Thredbo’s Backcountry Access Pass, (aka a single chair ride) takes you one way up the Kosciuszko Express Chairlift for $42. So 21 days of backcountry at Thredbo is the same as an Epic Australia Pass for the other 3 resorts to ride their lifts and mix it with their side and backcountry as you feel like on the day all season.

How many great pow days start in bounds, you smash what you can, then head out? That said, with an Epic Oz Pass as the main weapon I’d pay $42 to get easier access to Twin Valleys etc no problem.

Vail backbowls back on the Epic Australia Pass menu when flights resume © Owain Price

In Victoria Buller have honoured their Season Memberships, which are still available at current rates, and they are set to run as normal a season as possible, so anyone who got those at earlybird rates has also done well.

We have said previously the Epic Australia Pass is the World’s best ski pass value – the more so the more the Aussie dollar tanked. Just recently the Aussie has bounced back from USD 58c lows to break USD 70c (and hit JPY 75), welcome news if it holds up/keeps going.

Which leaves some big decisions for Thredbo skiers and riders who won’t get their Season Pass this year.

Is the alternative worth the effort?

Or why not go see and ski the alternatives: Falls has a great village, Hotham is Australia’s powder capital when it’s on, even if as a diehard Thredbo skier you always preferred it to Perisher.

For those struggling with COVID job/business losses still wanting to max their snow time the Epic Australia Pass is even more a no brainer this year.

The bottom line for Vail Resorts is not limited to what happens downunder.

How well their trio of Australian resorts manage the COVID-19 limited/affected season will be hugely important to the company in ensuring their North American resorts do likewise next winter. Summer activities at those are set to resume soon.

They are off to a great start backing in their Epic Passes and looking after their loyal customer base.

As for lift capacity, they are doing the smart thing and allowing ‘households’ to ride together to maximise lift capacity while restrictions last – there was never any valid reason to limit it to singles or ‘familys’ as we pointed out a while back with a simple equation to show how Thredbo could have only had to reduce capacity by 25% not 50%. Common sense would dictate a group traveling long distance and staying together in their snow accommodation are effectively a household as far as any possible virus transmission (& tracking if required) goes.

Epic Australia Pass access to the international Vail Resorts and partners continues, subject of course to travel to America, Canada and Japan (for affiliate resorts where your Epic Australia Pass is useable) being back on the menu.

Speaking of travel, how long do we have to wait for New Zealand flights?

As we have reported, NZ is go – resorts start with Mt Hutt this weekend, Tasman Glacier skiing was available since Monday last week.

But Aussies can’t go there. I guess you could hold off to see if flights re-appear and at what price level/availability prior to 28 June to make a decision on that. Otherwise, the Epic Australia Pass 2020 is a clear winner for value, variety and ease of use.

(*up to July 11 it is subject to capacity available and you need to pre-reserve use days, then from July 12 not so – full details here)

Thredbo ex-season pass holder pre book rates

Sam Perry off the roof at Falls © Matt Hull www.themattimage.com