The 441 Swiss franc six day pass - which Expedia.co.uk's travel currency converter currently (May 7, 2011) calculates as equalling £304.43 is the price for a ticket that gives access to around 1,000km of piste in Zermatt, Cervinia and other ski area's in Italy Aosta Valley.


Cheaper passes are available for Zermatt and Cervinia only (423 Swiss Francs/£292 pounds), or Zermatt only (371 Swiss Francs/£256).


The Zermatt/Cervinia passes became Europe's most expensive three seasons ago during the financial turmoil of the world economic meltdown. Prior to that the most expansive ticket was the Mont Blanc Unlimited regional pass which covers around 1,000km of piste around Chamonix, Courmayeur and with Verbier now included.


For families with children aged under 10 the Mont Blanc Unlimited pass remains the most expensive in Europe as children aged four and older were asked to pay 205.6 Euros (£182.87) child price while under 10s are free on the Cervinia - Zermatt pass. Older skiers and boarders aged up to 16 in Zermatt pay half price.


The adult (over 15) price for the Mont Blanc Unlimited Pass last year was 257 Euros (£229).


However skiers staying in resorts covered by the Mont Blanc Unlimited ticket can, as in Zermatt, but cheaper passes for smaller areas and some of these also have further family discounts available when families buy the same type of ticket for the same duration at the same time.


The Zermatt/Cervinia Pass remains cheaper than the most expensive North American passes which can cost up to around $570 (about £341) for a six day pass however the gap has never been closer and for a large swathe of the season adult skiers and boarders are likely to pay more for the Zermatt/Aosta ticket than for any other pass in the world.
That is because the $570 pass in the US is only charged at peak periods (New Year week) when skiers buy the pass in resort from a ticket office. In reality these days the vast majority of skiers in US destination resorts buy in advance online or get their passes as part of a package deal with accommodation so the highest price is most useful so that skiers and boarders can ‘see how much they've saved' on that figure.
By contrast the Zermatt/Aosta price is a fixed charge from late November 2011 to 1st May 2012 and is not discounted during the low season when open terrain may be limited or for online purchase.
The Zermatt/Aosta pass does however buy you the use of some of Europe's most impressive lifts, rising to the continent's highest lift-served point and the resorts are planning to install cable cars on several new routes by 2015.