Dear Loveland Ski Area:

A few months ago, I walked into your season pass office and filled out a form to get an Uphill Access Pass. You charged me $0 for it, didn’t require that I also purchase a season pass—just gave me a little red card to wear on my sleeve when I skied uphill.

This little thing, on the surface, probably didn’t promise to make you any money. Letting people ski uphill for free, during the hours lifts are running? Hell, the little cards probably cost you a dollar apiece to make, or more. Is that a bad business idea? Theoretically, I could have skinned up to the top and ridden the upper lifts, where no one scans lift tickets, for a half a day. (I never did, just for the record.)

I went years without skiing more than a couple days in Colorado, turned off by the traffic (both the cars on I-70 and people in lift lines) every weekend. This year, however, my girlfriend decided to learn to ski, so I bought us a couple 4-packs to Loveland Ski Area—a place I’d always driven past on my way up to Summit County. I figured four days would be enough for her to get proficient on skis, and maybe we’d buy a couple more single-day lift tickets if we decided we were having a lot of fun.

Then I found out about your uphill skiing policy: Sure, come on up, skin up one of two routes, ski down, do it all day if you want to, as long as you have the appropriate free pass for it. All winter, my girlfriend and I ticked off more than a dozen in-bounds uphill days, showing up an hour before the lifts opened, skinning up without having to turn on avalanche beacons, skiing down, checking our e-mail from the base lodge, and then driving back down to Denver to start our work day. We were spoiled with all those early-morning mountain views, legs and lungs burning at 11,000-something feet, and all we paid for it was a few calories burned. So thanks for that.

And then we found the breakfast burritos. Instead of skating away without giving you so much as a dollar every time we skinned up and skied down the groomers, I convinced my girlfriend that we should head inside and buy a couple breakfast burritos and a couple coffees. It’s the least we can do to thank Loveland for the free access, I would say, plus let me remind you that burritos are awesome. So I guess you did make a little money off us.

I had a good skiing year, probably the most fun I’ve had since I was 12 years old and learning to ski in Colorado, thanks to you deciding that there was no harm in letting a few people ski uphill at your resort.

Thank you for not expanding, thank you for not charging me $12 to park on some days and $15 to park on other days, thank you for posting very clear rules about skinning uphill on your website instead of some bullshit confusing language, thank you for putting skiing and fun first and profits second, something that is sorely missing from the ski industry in a lot of places. Thanks for recognizing that skiing should be about making turns, not about buying fur hats and eating fondue and building $3 million dollar houses nearby that sit vacant 50 weeks of the year.

Sorry it took me so long to see the light and come check out your place. I’ll be back next year, and I promise to keep buying those breakfast burritos if you keep letting me ski uphill.

-Brendan

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16 Comments

  • How refreshing is that!? Love hearing about places that are about the experience and not the scratch. Also, a tip of the cap for purchasing the burrito and coffee breakfasts. Loveland deserves to have some cash exchange hands for their service. Great stuff, Brendan.

  • “I figured four days would be enough for her to get proficient on skis…” Gad! Who is this wonder woman? It took me years! Great article as always…

  • Such a great post about a great ski area. I’ve always loved Loveland. Compare this to Eldora where I got charged for a full lift ticket after skiing down from Jenny Creek Trail (National Forest Service land). I was threatened with arrest and told I couldn’t park in their lot as I was trespassing. Loveland gets it. I’ll never spend another dime at Eldora.

    • Parts of the runs on Eldora are on private land including the parking lot. So technically if you weren’t playing by their rules (being a paying customer) then they’re well within their rights to charge you.

  • He’ll yes to this. I’ve been uphill skiing all winter at Loveland and it has been glorious. It’s great to be able to go skiing somewhere that feels like mountain not a mall.

  • Aaaaaaand forwarding this to our executive team here at Sierra-at-Tahoe. We’re crafting our uphill policy right now and this is what it’s all about.

  • Agreed w/ both coolness of resorts that allow this (shout out to Steamboat as well which I’ve used this year) and the idea of giving back via buying food, the occassional ticket and NOT abusing it (and risking ongoing policy) by jumping on mid-mountain lifts. Will def be factoring in this kimd of policy when choosing actual lift tix in the future. Also, shocked by the Eldora comment: While I have RMSP this year and have crosses Eldora a couple times to get to Jenny Creek trail, pretty sure they have to permit backcountry traffic across wo charge.

  • Loveland is the best ski hill within striking distance of the Denver metro area. It’s hard to believe that millions of people drive right through it each month without even thinking twice about what they’re missing. Amen to the free parking, local staff, mellow vibe and great terrain!

  • I hope you started her on the hardest terrain in front of all of your friends in her brand new gear!

  • I really enjoyed reading this my friend. This is why I love this ski area (not ski resort.). You nailed it. Thank you.

  • Amen… Loveland is a family originated ski area without the resort. Parking is free and close to the lifts. I ? Loveland

  • Also the situation at Arapahoe Basin. I’ve seen many taking advantage of their free uphill access policy before, during and after hours. Good on em, I’ve only skinned up to mid-mountain once and was WORKIN’! ;o)

  • B.
    Thank you for mentioning this. I work at a resort in Utah and have been working hard for an uphill policy and it has taken a long time for it to get approved. Part of the struggle has been demonstrating there is a strong desire by a responsible user group to have a healthy place to go. You put my argument into (as usual), what WE are all thinking. I’m sending this post to my contact and have been trying to get you more readers.

    Thanks and keep up the good fight! Congrats on earning your turns as well!

  • Yea…you shouldn’t be thanking a private business for allowing you to access YOUR public lands.

    Loveland could thank America; that would be chill.

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