Vail Resorts change Epic Australia Pass reservations due to lack of snow

hotham piste
Hotham Alpine Resort in July, 2019. Photo credit: Hotham

You’ve got to wonder if Mercury is still in retrograde, right? Because the 2020 Australian ski season in a pandemic has more plot twists than snow flakes so far. 

Combine the lack of accessible terrain thanks to little snow making due to Covid in May, and a lack of big snowfalls in July, with the need to keep social distanced numbers and there’s no way the resorts can safely maintain their Covid Safe Operating plan numbers in the next two weeks. Not without seriously monitoring and restricting skier numbers.

As a result Vail Resorts Australia today announced more Epic Pass, Epic Australia Pass and Military Pass changes to the 2020 ski season down under. 

While pass holders were originally offered reserved skiing days from June 24 and unlimited skiing at Perisher, Hotham and Falls Creek from July 13, when the company announced their Covid Safe operating plans for 2020, this has now changed in line with the original fine print. 

You can blame Ullr. If you can find him. 

Change to pass holder reservations

Today pass holders have been informed that they will require pre reserved calendar days for July 13 to 19 for all three Vail Resorts Australia ski areas. This will most likely remain the case until the resorts have sufficient lifts and trains open to ensure physical distancing for unreserved access during peak periods.

Disappointed pass holders had already been experiencing reservation difficulty with staged ticket releases due to high demand constantly crashing ticket sites, and then some folks missing out due to email comms breakdowns for ticket release dates and times. 

Clearly everyone wants to go skiing. Except Ullr. 

However, despite today’s announcement, do keep an eye on day pass releases for Epic Australia Pass holders as Perisher opened more lifts today and therefore were able to release more tickets for July 6 to 10. 

However Vail Resorts has reminded guests that reservation availability is not guaranteed as the resorts are operating at around 50% of normal capacity constraints and limited snow cover. 

Pass holder reservations will also be required for weekend access until further notice this season. 

“It’s been a very challenging start to the 2020 snow season. Very low snowfalls and limited opportunities for snowmaking have resulted in the lowest number of lifts operating in our resorts at the start of July in over 20 years” says Pete Brulisauer, senior vice president and chief operating officer, Australia and Perisher.

“We previously announced that reservations would be required for pass holders from opening day until 12 July, or as soon as weather and available terrain and lifts permitted. Unfortunately, due to the poor snow conditions, we need to keep the reservations system in place during peak periods until we can open more lifts and facilities to provide physical distancing and satisfy expectations for COVID safe operations.”

When to book

Pass holder reservations for the period 13 to 19 July will occur from 7 to 9 July 2020 and pass holders will be informed when reservations will open for the following weekends.

Guests with a 2019-20 Epic Pass or 2019-20 Epic Military Pass will also be required to make reservations to access the resorts during these peak periods.

New refund deadline date

Vail Resorts Australia have also extended the refund deadline date for Epic Australia Passes to July 12. Guests who purchased a 2020 Epic Australia Pass, who have not used the pass, and do not wish to proceed with their pass purchase, may obtain a refund no later than Sunday 12 July. 

Hotham and Falls Creek to open tomorrow

Victoria’s resorts delayed opening twice and now, thanks to recent snowfalls Hotham and Falls Creek will open their mountain operations on Monday 6 July. Hotham will open with six lifts including Road Runner, Big D, Audi Quattro, Summit and Summit Trainer. Falls Creek will open seven lifts including Halley’s Comet, Drovers Dream and Towers.

If you want to stay up to date with the constant changes for resort ticketing in Australia, join our Australia Facebook Group where skiers and boarders share experience, intel and hacks to help your snow dreams come true in 2020.

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Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.