When you were a kid, how great was that game “King of the Mountain?” If you missed out (or had parents who cared for your safety), the objective was simple: climb to the top of a large landmass – usually a hill or a pile of dirt – and remain at the peak as its “king,” all while combating shoving usurpers gunning for your title. Unless you wound up as the bruised and battered kid at the foot of the hill, it was a fun game. But standing atop a mound and christening it your kingdom is a childish lark. It’s not like you can claim an entire mountain for yourself nowadays, right? Well, with enough cash, becoming master of your very tall domain is actually a lot easier than you think.
A handful of ski resorts throughout the country are offering Own the Mountain packages – deals that, for a fee, allow you full, private access to the powder. Typically, exclusive mountain access can be acquired on a non-holiday, and can run a price tag of a few thousand dollars. That may seem like a hefty sum, but when divided equally among participants, the cost per skier on some mountains equates to a little more than the price of a daily lift ticket.
Montana’s Turner Mountain, which can be rented once a week, carries a $3,000 price tag, but when split between 75 close friends (perhaps for a family reunion or corporate outing), snow bunnies pay just $3 over the $37 daily lift ticket. Similarly, dividing the cost to rent New York’s Plattekill Mountain among 250 pals – the maximum number of participants the mountain allows – means hitting the trails for $10.
Some facilities, such as Sugarbush Resort in Vermont, offer additional perks beyond the solitude on the slopes. In Sugarbush’s case, a day of private snowcat skiing – off-trail, downhill skiing accessed by a snowcat instead of a ski lift – on Mount Ellen is coupled with a barbeque lunch. At Anthony Lakes in northern Oregon, up to 50 skiers can rent the 1,100-acre mountain in its entirety on any non-holiday Monday through March. The cost includes five hours of lift service and lunch at the lodge.
Of course, for those wishing to recapture the wistful violence of their childhood, space is the only amenity necessary to be King of the Mountain. Just don’t push anyone down the hill this time – that might not end well.