Vail’s EpicMix app debuted in 2010 as an RFID-based system that allowed skiers and riders to track their days on the slopes and share their accomplishments via social media. It went over pretty well, and when a second version of the app was released in 2011, EpicMix 2.0, we did a substantial review on its upgrades, concluding that the addition of digital photos, more pins, and increased customization was a good thing.
A new version has come out every year since, but the 2015-16 version might be the biggest since its inception. Called EpicMix Time, it is the first to allow skiers to monitor the real-time length of lift lines on the mountain. Using the same technology that powers traffic apps, EpicMix Time calculates and displays up-to-the-minute wait times across 55 lifts and gondolas at Vail, Breck, Beaver Creek, and Keystone, with plans to spread it to other Vail Resort mountains next season.
I don’t support the idea of cell phone addiction spreading to the slopes, but I did find the app useful during my test runs earlier this month. The lift line insight is nice anytime you’re trying to cram in laps, like when you’re at the top of the mountain and coming up on lunch time or last chair. Knowing which lift lines are the shortest can help you plan your route. It can also help you avoid disaster – you know, that feeling when you pull up to a lift that’s loading and moving with the efficiency of a TSA security line.
If you’ve never used the app before, download it for free on your device. I still favor the real maps placed at the top of chairlifts, along with my own mental maps, when it comes to navigating the mountain. Call me old school. But I do think the interactive, GPS-powered maps are fun to play around with, especially the fact that you can plan a route based on run difficulty. I also find après/happy-hour value in knowing how many vertical feet I skied and the sequence of lifts I took to accomplish it.