As snow issues close some British Columbia ski hills, season pass holders are reading the fine print on their tickets, while resorts are saying little, if anything, about refunds.
Nick Chen and his family spent about $3,000 on passes and lessons at Grouse Mountain, but they’ve only skied twice this season.
“I know the weather is out of the mountain’s control, but there needs to be some compensation,” he said.
While Grouse has been open for more than the two days he skied, Chen isn’t interested in skiing when conditions are bad.
“It feels like a scam,” he said.
Grouse is one of the few mountains that offers pass protection, but the mountain’s website clearly states that if protection is declined, “no refund or transfer of the season pass will be offered under any circumstances.” For those who purchase the $49 plan ($99 for a family), rebates are only issued for debilitating injuries or illnesses, or for job relocation.
Refunds are not issued for environmental reasons, including climate, the website says.
Grouse Ski Area was closed Friday, along with several other local mountains.
Mt. Seymour’s website said its drop area was closed until there was “enough snow to reopen,” with no word on when that might be.
Cypress Mountain’s website said its drop-off area would remain closed Saturday and Sunday. “Our team is working hard to rebuild the ski slopes and our state-of-the-art snowmaking system is in place and ready to go when temperatures drop next week.”
No one answered the phone at Sasquatch Mountain Resort in Hemlock Valley on Friday, and a message said the resort would be closed “until conditions improve.”
The coastal mountains had been battling poor snow conditions even before a series of atmospheric rivers brought rain and warm temperatures last week, melting snowpack during a mild winter. Some ski slopes, such as Manning Park outside Hope, Mt. Washington on Vancouver Island and Mt. Baker in Washington state, were open Friday, but with limited terrain.
“The sun is supposed to be out, colder temperatures are on the horizon, and we’re hopeful that Mother Nature will cooperate with the rest of our winter season,” read a cheery message on Mt. Washington’s website. “We greatly appreciate your patience and understanding as it takes our team some time to put Humpty Dumpty back together.”
WhistlerBlackcomb warned skiers about possible lift delays as ski patrols worked to mitigate the high risk of avalanches in the alpine zone. The green runs at the bottom of both mountains were damaged by rain, forcing beginners to head down to the village instead of skiing.
“It has been a challenging week,” spokesman Nicholas Voutour said in a statement. But he was optimistic about cooler temperatures and two inches of new snow overnight in the middle of the mountain.
“Looking ahead to the weekend, a colder spot on Saturday night will facilitate snow production up to 1,000 meters in altitude. Sunday will bring clear skies and during the day the freezing level will rise again to 1,200 meters,” he said. “This optimal weather window will allow us to repair some areas that were affected by last week’s rain.”
Voutour said there is still “a lot of season left” and that a couple of good snowfalls will get things back to normal.
That could be one reason smaller mountains haven’t been quick to assure passholders that they will be compensated for a bad season, even as many people take to social media to ask for refunds. With at least a month left in the peak season, the mountains may be able to reopen and offer customers more days of skiing.
In 2005, another terrible snow year, some mountains like Seymour gave passholders a big discount on the following year’s pass, while Mt. Washington, which was only open 32 days, made passes valid for another year. season. Other mountains only offered a few dollars off renewals. During the pandemic, when the ski season was shortened, postponements were more common.
Alan Mijinke, who spent about $5,000 on six season passes for his family at Sasquatch, said he had experienced bad snow in the past in years as a season pass holder on several B.C. mountains.
“I’m understanding,” he said. “But I’m waiting for something. If they don’t, we probably won’t be back. “It’s kind of an unwritten rule that there should be some compensation.”
As skiers have several options within an hour or two of Metro Vancouver, most ski hills appear to be making an effort to keep their pass holders informed about snowmaking operations and when they might return to the slopes. .
But Nikola Vujicic, who spent nearly $2,000 on four season passes for his family at Sasquatch, said the mountain has not responded to customers’ questions about refunds.
“We just need to know what the plan is.” he said.
Scott Barber, who also has a Sasquatch season pass, said conditions have been difficult all season, with very little snow.
Ryan Goodrich said he’s not sure the situation will improve in February unless there are a series of big snowstorms, which he considers unlikely.
Sasquatch offers a 60-day ski season guarantee, according to its website, but passholders must purchase the refundable pass option. For each day the mountain is not in operation for 60 days, pass holders will receive a one percent credit that will be applied to the following year’s pass.
Goodrich said he paid $2,200 a year for his family.
“We will get passes again. Whether it’s Sasquatch or not is a different story.”
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