Dan Cochrane, a longtime season pass holder at Mt. Bachelor, was upset when he heard about the ski area’s plans to start a new fast-pass ticket system this winter that allows people to pay extra to skip the line at certain chairlifts.
Hundreds of other skiers and snowboarders shared Cochrane’s concern on the Facebook group, Mt. Bachelor Conditions. For the past week, members of the group have said the new pass is unfair for those who can’t afford it and will make the wait times longer in the regular chairlift lines.
“It just feels like such a slap in the face,” Cochrane said. “This is clearly targeting out of towners and the uber-rich who have moved to town recently.”
The new pass, called Fast Tracks, starts at $49 and the price will vary based on high-demand days, according to the ski resort. Mt. Bachelor is calling the pass an “upgradable experience” that allows visitors to get in more ski runs each day.
Cochrane, a 49-year-old real estate appraiser in Bend who enjoys snowboarding at Mt. Bachelor, started a petition Sunday to have the resort stop its fast passes. As of Tuesday, the petition had more than 3,700 signatures.
The response showed Cochrane how much the local ski and snowboard community felt blindsided by Mt. Bachelor’s decision, he said. Cochrane questions the timing of unveiling the fast pass, which was formally announced Monday.
The pass was not offered with any season-pass packages and comes after the resort eliminated the 12-day pass option, Cochrane said.
“They are continuing to strip away local options for people to ski affordably and instead going the other direction to cater to the wealthy and offer expensive add-ons to cut past the local pass holders,” Cochrane said.
Leigh Capozzi, director of brand and communications at Mt. Bachelor, said the pricing for the Fast Tracks pass will be the same for season-pass or single-day ticket holders. Fast Tracks ticket holders will have a dedicated lane at each chairlift, she said.
“Fast Tracks will have a capped inventory each day, and we anticipate the limited quantity sold will have minimal impact — if any — on wait times,” Capozzi said.
Capozzi did not say how many fast-pass tickets would be available each day.
In a press release Monday, the ski resort announced its opening day for the winter season will be Nov. 26 and it will start selling its fast-pass tickets starting Nov. 1. The pass will be available in advance online or in-person at the resort’s ticket window or guest service locations.
The pass allows visitors to skip the line at Pine Marten, Sunrise, Skyliner, Cloudchaser, Outback, Northwest, Summit, Red Chair and Little Pine chairlifts. Early Riser, Alpenglow and Rainbow lifts will not offer a Fast Tracks lane, according to the resort.
Cochrane understands Powdr Corp., the company that owns Mt. Bachelor, introduced the fast pass at its other resorts.
Those resorts are more geared toward tourists and do not have the same passionate local crowd that has been coming for decades, Cochrane said.
“We have gone through a lot of growth in the past 20 years, but it’s still a small town and you have a core element of longtime riders, like myself, that have been here for decades,” Cochrane said.
Cochrane worries the fast pass will create division on the mountain. He’s already heard from people who are threatening to interfere with the fast pass lanes and blow air horns in protest, he said.
“They are really setting up for some very ugly feelings on the hill,” Cochrane said. “It’s splitting the community at a time when we need community more than ever before.”