There’s an “under-the-radar” ski pass out there you may have missed in the monster promotion battle of the Epic, Ikon, and other better-known pass products.
It’s well worth another (or first) look and it’s called the Cooper Pass and it’s not just Cooper. It’s Cooper plus 53 other ski areas.
What’s a “Cooper?” It’s Cooper Mt., one of the oldest, most authentic ski areas in Colorado and among the oldest in the nation. It opened in 1942 and served as the training site for the famed 10th Mountain Division, the ski-troopers based at close by Camp Hale during World War II. Think near Leadville (remember the Unsinkable Molly Brown?). It’s 10 miles away on Tennessee Pass.
Cooper is no slouch of a mountain, even as it’s off the beaten mega-resort path. Its 64 trails, are spread over 480 lift-served acres and are serviced by five lifts. The top elevation is a “breathtaking” 11,700 feet, while it all starts at 10,500 feet. Snowmaking by man, shall we say, is hardly necessary. The mountain averages 260 inches of soft stuff each year. Lift lines? Nope. Glitz and glamour? Nope. There’s also a snowcat operation on Chicago Ridge with 2,600 acres of powder.
What does it cost?
So, if this is your cup of snow and you live within a few hours, the season pass at Ski Cooper alone is a deal at $299 ($149 for kids 6-14). Returning pass holders get a break. Starting with unlimited skiing at Cooper. That means you can ski or ride here any day the mountain is open.
But you don’t ever have to set ski on Cooper to make buying this pass a bargain and a half. The marketers at this classic ski area, figuratively one long snowball’s throw from glitzy Vail, have pulled off reciprocal use of its pass at 53 member ski areas all across the USA and even one in Spain.
Are you a happy wanderer?
Do the math. If you are among the ski wandering tribe, this simple-to-use pass is totally uncomplicated. You can use it for three days at each member ski area. There are some blackout days.
This pass compares favorably with the Indy Pass: the same type of ski areas (relatively small and laid back), but while the Indy Pass has roughly 80 areas, you can only ski them twice. The Cooper Pass has a bit over half that number, but you can ski each one for three days.
If all this adds up to your kind of skiing and riding fun, don’t go for the Big Boy passes at first blush, because there might be a Cooper in your future.
Here are the partners:
Along with unlimited skiing at Cooper, the Cooper Pass allows you to ski 3 free days at each of these partner resorts (4 days at Diamond Peak);
Rocky Mountains: Colorado — Ski Cooper (unlimited); Loveland, Sunlight, Powderhorn, Monarch Mountain. Utah – Powder Mountain, Eagle Point, Cherry Peak. Montana – Great Divide. Wyoming – Snow King, Snow Ridge. Idaho – Pebble Creek, Soldier Mountain, Bogus Basin, Brundage. New Mexico – Red River, Ski Apache, Angel Fire.
Midwest: Iowa – Seven Oaks. Minnesota – Buck Hill, Mont de Lac. Wisconsin – The Rock Snowpark, Little Switzerland, Nordic Mountain. Michigan – Crystal Mountain, Pine Mountain, Black River Basin, Jackson Creek Summit, Powderhorn, Marquette Mountain, Mt. Ripley.
East: Pennsylvania – Seven Springs, Hidden Valley, Laurel Mountain, Tussey Mountain. New York: Plattekill, Hidden Valley, Greek Peak. New Hampshire – Whaleback, Black Mt., Dartmouth Skiway, McIntyre. Maine – Lost Valley. Rhode Island – Yawgoo Valley.
International: Spain – Masella.