PARK CITY, Utah (KTVZ) -- With Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., joining critics in calling on Powdr Corp. to drop plans for a 'Fast Tracks' quick-access pass at Mt. Bachelor, the company issued a letter Friday defending the program and offering refunds to any season pass-holders who disagree with the move.
The recent Fast Tracks announcement sparked controversy and even a petition to drop the move, followed by Wyden's letter to Powder Corp.'s founder, John Cumming, saying the move raises equity issues at Bachelor, which leases Forest Service land, and calling for an end to the plans.
In a "letter to the community" posted on its website, Powder Co-Presidents Wade Martin and Justin Sibley noted that a similar concept has been used at its Copper Mountain, Colorado resort for nearly 20 years and refined over time, with only 2% of visitors making use of it. They also pointed to numerous programs giving free access to its resorts, including Mt. Bachelor, and various partnerships with the community.
Here's the full letter from top Powdr Corp. officials:
A Letter to the Community Regarding Fast Tracks
We understand how passionate you are about the mountains. Doing the things you love with the people you love is definitely a shared mission.
We also understand that change can be concerning. Our intent as stewards of the mountains is to be thoughtful and considerate. We believe there is nothing better for our communities than providing a balanced life full of adventure. To make this happen, POWDR is committed to doing all we can to protect our environment and enable participation for all.
Our recently announced Fast Tracks product, which enables upgradeable express lift access at four of our mountain resorts, has generated some questions and confusion, especially among the Mt. Bachelor community. As a result, we would like to clarify how this product works and what it means for our community and reiterate our commitment to mountain access for all.
The Fast Tracks concept has been in operation at our Copper Mountain, Colorado, resort for almost 20 years. First introduced in January of 2002 for lodging guests only, the offer was made widely available to anyone skiing the following season, in February 2003. Since that time, it has gone through a number of variations and optimizations informed through guest feedback. Product and experiential enhancements were successfully implemented at Copper Mountain and the concept was expanded to other resorts and reintroduced as Fast Tracks.
What we have learned through our recent experience with the product at Copper Mountain is that it is utilized by less than 2% of total daily skiers due in large part to our careful calibration and limiting access to ensure a quality experience for all guests. The product is additionally managed with lift loading protocols, which provide for rotation between traditional, Ski School and Fast Track lines. As a result, the impact on lift line wait times across our mountains is negligible.
Fast Tracks does not affect general access to our resorts, as it is an add-on product to a day lift ticket or season pass. Fast Tracks access is no different than the access offered through ski school, private lessons and guided mountain tours in that they all provide a finite number of fast lane experiences. These experiences are made available to every member of the public, at the same price, with the same benefits.
To this last point, as stewards of amazing mountain resort experiences on some of our nation’s most beautiful public lands, we believe we have a responsibility to create opportunities for everyone to access and enjoy the adventure lifestyle. As part of our Play Forever commitment, we are working to build a more inclusive community through our partnerships with the Burton Chill Foundation, SOS Outreach, Special Olympics, Boys and Girls Clubs and local parks & rec and school learn to ski programs. We also enable access by providing resources through the High Fives Foundation and local organizations such as Wasatch Adaptive Sports, Vermont Adaptive, Adaptive Action Sports and Oregon Adaptive Sports.
Furthermore, we provide free public access to resort amenities located on private and public land. For example, Snowbird provides access to adjacent U.S. Forest Service lands through permanently open gates at the bottom of Mineral Basin as well as Baby Thunder and has a controlled gate to access public lands via the White Pine and American Fork Twin Peaks when avalanche conditions permit. In addition, Mt. Bachelor’s Woodward Start Park and Early Riser Lift are free and available for the public to enjoy all season long as is alpine touring in specific controlled areas and access to adjacent forest and wilderness areas for Alpine Touring and Snowshoeing.
We do not believe that providing access to the public lands on which our resorts operate and offering customizable experiences for our guests are mutually exclusive. We remain highly confident based on our experience with similar products that Fast Tracks will be a valuable product for those that wish to participate and it will not compromise the experience of other guests. Nevertheless, if any guest would like a season pass refund before the season starts as a result of our Fast Tracks product, we will honor that request.
We remain committed to fostering lasting relationships with our communities and enabling the adventure lifestyle for generations to come.
Wade Martin & Justin Sibley