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Why size matters when it comes to ski pass prices

The cross-border Portes du Soleil ski region is a bargain for skiers looking for variety. © KEYSTONE / JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOTT

Where in the Swiss Alps do you get access to the most ski slopes for your money? We crunched the numbers and found there’s a reason you’re asked to pay more at Adelboden than Airolo, or at Zermatt than Zuoz. 

This content was published on January 7, 2018 - 17:00

Our graphic shows the international resort of Zermatt External linkrivalled in price by only a handful of other ski areas at CHF79 ($81) a day, while a pass at Zuoz External linkcosts only CHF56. However, the additional CHF23 in Zermatt buys you access to 360km of groomed pistes, compared to only 15km in Zuoz. 

At the lower end of the scale are stations where you can get in a day of skiing for between CHF20 and CHF40, but many are located below 1,500m in altitude where a consistent snowpack is anything but certain. 

Correspondingly, the lowest-lying ski areas operate only sporadically, serving the local population and offering little in the way of infrastructure and accommodation. 

We gathered the ski area data from ‘On the Snow’External link (149 stations). As shown in the graphic below, there is a strong correlation between the price of a ski pass and a ski resort's altitude.

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The higher you go to ski the more you pay. But by going higher, you don't only have a better chance of good snow conditions, the most elevated resorts also tend to have the largest variety of runs and longest pistes.  

So where do you get the most bang for your buck? The Portes du SoleilExternal link cross-border ski area linking France and Switzerland offers 650km of runs for CHF60 a day – that’s nearly 11km of slope for every Swiss franc. 

At the other end of the scale, a ticket at La PuntExternal link in southeastern Switzerland may cost only half as much, but gets you just a single kilometre of skiing accessed by a single lift. That’s a franc for every 30m of groomed piste. 

Of course, a single day is far from sufficient to ski through hundreds of kilometres of slopes, even if it’s nice to have the choice. Skiers coming to Switzerland for a holiday would be advised to check out passes for several days, or a week, or a combined ticket providing access to several resorts in one area of Switzerland.




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