What it is actually prefer to ski throughout a pandemic



Dover, Vermont (CNN) — Chilly toes: This was my greatest concern.

“So you may put on toe heaters. Or we’ll purchase you heated boots. Otherwise you’ll go to the automotive to heat up once you want a break.”

That remark was from my husband, Steve, who’d been obsessing about getting (again) on the mountain since roughly March when a visit to Zermatt, Switzerland, was reduce brief amid scary information of a raging pandemic.
Wanting to log as many days snowboarding as potential, Steve remained undeterred by the ski resorts’ mounting coronavirus protocols. Security measures range by resort, however might embrace a reservation requirement, mandated masks sporting, social distancing guidelines and restricted use of any and all indoor services.

Chris Linsmayer with Colorado Ski says some resorts in Colorado “are encouraging utilizing the automotive as a house base.” He says it is probably a very good place to eat lunch.

This idea of car as dwelling base added to my reservations round snowboarding throughout coronavirus.

Motivated by a nor’easter

The primary large snow of the season discovered us tucked away in southern Vermont with a plethora of ski areas inside mere miles of our new winter abode.

Okemo Mountain is one of the Vail-owned Vermont resorts on the Epic pass.

Okemo Mountain is without doubt one of the Vail-owned Vermont resorts on the Epic cross.

Stacey Lastoe/CNN

As luck would have it, I might reserved a spot on Mount Snow (a part of the Epic cross), in Dover, the day of the foremost snowstorm. As we made our method towards the mountain’s base that morning, I checked on-line to see whether or not latecomers may nonetheless get a spot on the mountain on what was positive to be an unbelievable day so far as East Coast situations go.

However no cube. The most suitable choice for anybody who wakened on that latest blizzardy Thursday morning in December to over two toes of snow and an itch to scratch by way of board or skis was a spot opening up within the on-line ready room.

“We’re managing entry to our mountains with a reservations system that was designed to prioritize our cross holders,” stated Margo Van Ness, director of communications of Vail Resorts for the East.

“Our plan is constant throughout all of our resorts so our cross holders will not have to trace down completely different entry per resort,” Van Ness added.

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The web reservation system that Epic arrange just isn’t precisely intuitive, and cross holders could also be penalized for canceling reservations. However it’s good to have the entire Epic’s resorts displayed in a single place.

On the mountain

A cause to attempt to get to the mountain as early as potential is to beat the crowds. This was true pre-Covid and much more true now.

Since one of many large adjustments at resorts across the nation and on this planet is how chairlifts are operated, the scramble to reach when lifts open has maybe by no means been better.

Long lines at the mountain's base and elsewhere did not go unnoticed, a change resulting from social distancing requirements.

Lengthy traces on the mountain’s base and elsewhere didn’t go unnoticed, a change ensuing from social distancing necessities.

Stacey Lastoe/CNN

However keep in mind that snowstorm? That set us again a few hours, and by the point we arrived at Mount Snow, the Bluebird Categorical, the principle chairlift, already had a frightening line. We lined up with the remainder of the pack although, our respective skis and snowboard making social distancing straightforward.

Usually, it is normal to fill the chairs to capability to assist transfer the road, however that wasn’t occurring now. As a substitute, solo skiers and riders hopped on a elevate and rode all of it the best way up by themselves.

This new loading course of slowed issues down considerably.

Just a few days later at Okemo, one other Vail-owned resort in Vermont, we opted to trip up a four-person chair elevate with a single skier, all of us masked and never fairly six-feet from one another however at the least outdoors.

At Mount Snow, the snow stored falling and windy situations made mask-wearing particularly interesting. A number of days later at Okemo, temperatures had been hotter, and at instances, I discovered myself wishing I may yank my masks down off my nostril and mouth. Respect for the principles and concern for my fellow snow lovers left my masks intact always.

On each days, I observed a couple of folks right here or there not sporting masks, however then I additionally overheard workers challenge directions to those rule breakers. And in spite of some dangerous gamers, spirits amongst workers and visitors appeared excessive — everybody merely joyful to be outdoors having fun with the weather.

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Downhill from right here

On the mountain, social distancing wasn’t an issue. Out West and in Canada and far of Europe, I think about it is even much less of a priority, given the vastness of these mountainous areas as in contrast with the Inexperienced Mountain State.

By way of precise on-mountain capability, nevertheless, the resorts CNN Journey spoke to appeared reluctant to offer onerous numbers.
The Bluebird Express is a six-person chair lift at Mount Snow.

The Bluebird Categorical is a six-person chair elevate at Mount Snow.

Stacey Lastoe/CNN

“There are a number of things that we’re utilizing to find out capability throughout our 34 resorts and they’ll proceed to evolve over time primarily based on accessible terrain and steerage from native and state well being authorities,” stated Van Ness.

Andrew Kimiecik, a advertising communications specialist at Vermont’s Stratton Mountain Resort (which is on the Ikon cross),”day ticket gross sales are being restricted on choose days for elevated social distancing across the resort.”

Adhering to social distancing could also be simple outside, however it’s much less so indoors, which is why so many resorts are encouraging various preparations, akin to bringing your personal snacks and water.

“We’re managing capability in any respect of our eating services in accordance to native and state rules,” Van Ness defined, including that the resorts are asking visitors to plan forward.

Plan B

Steve and I didn’t plan forward on our latest go to to Okemo, greater than an hour’s drive from our dwelling base. Though I might packed a bag of path combine, after almost a dozen or so runs, we had been famished.

We stopped in at reception on the restaurant the Sitting Bull, however had been politely knowledgeable that with out a reservation, we couldn’t be seated. The area was empty, unrecognizable on another pre-Covid ski day, the place you may count on 4 deep on the bar and visitors milling about ready to put a drink order.

Borderline hangry, we tried a second possibility at Okemo, the grab-and-go cafeteria-format Pete & Earl’s. The menu seemed nice, but it surely was simply an phantasm because it turned out they had been offered out of all salads and sandwiches at 11:52 a.m. on a Monday, no much less.

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Not within the temper for something from the fryer (fries, rooster tenders) or grill (burger, sizzling canine), we left the resort to seek out meals elsewhere.

Within the grand scheme of issues, this actually wasn’t a giant deal, only a minor annoyance. Nonetheless, if I used to be capable of overlook about Covid’s relentless grasp briefly up on the mountain, I used to be rapidly introduced again all the way down to Earth upon making an attempt to gas for the second half of the day.

We would’ve had higher luck at Stratton, the place I plan to go to subsequent.

Kimiecik says they’ve added one other outside eating meals truck, Base Plate, for decent seize and go meals that is straightforward to eat outside. “We’re additionally excited to announce a brand new snowcat grill, a cell eating possibility serving sizzling meals at completely different areas across the resort with a various location relying on the day,” Kimiecik added.


The writer and her husband in Zermatt, Switzerland, last year before they rushed back to the US amid the raging pandemic.

The author and her husband in Zermatt, Switzerland, final yr earlier than they rushed again to the US amid the raging pandemic.

Stacey Lastoe/CNN

The on-mountain expertise, on this a part of the United States at the least, intently resembles pre-Covid instances. The resorts are taking the state of affairs critically whereas additionally doing their finest to point out guests a very good time, evidenced by the passion by elevate attendants and different workers I encountered.

Followers of aprés ski, nevertheless, will wish to handle their expectations or danger being sorely disillusioned. The rowdy, post-drinking celebration half and parcel of many a ski journey earlier than coronavirus simply would not exist this yr. It might’t.

With good planning, nevertheless, you may eat properly on the mountain should you like — or at your automotive. At Mount Snow, a couple of tailgaters had a setup so spectacular, I used to be impressed for a future journey. I by no means did respect the sticker shock accompanying any on-mountain meals and beverage purchases.

After all, this outside winter exercise just isn’t in regards to the meals. (Not in Vermont, anyway — for that, I consider one should enterprise overseas the place snowboarding and eating appear to be of equal significance.)

I am delighted to report that reaching the zen feeling as your skis glide throughout inches of recent, virgin powder just isn’t solely potential, it is inevitable, chilly toes and all.



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