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So what's going to happen next season?

SallyCat

Moderator
Staff member
Limiting locals to make space for travelers is absurd pandemic logic. I'm sorry, I'm about to be super-obnoxiously opinionated here:

NOBODY should be traveling to ski until this disease is reasonably under control or there is a vaccine. Resorts should shut down their lodging operations and only allow locals/in-state residents to ski and only if it can be made reasonably safe, which would mean lots of inconveniences such as closed lodges, no food service, etc.

Wearing masks isn't enough, people also need to stop moving around.

Vermont has pretty good containment right now, but if people come up in big numbers to ski, stay in hotels, shop in our cramped little stores (lookin' at you, Ludlow Shaws...) get hurt and ride in the back of an ambulance and visit our hospitals, they will create exponential exposure. Our little state has done well COVID-wise because we're small and rural, but also because we have very high mask compliance and people here are generally making good decisions about distancing and other safe habits. One week of Christmas visitors pretending things are "normal" and behaving carelessly could be a disaster for our service-industry workers and their families.

I realize that we suffer from a near-total lack of leadership on this pandemic at the national level, and that businesses are being shoved toward the brink while working people whose PUA subsidy just ended are desperate for income. Our political leadership incentivizes all of the wrong behaviors, and I don't blame people for the decisions they make out of brutal necessity. But I'm still stunned at the individual choices that people are making to take unnecessary out-of-state trips.
 

jskis190

Certified Ski Diva
I guess Canada counts as international. For the first time time in 17 years we won't be skiing in the US. First of all the border is still closed, but more importantly the virus doesn't seem to be under control there. The situation is better here, so we might consider Canadian rockies. Apart from skiing, we don't do much else on a ski trip so grocery shopping etc. would be the same as at home. My concerns would be how they plan to control crowds. I'm guessing that we will be cross country skiing at home this season.
 

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
So Magic here in Vermont has become the first area in the Northeast to offer a detailed preview its preliminary plan for next season:


According to GM Geoff Hatheway, "NOTHING IS SET IN STONE", but this is their best guess as to what's going to happen:

* Daily capacity will be limited to 50% of hourly uphill lift capacity. That means 1,700 people per day.

* Lodge capacity will be limited to 25% of rated capacity, which is about 200 people.

* Passholders will have the first opportunity to reserve spots before they become available to the general public for day ticket purchases. (example: unlimited reservations available for pass holders through Tuesday of each week for all upcoming ski days--then on Wednesdays reservations will be opened up to just day ticket buyers). So a bit more advanced planning will be needed. "Same-day" reservations to ski will be allowed if there is still capacity available that day for both season pass holders and day ticket customers. Weekdays (Thursdays/Fridays) will not be a capacity issue here so those days should be closest to normal with plenty of space available inside and out. Also early season pre-Christmas is typically less crowded, so capacity shouldn't be any issue then at Magic.

* Additional outdoor spaces will be prepared as indoor space will be limited, especially on weekends. Things like picnic tables and outdoor heaters are likely.

* There are no plans to raise day ticket prices, in fact season passes were already discounted.

To find out more, go here.
 
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It’s nice that Magic is so transparent, though nothing surprising here. I think it sounds like what everyone has been assuming already, but everyone here is very in tune with ski news whereas there are probably many in the general public who have no idea that their ski vacation will likely look very different this season. As long as the skiing happens I am fine with everything else at the mountain being super minimalist in terms of lodges and food etc.
 

SallyCat

Moderator
Staff member
Thanks for posting, @ski diva, that is exactly the information I needed in order to feel confident purchasing a pass (i.e., that I won't have to pay day ticket prices all season). Magic has wonderfully affordable pass options for locals and first responders, so I'm glad to hear that they are making some good plans for safe operations.
 

This is not unexpected though.. Unless there is an outbreak of spread with other employees I wouldn't be overly concerned. This can happen in any workplace (and has been) since employees aren't kept in a bubble and do god knows what in their free time as well. I guess that is one reason for concern at ski areas though, many of the employees are young and therefore may not be as discriminating in their free time activities, hence the large amount of spreaders in the 20-30s age range in general.. Though I'm a 30 something and super careful/isolated, so it's definitely not a catch all.
 
I noted that contact tracing was started immediately. With decent access to testing and followup contact tracing, hopefully it will be an isolated cluster and not the start of an outbreak.

". . .
Morgan Emerson, a spokesperson for Deschutes County Health Services, said the county has completed a case investigation and notified all of the employee’s close contacts, which is defined as anyone who was within 6 feet of the person with the case for 15 minutes or longer.

These contacts are in “precautionary quarantine” for testing, according to the website.

The number of people who were notified after interacting with the employee with the positive case is not being released due to privacy concerns, Emerson said.

“If there are 5 or more cases associated with an employer that has 30 or more employees (Oregon Health Authority) works with us to release that information publicly,” Emerson said in an email. “This situation doesn’t meet that threshold.”
. . ."
 

fgor

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Coronavirus has come back to New Zealand with a confirmed case of community transmission in the last 24 hours. The whole country is in raised alert levels; Auckland as the epicenter of the newly discovered community transmission is in alert level 3 which is essentially a lite lockdown, and the rest of the country is in level 2. Level 2 broadly means no gatherings over 100 along with other distancing restrictions.

I know that the ski areas faced this issue back in May when the country was still in level 2. Ski season starts here in June, so at the time, the ski areas needed to prepare for a season under level 2, and were given permission to open with restrictions. As it turned out, the country eliminated covid before the season started, and their plans never had to be realised. My local commercial ski area Mt Hutt is closed today while they prepare to run under alert level 2 - planning to re-open tomorrow. Unsure exactly what the restrictions will be but I suppose there might be lift line distancing and limits on people allowed inside the cafe areas. Hopefully the covid situation doesn't get any worse here because that will close the ski areas very quickly.

New Zealand is acting very quickly but I note that most people/coworkers I know are very unhappy about the prospect of a second lockdown. It seems the first one was tolerated overall well but people aren't interested in any further restrictions to freedom.
 

fgor

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
An update on skiing during covid, at my local mountain.

https://www.mthutt.co.nz/news/covid-19/

In summary: any indoor areas have limited capacity and people should not be inside unless necessary. 1 metre distancing at lifts ("just remember tip to tail while in the queue!"). They state you may travel on chairlifts with others in your bubble, but do not state what this means for others (I assume leaving a chair between you and people you don't know). They are however still running snowsport lessons. Carparking has been slashed by two thirds (of the three carparks at Mt Hutt, my local ski area, only one will be operating). This is likely to mean that a lot of people drive for an hour on the weekend only to find that they've missed out because the single carpark is full. Those who do get a park will need to leave town even earlier than usual. I am meant to be giving a lift to a couple of friends this weekend... I shudder to think what time I'm going to have to tell them to turn up at my place..!

ETA: luckily there is one other local ski area also operating. Unfortunately the snow gods have not smiled kindly upon them and they have less skiable terrain than Hutt does at the moment, however they are always much less crowded so they will be a reasonable backup option (currently I tend to go there when Hutt is too windy to operate, which happens regularly!).
 

fgor

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I've now skied four days with social distancing restrictions in place at my usual ski area. Some comments:

They announced that due to not wanting to run shuttles (distancing....) and to limit people on the mountain, only the top carpark will be running. 550 spaces for multiple occupancy vehicles and 50 spaces for single occupancy. First in, first served. The amusing side effect of this is - people who would normally drive up on their own - now try to do ride sharing with strangers, so they don't have to fight over the 50 available single spaces.

I arrived very early each day. Saturday was the first weekend day with the new restrictions. A lot of us showed up really early, but the top carpark never even filled up - very unusual for a sunny weekend day! I think a lot of people were worried about driving an hour just to be turned away, and didn't even bother. Sunday was busier, the carpark did fill, but not insanely early. Think a lot of people are just choosing to not ski if they can't be guaranteed a carpark.

Lifts are socially distanced. You may ride a lift with your "bubble" but there must be two seats between bubbles. This means that only two singles may ride on a 6 seater lift and applies to instructor/student groups too (they do not count as bubbles). People end up standing almost shoulder to shoulder in the lift lines though. Had some skiers forming ad-hoc "bubbles" as we neared the front of the line, to speed up loading efficiency. People aren't too worried about covid here at the moment as there's been no cases found in our region (yet). Lots of eye rolling at the ski area restrictions but we're all just really stoked to be out there skiing.

YOUR CAR IS YOUR BASE LODGE. Repeated on the snow report, on the PA system, etc. Boot up at your car (which most people already do anyway, so no change there) but also rest and eat at your car. The cafes etc are still operating but only for takeout - no more indoor seating. Outdoor seating is reserved for cafe takeaway customers only. Everyone else is told to go eat in their car. Some people brought along folding chairs and music and even grills and had a sort of tailgating party at their cars. :smile:

Lift lines aren't awful. Probably faster than a typical weekend lift line. Despite all the lift distancing (inefficient lift loading!!!), there are just fewer people on the slopes, so the lines aren't getting as terrible.

My ski area has RFID lift gates/passes so they just ask that if you do not ride a lift at all that day, you check in with guest services. They are using the RFID passes for contact tracing purposes.
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
There's an interesting point. Tremblant still scans your pass. RFID gates would be a must have for no contact. Have to see what the union says..
 

SallyCat

Moderator
Staff member
There's an interesting point. Tremblant still scans your pass. RFID gates would be a must have for no contact. Have to see what the union says..
Okemo is scanning tickets for scenic lift rides, but they are doing it through plexiglass; it's a little weird, but seems to work.

I work at a fire department that leads the rescue operations for people injured or lost on our local mountain (not a ski resort, but a popular AT spot); we had a discussion today about backcountry skiing and the likelihood of increased rescue calls due to the potential higher volume and more varied experience levels of people trying non-resort skiing this year. I think the backcountry scene will be interesting to watch this winter.
 
Okemo is scanning tickets for scenic lift rides, but they are doing it through plexiglass; it's a little weird, but seems to work.

I work at a fire department that leads the rescue operations for people injured or lost on our local mountain (not a ski resort, but a popular AT spot); we had a discussion today about backcountry skiing and the likelihood of increased rescue calls due to the potential higher volume and more varied experience levels of people trying non-resort skiing this year. I think the backcountry scene will be interesting to watch this winter.
SARs are fully double what they normally are this summer here. Most of them are inexperienced people that overextended themselves. Knowing that there have been record sales of AT gear...it probably won't be good.
 
I hadn't received any of those surveys from ski resorts until I got Sun Valley's the other day. I realized when filling it out how little confidence I have in an upscale resort that prides itself on hospitality to enforce any safety rules ie masking. They are really going to call out a rich entitled person for not wearing a mask? I can't see it. I also told them I don't have confidence that Idaho was taking it seriously in general.
 

KBee

Angel Diva
We almost always only ski locally, so we're just going to continue to do that. Might make a trip to Bachelor. May avoid places that require sharing chairs, (Timberline's Palmer lift...) as I'm pretty sure the kid and I got Covid on a chairlift at Bachelor in February. Also might try hiking. Honestly, am way too lazy for that, but the kid would love it. Not going to take a plane anywhere until this is done.
 
Seems as if a number of destination resorts will be using new software from Aspenware to allow guests to check in when they are ready to start a ski day. The companies listed as clients on their homepage include Jackson Hole, Telluride, Snowbird, Boyne, Powdr, and Alterra. Presumably Vail Resorts is modifying their existing software that powers EpicMix.

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