The Ikon Pass, one of the two big American season passes, has added Zermatt to its offer for the 2019-20 ski season, taking the tally of mostly top-level ski resorts around the world included on its season pass to 41.

The pass, offered by the Alterra ski resorts group in North America, competes with Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass, with both offering access to the dozen or so ski areas they own or operate in Canada and the US, plus more limited access to partner ski areas in Europe, Asia, South America and Australia.

Ikon Pass holders will have seven-day access to Zermatt and the Matterhorn ski paradise network on the season ticket with no blackout dates, and five-day access on the Ikon Base Pass, also with no blackout dates.

Epic Pass holders get Verbier and the 4 Valleys included as the Swiss option on their pass.

“Zermatt and Matterhorn ski paradise is pleased to be the first European destination on the Ikon Pass, and we look forward to offering our best Swiss quality and Italian lifestyle to Ikon Pass holders everywhere. We are excited to share our passion and devotion to skiing within the Ikon Pass community and its impressive destination partners across the globe,” said Sandra Zenhäusern, Director of Marketing, Zermatt Bergbahnen AG.

The prices of the two passes vary a little like airline tickets depending on the version you buy, where you buy it and when you buy it (generally more expensive closer to the start of the season), but they tend to cost in the range of $700 to $900 US dollars.

The two passes, and several other competitors, have increasingly dominated the way ski tickets are bought in North America and are gaining ground elsewhere too. There are no official stats published on sales but Vail Resorts are reputed to sell more than a million epic passes ahead of the season in over 100 countries, banking large amounts of money before the season begins, and regardless of what kind of winter it turns out to be at any one resort.

The Ikon Pass now covers 84,385 skiable acres, 4,857 trails and 719 lifts with resorts including Aspen, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (above), Arapahoe Basin (switching this year from the Epic Pass), Alta Ski Area (still no snowboarders allowed!), Snowbird, Banff and Lake Louise, Revelstoke, Taos and Sugarbush.  In Australia there’s Thredbo and Mt Buller; in Japan Niseko, in Chile Valle Nevado and Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Mt Hutt in New Zealand.

Resorts on the Epic Pass include Whistler Blackcomb, Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Crested Butte, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Stowe, Okemo, Mount Sunapee, Stevens Pass, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton, and Wilmot in North America. The Epic Pass also includes access to Vail-owned Perisher, Falls Creek, and Hotham in Australia and limited access to partner resorts, including seven days at each of Telluride, Sun Valley, Snowbasin, and the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies; five consecutive days at Hakuba Valley and at Rusutsu Resort in Japan and also limited access to Les 3 Vallées in France; 4 Vallées in Switzerland; and Skirama Dolomiti in Italy.

The two groups are also doing battle on length of season they offer with both aiming to open ski areas included in their passes in early October and to stay open to June/July the following spring/summer for 8-9 months inclusion on the pass for the one advance purchase price. Zermatt is of course one of two resorts worldwide, with Hintertux in Austria, open for skiing and boarding year round.