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Epic Race

November 12th, 2013

A few weeks ago, I was at Luke’s house when his roommate mentioned a contest: be one of the first to visit all of the ski resorts covered by the Epic Pass this season, and win an Epic Pass for life. I was intrigued.

I mentioned the idea to Tyler to see if he’d be interested in making it happen. We both are fortunate to have flexible schedules, so it seemed at least plausible that we could make a run for the prize. We’d already embarked on a race to be first in line to opening day 2012-13 (and lost), so how much harder could the Epic Race be?

Epic Race: Ski 26 resorts first, get a ski pass for life

We fired up some web browsers to work out the logistics.

The full Epic Pass covered 26 ski resorts spread among 4 countries, including 5 states in the US. We would need to visit each resort, but no earlier than November 22, and no more than one resort per day (in the US), nor more than two per day abroad. Since 12 of the resorts are in the US, with the remaining 14 in Europe, that meant an absolute minimum of 19 days of skiing.

Skiing with friends at A-Basin, one of the Epic Race locations, in May 2013

Further complicating the matter was that not all of the resorts open at the same time. Some had been open since October, others wouldn’t open until mid-December. Not all of the resorts had published opening dates, but history, recent weather patterns, and the resorts’ web sites suggested that openings would be, and I quote, “SOON!”

Here’s how it broke down:

Resort Opening date Location
Vail 11/22/2013 Colorado
Beaver Creek 11/27/2013 Colorado
Breckenridge Open Colorado
Keystone Open Colorado
A-Basin Open Colorado
Eldora 11/22/2013 Colorado
Canyons 11/29/2013 Utah
Heavenly 11/22/2013 California
Northstar 11/22/2013 California
Kirkwood 11/22/2013 California
Afton Alps Soon! Minnesota
Mt. Brighton Soon! Michigan
Verbier 11/30/2013 Switzerland
St Anton 12/6/2013 Austria
Lech 12/6/2013 Austria
Zurs 12/6/2013 Austria
St. Christoph 12/6/2013 Austria
Stuben 12/6/2013 Austria
Courchevel 11/23/2013 France
La Tania 11/23/2013 France
Meribel 11/23/2013 France
Brides-les-Bains 11/23/2013 France
Les Menuires 11/23/2013 France
Saint Martin de BelleVille 11/23/2013 France
Val Thorens 11/23/2013 France
Orelle 11/23/2013 France

Add in a few days for travel, and the minimum time quickly swelled to about three and a half weeks. In order to maximize the odds of winning, the final resort visits needed to be on the first day those resorts were open, which implied that the trek really needed to start as soon as possible. That meant starting on November 22 and doing nothing except skiing and traveling for the better part of a month.

That’s just the cost in time. The cost in terms of money was even more onerous.  Being that we lived in Denver and knew people around Minneapolis, Detroit, and Salt Lake City, we figured we could get away with paying for lodging and transportation just in the Tahoe region and Europe. Still, the cost for flights, hotels/hostels, and cars looked significant. That didn’t even cover the opportunity cost.

We had jobs that could be done remotely from anywhere in the world. We were fortunate in that regard. Unfortunately, the burden of travel meant that only a portion of our usual work output would be likely to get done for the month on the road. Thus, the need to factor in some lost wages.

Here’s a quick accounting of the cost per person, assuming two people went and split relevant expenses:

Item Cost
Flight to/from Europe 1200
Flight to/from Reno (for Tahoe) 200
Flight to/from Minneapolis 200
Flight to/from Detroit 200
Flight to/from Salt Lake City 150
Hostel for 9 nights in Europe 450
Hotel for 3 nights in Tahoe 225
Car for Tahoe, inc. gas 80
Car for Europe, inc. gas 500
Ski rentals everywhere (cheaper than paying to bag-check skis) 400
Lost income 10000
Total $13,605

…or whatever my actual income was 🙂

And what would we win if we were to accomplish the task first? An Epic Pass every year for the remainder of our lives. With a nominal value of $729 per year, and perhaps 30 years of skiing left, that was a value in nominal dollars of about $22,000. But wait! We’d owe taxes on that, so a better approximation of the value was be more like $13,000.

The expected value got even lower after factoring in the possibility of not being one of the first 10 finishers (thus winning nothing) or considering the potential future value of the money applied towards the expenses.

It would have been a fun trip, and no doubt it would have served as great fodder for stories, but the cost in time and money was too high for the potential payoff.


  1. November 25th, 2013 at 00:20 | #1

    Nice post. I’ve run all the numbers also and I’m going to try to do the trip for around $2k out of pocket. I’ve got a partner splitting the costs who works remote and I took some time off from my job while also working remotely. I’m going to break down my costs at http://www.epicskiandride.com. Hitting Eldora tomorrow.

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