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Wyden calls on Mt. Bachelor to scrap new ‘Fast Tracks’ pass, raises equity concerns

'Snow sports are already expensive enough,' senator says

WASHINGTON (KTVZ) -- Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., expressed concerns Wednesday in a letter to the parent company of Mt. Bachelor that the introduction of the "Fast Tracks" pass at the Central Oregon ski resort will result in inequitable access to public lands, and called on the business to "abandon its plans."

"Given the serious concerns this policy raises about equitable access to the public lands on which Mt. Bachelor operates under its U.S. Forest Service Special Use permit, I request that POWDR abandon its plans to adopt this new pass system," Wyden wrote in a letter to POWDR Corp. Chair and Founder John Cumming. 

"At a minimum, POWDR must delay implementation until it adequately explains to the public how the Fast Tracks policy will not exacerbate equity issues that already exist in outdoor recreation," the senator added.

Earlier this week, Mt. Bachelor ski area parent company POWDR announced its intention to implement a day-of pass upgrade system at several of its resorts for the upcoming 2021/22 season that offers "fast lane" access to chairlifts.

Fast Tracks pass prices will start at $49 a day per person. The move brought criticism from many Mt. Bachelor regulars, one of whom started a petition urging the resort to scrap it.

Wyden said the new policy raises serious concerns about equitable access to the public lands on which Mt. Bachelor operates under its U.S. Forest Service Special Use permit.

“Snow sports are already expensive enough that equity issues have been persistent, and financially disadvantaged families have long been unfairly priced out of access -- something a Fast Tracks policy is sure to only make worse,” Wyden continued in his letter. “My concerns with this policy...are rooted in the understanding that a two-tiered system of access to public lands based on financial ability is antithetical to equity in the outdoors, leaving those who cannot afford to pay for the pass being literally sent to the back of the line.”

The full letter is here and is shown below:

"I am writing to express concerns about the new Fast Tracks upgrade pass policy that POWDR announced it will implement at Mt. Bachelor and a number of its mountain resorts this year. Mt. Bachelor operates the ski resort on public lands via a U.S. Forest Service Special Use Permit, and as such, the public deserves fair and equitable access to those public lands. Given the serious concerns this policy raises about equitable access to the public lands on which Mt. Bachelor operates, I request that POWDR abandon its plans to adopt this new pass system. At a minimum, POWDR must delay implementation until it adequately explains to the public how the Fast Tracks policy will not exacerbate equity issues that already exist in outdoor recreation.

"Mt. Bachelor’s website describes Fast Tracks as “an all-day upgrade to gain access to our new express lift lanes. It is the best way to maximize your time on the mountain any day you want. Less time waiting, more time skiing/riding.” My concerns with this policy, shared by many long-time Mt. Bachelor guests, are rooted in the understanding that a two-tiered system of access to public lands based on financial ability is antithetical to equity in the outdoors, leaving those who cannot afford to pay for the pass being literally sent to the back of the line. Ultimately, a Fast Tracks policy will ensure more time waiting in liftline bottlenecks and less time skiing or riding for those who cannot afford to pay for an elite, special upgrade.  

"Snow sports are already expensive enough that equity issues have been persistent, and financially disadvantaged families have long been unfairly priced out of access -- something a Fast Tracks policy is sure to only make worse. I continue to advocate for improving access to the outdoors on America’s public lands such as supporting the Outdoors for All Act and championing Kids to Parks Day. While I understand that Mt. Bachelor needs the ability to charge guests for use of its infrastructure in order to create and maintain safe access to the mountain, I firmly believe these fees should not be set higher than necessary nor give preferential access to the wealthy, especially given that the resort operates on public land owned by every American.

"I look forward to your response and to continuing to work with you to improve access to Mt. Bachelor so that all Oregonians, regardless of wealth, status, or privilege, can experience the remarkable natural landscape that Oregon’s public lands have to offer. 

Sincerely,

Ron Wyden

United States Senator"

KTVZ news sources

Comments

64 Comments

      1. We agree on this grickle. I would also like to thank KTVZ for covering this story. Thank you as well, Barney. I believe your coverage of this issue helped get our representative involved.

        For those of you who do not go to Mt. Bachelor, this is not just about having to pay more money to skip the lines. Even if I wanted to pay to do so, and I could, it would be totally against what I believe in. When I am up at Mt. Bachelor we all watch out for each other. We help each other. We are a family. It gives me hope that we can all get along. But when you allow a system whereby people can buy their way to cut in line it destroys that feeling of the family-like feeling we all share up there.

        The fast track program would destroy that family-like feeling and cause a lot of animosities, especially against those visiting. It would likely lead to very angry confrontations and even fights. No one would benefit from that. For the good of the Mt. Bachelor family, the fast track program needs to be scrapped.

        1. You’re welcome. I wonder if senators/officials are getting involved at the other 3 resorts, but perhaps they are not on public land? Story in paper had someone noting the difference between Bachelor and others – tight-knit local ski/boarder community etc.

          1. Help me Barney, I’m tired of paying $15.00 for a six pack of bud, $23.00 for a burger and $7.00 for an ice cream cone at Elk Lake Resort. Please forward my complaint to Ron as I’m sure that he’ll send out a press release chastising ELR. Also add that I’m tired of paying $18.00 for 2 eggs and toast at Cultus lake resort.

          2. Pretty sure the same reason we can’t have reduced-price local passes is the same reason we can’t have fast passes. It’s my understanding FS requires the same pricing for the same ticket but Powdr Corp will argue it’s NOT the same pass as it accesses different services. Yeah, the lawyers will come out ahead on this one…

    1. Hmmm….What’s the big deal? How many are they going to sell in a day 50, 100, 500? Do the math you whiners. There are 12 lifts and 100’s of runs, so the chance of my next run being delayed by more than about 4 seconds seems pretty slim. Let’s say they sell 10,000 during the season, that’s $490,000 in revenue and much of that will be pumped back into facilities. Come on Mount Bachelor whiners, let an extra snap out of your trucker hat, jump in your Subaru and go grab a cold one.

  1. As if……it’s the role of government to construct pricing for a private company. Mr. Wyden, you are a man of better intentions than outcomes I’m afraid.

      1. Good one Middle Way. Made me laugh. Still don’t like what Biden is doing though. I really don’t know which is worse, having to listen to Trump brag on and on, or watch Biden make policies that are causing a lot of problems. We need a Middle Way. Hopefully, someone better will rise up.

      1. Jimmy, I am 100% with you on this, but please do not fall into the politics on this issue. Those who do not ski or ride don’t really care or understand the issue. So cut them some slack. See you on the mountain.

    1. If you want to ski for free at Mt. Bachelor you can. You just have to walk up the Cone. In fact, there are many places where you can ski for free in CO. But once again you have to walk up or skin up. The chairlifts cost a lot of money to construct and operate. Cloudchaser alone cost $6 million to construct which the company operating Mt. Bachelor, Powder Corp. paid. So when I pay for my season pass I am paying my small part of those costs. Now if you want the government to pay to build all the lifts and pay all the operational expenses then I would agree that it should be free to all who want to use it. But that is not reality. My issue with the fast track pass I cover in a previous post. It will destroy the “we are family” attitude on the mountain.

    2. You can if you walk up the hill. We’re paying for the convenience of a lift up the hill and Powdr is charging quite a bit already for that convenience.

      1. and the parking lot, the plowing, the personnel, the buildings, the electricity, the concessions, the teachers, the patrol, and on and on. there are may expenses associated with running the operation. margins are margins and they have to make a profit. charging extra for folks to “fast pass” is fine by me if they want to pay it.

        it’s an expensive sport. wyden must think this is like wanoga snow park or something.

  2. Goes to show that there is nothing else going on in Washington now. Was it Wyden’s idea to have the IRS collect bank info on everyone who has an annual deposit or withdrawal of $600 or more?

  3. Wow, for once I agree with Wyden and I don’t even ski or snowboard. Public land and activities on public land should be for all. Pwdr should quit treating Mt. B as its private property.

    1. Than the Feds should stop taking their money but until they do they should honor the contract. Unless, they are indians, then they can screw us like Brown and her Billioaire Coffee buddy is trying too!

  4. Getting to the bottom of the comments in these flash point news stories, reminds me of following a pet bunny I once had.

    As it hopped around it left a trail of little round pellets of rabbit scat.

  5. Wyden has zero influence on our state. He’s lost everyone’s respect but has a point here. Bachelor ownership is awful, greedy and just keeps getting worse. There is a zero chance I’m buying another pass up there after years. I have a stack of them for both summer and winter. They can **** **.

    1. Yeah, right, “has zero influence on our state” and has “lost everyone’s respect”, but still manages to get elected over and over.

      Thanks for not getting a pass; more room for the rest of us.

  6. So many mistake curmudgeons in this place. This is a good thing and yet do many miserable people just whinning and complaining. Oklahoma will take all you unhappy confederates!

  7. Good grief. Will Ron contact the NBA and request that front row seating be the same price and the high altitude seats that I purchase from time to time. How about lower monthly price at the Athletic Club of Bend as well because I can not afford that. Concert tickets. I should not have to pay more for the front row. On and on and on. Wyden go find a tree to hug!

    1. OMG – so right on ACB – please lower those rates as my kid needs swim lessons and caught a skin disease at the public pool. i need to be a member of ACB, but for about $50/month. seems like i have that right as a human being, plus I am a woman and have been marginalized my entire life. it’s only equitable that I am allowed to join ACB and pay them what I can afford!!!

      #wydenchangeslives!
      #LOL

  8. Wyden, pound sand, you don’t even live here. He if cared at all about equity, he’d close the border so illegal Aliens don’t take jobs away, he’d turn on the oil pumps in the USA to lower fuel costs, thus food costs would be lower for the people he claims to want to help. But of course its all Trump’s fault.

  9. should there be a “free day” once a month or so? six flags has discount days for the poor. i’m sure powdr doesn’t need to pay their employees, so it should work!

    1. I used to mow yards and shovel driveways on the military bases where I lived as a kid in order to buy season passes and new skis. Sometimes my dad would match me. I can tell you that having wealthier adults be able to get on a lift sooner or cut in line with some express lane would have soured me on that experience in a hurry. Is Powder Corporation in such bad financial straits that it has to implement this to be able to pay its staff?

      1. all my life the wealthy have cut in front.
        made me work harder.
        my post was sarcasm, BTW.
        i believe in hard work and paying our own way. TSA pre-check and this bother me greatly. but it’s likely Powdr taking a page from the Disney playbook with their fast-pass approach.
        same concept – a family could be waiting in line in 100+ degree heat for 45 minutes and have another family cut right in front of them who hasn’t waited a minute.
        what we’re seeing unfold with “equity” and “fairness” is just an acting out of jealousy of the have-not’s. and I’m a mostly have-not. but i see it for what it is.
        i don’t get jealous and hateful, but others do and them “demand justice and equity”, as if we’re all the same.
        such an interesting time in our lives sociologically.

  10. A lot of non skiers here commenting on something they don’t really know anything about. Skiing has been a big part of Bend for 60 years. Although it never has been a cheap sport it used to be cheap enough that a middle class family could afford it. I grew up in the Rocky Mountain states and it was always a family deal and had zero to do with what political party you would be willing to die for.
    The the ostentatious level of wealth inequality in Bend has gotten really bad in the last few years this Fast Tracks program is like throwing salt in a wound. Powder Corp clearly cares about only one thing and that is money. There used to be a time when the word corporation had an evil connotation. When I wrote info@mtbachelor.com requesting my money back for not being made aware of this before I bought a pass, here is the award winning corporate AI response I got “Thank you for reaching out regarding our new Fast Tracks product. We strive to create the best ski experience possible for all guests and provide upgradeable experiences for those looking to enhance their day.” Fast Tracks is not a win win deal. They are reducing my opportunity to make powder turns on new snow days and selling it to someone else willing to pay more. Without prior notice of the program being implemented its theft. So for all you non skiers lets say you signed up for cable TV for x dollars a month and the very next month they said you had to pay extra each time you watched a football game. The cost would be about a case of beer and several bags of chips. Hey its a capitalist country like it or leave it right?

    1. ummm – your cable TV example happens at least once every 6 months.
      what i love about your post is all of your assumptions. the judgement of others and negativity you display are part of the issue of the ski culture in bend.
      there’s always someone who’ll pay more to get more.
      that’s capitalism.
      if you want socialism, everyone can ski but on a schedule that you might not like even less.
      your comparison to TV, then saying football, chips, beer – assuming those that aren’t like you are wastes who chug beer and eat chips.
      jesus – what’s wrong with you?

  11. Skiers for Wyden. Please send all campaign contributions to Wyden for Senate, C/O Strand Bookstore, New York, NY. Remember a couple (2 skiers) can deduct $100 on their Oregon Tax Return.

  12. ” I continue to advocate for improving access to the outdoors on America’s public lands ”

    Yeah right…I don’t remember reading about you complaining about the never ending increasing cost of fishing and hunting tags, licenses, and the increased regulations and restrictions.
    Also don’t remember you complaining about the increasing cost of structured camp sites, for those that choose to stay at those facilities. Seems a little selective, but that’s not
    a big surprise…
    camp sites.

  13. Oh yes great. And while hes pandering I like to ask him to please do away with the VIP section at Les Schwab Amphitheatre. And please Mr Wyden get rid of the higher price for the 50 yd line covered seats at Reser Stadium. No one should have to pay more for those!! No one should be able to pay more for special privileges. Lol. None of us will be able to do anything soon anyway due his administration pushing inflation so hard.

    1. correct! the VIP section at the Amphitheatre is a joke – empty most of the time! and when they are full, i have to ask why anyone would opt to purchase a ticket there. seems stupid. but it’s a choice and i don’t have any mis-givings to those who choose to purchase those tickets.

  14. Wyden like all in DC won’t stop the run away dimentia Joe machine destroying America. They don’t have mandates about covid give a damn about inflation the border and are worried about some item way back in Oregon. They are all mouth pieces with crap coming out and no care for the people who built America. But a lot of photo ops for the illegals. Biden may have low numbers but Congress is minus in the red.

  15. Lots of comments on this article. At least we have a subject that seems to have split the political divide with R and Ds on both sides of the issue. On the petition site, not one local out of over 7,000 people was for the fast track idea. Not one. So Mt. Bachelor should really think about what message you are sending to the season pass holders who are and have been your loyal customers for years. As you can see this policy did not go over well with them. They were able to very quickly band to together in a way that you have to pay attention. Now think if all those loyal customers suddenly decided to never eat at your food concessions or buy anything from your shops? I know I spend over $1000 per year up there on those things as I have grandkids who often go with me. Now calculate how much money Mt. Bachelor will lose if all your season pass holders just stop buying your food and accessories because you have ignored what they would like? I highly doubt that Mt. Bachelor will come out ahead on that one. That will be the free market at work and Mt. Bachelor will lose. This is a really poorly thought out idea that is obviously alienating your loyal customer base and it is going to therefore cost you money in the end if it is implemented.

  16. Jeff Bezos’s net worth is enough to buy every single lift ticket every single day at Bachelor for over 7000 years while keeping the mountain in full operation.

    Kinda makes you wonder, in this era of $500 million yachts, how long until the ultra-rich start snapping up personal ski resorts.

    ($500 million buys you a private Mt. Bachelor for 19 years.)

    1. Yellowstone Club in Montana. Next to Big Sky. The wealthy already have them. No lift lines. I am happy for them and I wish I could afford it. The plan at Mt. B is an entirely different issue though. If the wealthy have their own private resorts that means that they won’t be making the lift lines at Bachelor longer for us regular customers. When the wealthy get wealthier it is proven that the regular folk’s income also increases. With wealth comes the money to invest and put up chairlifts that cost $6 million like Cloudchaser cost. Since people had the money to invest in that lift, those who ski/ride at Mt. Bachelor benefit from the fact that a wealthy corporation had the money to invest in that lift. Without the wealthy to invest in such things we would have far fewer ski areas etc. I am not wealthy, but I know people who are. It is often not something to be envyed. Plus remember that if Bezos buys a $500 million yacht, that yacht does not come out of thin air. A lot of people work to build that yacht and use that money to improve their lives and their children’s lives. Also remember that Bezos owns the left leaning Washington Post which constantly went after Trump. Still does. There is wealth on the left and on the right. The political division is what is hurting us all.

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