Thredbo ski resort boss Stuart Diver says record demand for lift passes, coupled with capacity restrictions, means some people with accommodation booked will not be able to hit the slopes this winter.
Lift tickets for June, most of July and part of August sold out within hours on Thursday as up to 35,000 people waited in a virtual queue to purchase tickets online.
The process frustrated thousands of people who flooded the resort's social media accounts complaining about the booking system. Season pass holders were particularly upset about not getting priority, which rival resort Perisher has provided.
Mr Diver said there was "three times more demand for tickets" than the number of lift passes available. Thursday amounted to the "biggest single day of sales we've ever had".
Thredbo's capacity can't exceed 50 per cent, but each day's capacity will vary. For example, if there is minimal snow with only a handful of lifts open, Thredbo has to keep the capacity at half compared to usual for that day.
"Everyone is not going to be able to come skiing and snowboarding this year," Mr Diver said. "Even people who've booked accommodation may not be able to get tickets."
But as government restrictions ease and snow conditions improve, Thredbo promises it will release more tickets.
"If you missed out now it doesn't mean you've missed out on the season," Mr Diver said.
Canberra resident Lisa Stone paid $1200 for four nights at a lodge in Thredbo across two separate weekends in July. But she missed out on lift passes in the online scramble on Thursday.
Ms Stone was unable to book while at work and by the time she logged on at home, it was too late.
"I got on straight away but there were 35,000 people ahead of me in the queue," she said.
By the time she went to bed, the two weekends she'd paid accommodation for had sold out.
"If I could try to get tickets for September I may be able to move the weekends but that's a big question mark."
Ms Stone said Thredbo's decision not to prioritise season ticket holders and people who had accommodation booked was "nonsensical"
"Now they'll have this bizarre situation with people who have accommodation but no ski ticket, and punters with ski tickets but no accommodation," she said.
"The businesses in the village are really going to suffer if people aren't going to stay on the mountain because they can't get a ticket."
Jindabyne Real Estate licensee Patrick Killin said accommodation bookings were beginning to pick up now there is certainty around the dates people can hit the slopes. He said it was pleasing to have tourists return to the region otherwise "it would be a long slog until the next winter, especially after the bushfires".
Mr Killin said accommodation providers were in a difficult position because they would suffer if they allowed more flexible cancellation policies.
"We've got absolutely no association with the resorts. If we could do accommodation and ticket packages that would be fantastic in our eyes," he said.
"In a perfect world I'd love for all my guests to get tickets and everyone to be happy."
While many snow lovers are fuming, the outlook is better now than it seemed in April.
"Six weeks ago we weren't going to open, that's how bad it was," Mr Diver said.
"We were unbelievably surprised by how big the demand is this year to go skiing and snowboarding in Thredbo."