What You Missed: Indy Pass Adds 81st Ski Area

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Welcome to What You Missed, our daily digest of breaking news and topical perspectives from across the outdoor world. You can also get this news delivered to your email inbox six days a week by signing up for the What You Missed newsletter. 

Earlier this month, Blacktail Mountain, outside Kalispell, Montana, became the 81st ski area added to the Indy Pass, a low-cost alternative to mega passes like Ikon and Epic.

The Indy Pass, which costs $329 (or $131 for kids), offers customers two days of skiing at each of the resorts under the Indy umbrella, which includes hills in the U.S., Canada, and Japan. Season-pass holders for these properties can add the Indy Pass for just $189 (which means you could get 160 days of skiing for less than the cost of a day ticket at Vail, Colorado.)

The Indy Pass was conceived of by Doug Fish, an Oregon-based owner of a marketing agency, and launched during the 2019–20 ski season. It has since grown rapidly.

The company prioritizes independently owned, small-to-midsize ski areas with a community- and family-oriented vibe, an increasingly rare commodity in the ski industry. You may have heard of some of the mountains on the list, such as Idaho’s Tamarack Resort, Powder Mountain in Utah, and Waterville Valley Resort in New Hampshire. Other ski areas may be off of your radar, like Little Switzerland in Slinger, Wisconsin, or Cataloochee Ski Area in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. 

A short film from Teton Gravity Research released this fall takes viewers to 12 of the beloved hills you can frequent with the pass, including Washington’s 49 Degrees North and Maine’s Saddleback Mountain. These are not huge resorts you get access to with the big passes; each is generally smaller and beckons with its own sense of charm—cozy lodges, creaky lifts, and cast of longtime locals.

When Blacktail announced its alliance with Indy, its Instagram post described it as joining “the Indy revolution.” With skiing under pressure from climate change, mega passes, housing crises, and economic disparity, maybe a revolution is just what we need.

Montana Elk-Hunting Debate Raises Issues of Habitat Protection and Public- and Private-Land Access

Montana hunters are declaring victory after the state’s fish and wildlife commission backed away from a plan to change elk-hunting rules.

Land management, as well as population management for hunted species, is complicated. In Montana, residents can buy an over-the-counter permit, unless they want to hunt a handful of highly desirable animal herds or in specific areas of the state. Those areas and herds, which can be found on both public and private land, require a lottery-based permit.

A recent proposal would have removed the need for a hunting permit on private lands and decreased the number of total available permits on the public lands. Opponents argued that this favors private landowners and wealthy visitors willing to pay to hunt. A recent article from Outdoor Life does a fantastic job of laying it all out.

The denial of the proposal helps keep elk hunting in Montana accessible and affordable, prioritizing residents for permits to the most coveted hunts.

Flipping Out

Washington skier Sophia Rouches launches a scenic one in front of Mount Shuksan. Catch her and a crew of incredible skiers in the short film The Approach.

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