When Vail created the Buddy Pass in the 1990s, it started a pass war among ski areas catering to Colorado-based day skiers. This year, Vail announced the Epic Pass, a dirt cheap season pass for all Vail mountains available to anyone, whether they live in Colorado or not. The move is expected to significantly increase skier numbers at Vail. The Epic has the potential to start a pass war with traditional destination mountains such as Aspen Ski Company, according to this Aspen Times story. The article suggests there's some hand-wringing over Vail's move to grab out-of-staters. Will we see prices at Aspen drop? Will Vail's move ripple through the industry like the Buddy Pass did?
Maybe, maybe not. Cheap season passes have their own pitfalls. They make it tough to get on-mountain employees, because the incentive for a free season pass isn't as sweet when a pass costs $500 instead of $1,400.