No snow and more dough mark disappointing ski season

As if the $15 poutine at the chalet wasn’t bad enough, poor snow conditions and high demand have marred this year’s ski season at popular Canadian slopes.

Driving the news: Some of Canada’s biggest ski destinations are experiencing historically low levels of snowfall, getting anywhere from half to just over a quarter of the snowfall they typically see this time of year, per the CBC.

  • At the same time, people are desperate for some fresh pow, with long lines reported at popular resorts like Whistler despite lift tickets that can cost up to $299 per day.

Why it matters: Once a relatively accessible winter activity, industry consolidation, rising demand, and warmer winters are turning skiing into a hobby mainly on offer for people with plenty of cash to spend.

  • One study found the price of downhill skiing had increased by 200% between 2000 and 2017.

  • Ten years ago, three-day passes for Whistler were selling for as little as $219—less than a single-day pass on most days this year.

Why it’s happening: Large resort owners like Vail, which owns Whistler and 40 other resorts in North America, have scooped up the lion’s share of the most popular mountains on the continent—and nobody is making more mountains, these days.

  • That dominance in the market—along with the ability to improve the skiing experience through large investments in tech like artificial snowmaking—allows them to charge a serious premium.

Bottom line: The days of “ski bums” hitting the slopes on the cheap are finished. If you want to ski big resorts these days, expect to pay big bucks.