While I would love to be talking about the technology in my 2017 K2 Pinnacles, that’s not what this post is about. However, it you are looking for an incredible all-mountain ski that performs above expectations on both east coast mountains and the Rockies, this is the ski for you…but I digress.
I spent a week skiing in Colorado with a good friend and my son. The skiing was fantastic, as expected. What I was pleasantly surprised with was the use of technology on the mountain to make the experience even more pleasant.
We mostly skied at Vail Resort mountains. Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone. We also skied a day at one of my all-time favorites, Steamboat. The ticketing systems at both mountains leverage RFID technology to make the experience simple and efficient.
Here is a picture of the RFID card issued at each mountain.
The EpicDay card is Vail Resorts card. You can go online and purchase single or multiple day lift tickets and just pick up this card on your first visit to any of the mountains. Once you have the card, it just needs to be on your person, somewhere on its own, so the mountain RFID readers can scan and validate your card as you ski.
When at the base lifts on the mountain, lift staff carries a Symbol/Zebra RFID reader and will wave the device in front of you to pick up and validate your ticket. Once you are up the mountain, there is no longer a need to read the ticket, as you wouldn’t be able to get there without riding a base lift first. However, every lift still has RFID readers and they are used for a couple of purposes. Namely, they keep track of the lifts you ride and they are used to calculate the wait time in the lift line. Vail Resorts has a mobile app called EpicMix which will track all of this for you. There are even photographers on the mountain and they too will use RFID to track your photo opps. If you hold a season ticket, these photos will automatically post to your Facebook account if you allow that.
At Steamboat, their technology is called QuickTrax and works similarly. You register the card and it’s good for 3 years. You don’t have to visit a ticket window again during this time. You may simply go online, purchase your ticket or tickets and load them to your card so you can walk right to the lift and get to the slopes.
One thing to keep in mind with RFID technology is that you don’t want to have interference issues. If you have both of these two cards in the same pocket, only one will read and you might have issues getting on the lift if the card that reads is not the mountain you are at. Credit cards and cell phones may also interfere, so just be sure to have the card in an outside pocket on its own and you should be fine.