The 2020-21 Ski Thread - The mountains are calling and I must go

Last season’s ski thread is here:

It’s hot out and our A/C broke down this Labor Day weekend, but I just bought a season pass (Epic Pass) for the upcoming ski season, so I was inspired to start this season’s ski thread.

Last season ended rather abruptly in March due to COVID-19. The pandemic is still ongoing, of course, so I’m avoiding all fly-away trips and bus trips until the situation gets more under control or we get a vaccine. All of my trips this upcoming season will therefore probably be local ones here in New England, primarily day trips. I am planning a week-long drive-away trip to Sugarloaf in Maine, and may consider a short overnight trip or two to upstate Vermont or New Hampshire.

The resorts I’ve checked out seem to have good COVID-19 plans in place. Masks and social distancing will be required at all times, and they will not put unrelated groups on the same lift chair or gondola. (Two singles will apparently be allowed on opposite ends of lift chairs.) And of course, skiing is primarily an outdoor activity. I never spend much time in the lodge anyway, and this season I will spend even less time there.

With respect to gear, I had an issue with the bindings on a new pair of skis I bought late last season. My fantastic ski shop fixed the issue by giving me a brand-new replacement pair of skis right as the season ended. So I have a unused pair of 2020 Blizzard Rustler 9 skis that I can’t wait to try out.

In short, after cancelling two planned vacations this year, I’m really looking forward to ski season. Fingers crossed!

I work at one, and have been seeing some interesting trends due to COVID. Here are what some are ski resorts are planning:

Things like limited number of skiers allowed, no window sales or same day sales, and only reservation to ski on a particular day; even season pass holders will have to reserve their days ahead of time, the only one that gets around this is employee and 'employee’s family passes called dependency passes.

Singles lines are gone and lift loading will be only with people who are in your group. However they will load 2 singles on opposite sides of a quad or higher chair. So if you go alone it is possible that you may be loaded into a 8 person gondola by yourself. Due to such loading inefficiencies though the number of skiers will be lower, lift lines may not be, and they will be spaced out due to social distancing.

Food and beverage all outside, and limited offerings, lodges just for bathrooms. That one is going to be hard on people in the bitter cold days, perhaps the resorts will install IR heat lamps outside.

Ski school will be much smaller classes and not include lunch for all day kids programs, but be broken up AM group and PM group - they can do both but will be released to their parents/guardians during lunch and have to be dropped off again.

For skiing if you can jump though the hoops you should get very uncrowded slopes but perhaps the same lift waits, sort of a throwback to how skiing was in the 70’s during weekends (due to low capacity lifts back then).

Right, I meant to mention that. There is a detailed reservation system for Epic Pass holders that includes advance reservations as well as week-of reservations. It reminds me of the complicated ticketing system that Disney has moved to in recent years for their parks.

I hadn’t heard that they were planning to eliminate singles lines, but it makes sense if you can’t add a single to another group like they normally do.

I’m a little nervous about crowded lift lines. Hopefully they will enforce masks as well as social distancing and space people out (both within a line and for adjacent lines).

I wonder if this alone will keep a lot of people away. I know a lot of people who seem to spend more time inside the lodges than on the slopes.

We’re all busy discussing the upcoming ski season around here. The actual day skiing isn’t a huge concern. We’ll figure out advanced lift ticket purchases, but we do that now to save money anyways. We can boot up in the car, carry food and water, quick trips to the bathroom as needed, and apres-ski in the outdoor bars or tailgate in the parking lot. It’s the lodging and dining that’s a problem. We don’t see any easy way to stay together as a group. Day trips may be the way to go.

A lot of people are wondering that. Skiing has been more then a activity but a all day experience which usually includes a very social lunch break. That helps bond the group together and helps balance the day, after all all skiing is basically and with very limited exception, done as a individual. So it’s just not coming in from the cold, but has always been a important part of the ski experience.

More to the practical side I would expect the day to be skiing focused, not the total experience, as such I do expect people will be spending a shorter amount of time at the mountain, and heading out early, hoping to get their group ‘fix’ at someplace besides the cafeteria or bar.

Here in SW Montana neither ski resort (Bridger, Big Sky) has released their winter plan yet. I have a weekday pass to Bridger and a few days left at Big Sky from last year. I expect them to follow the rest of the industry with a reservation system. I usually ski alone, so I’m not sure how that’s going to work out personally.

The backcountry is always an option, but it’s going to be crowded this year. Word is touring set-ups and snowmobiles are pretty much sold out. I have my Timbersled so getting powder that way will be easy–it pretty much is like powered skiing. I can also use it for access to more remote touring.

I’m supposed to go to Canada with a group of buddies in late February, but that seems unlikely on many fronts. Unless there’s a vaccine the border will still be closed, and getting in a helicopter with 12 other people doesn’t seem wise, to say the least. Talk about first world problems, but missing that trip is going to really hurt.

I guess I picked a terrible year to return to skiing. :neutral_face:

Picked up a new pair of Rossi Super 7 HDs for touring to replace my DPS Wailer 112s. Not as light but they sure are fun in powder. Have my Blizzard Rustler 10s and Elan Ripstick 96s for daily drivers. We got our first snow Monday!

Thanks Robby for opening the 2020-21 Ski Thread!

A couple of days ago I received a message from one of my students saying she had purchased a pass for the coming season 2020/2021. In 2018/2019 after the facility was closed but there was still enough snow to pick our way down she and I had climbed to the top for one last run. Once it closed last season due to covid-19, we did not return post-closure out of concern that we could get the hill in trouble with the authorities. The ski season was over but there had been no emotional closure for us.

The folks running the place were put in a terrible bind, for they lost what usually are the two most profitable weeks of the season – March school break. I am very relieved that they will be opening it up this season, albeit with some covid-19 prophylactics re. lift, lift-line and clubhouse usage. I’m giving up my locker and will be avoiding the clubhouse as much as possible. To do this I’ll have to drive to the hill rather than bicycle.

Fortunately for me, my last full day of skiing last of the 2019/2020 season on 15 March 2020 (the second last day of skiing before the covid-19 closure) was my best in memory. The surface was immaculate and rock hard, so as the sun ever so slightly warmed it the speeds consistently increased. In the morning, Nordica GS Doberman set up for Telemark topped out at +104.4 km/h 64.87mph. In the afternoon when there was a little surface moisture due to the sun, Nordica Super-G set up for alpine topped out at 110.3 km/h 68.54 mph (which is not that fast for Super-G). I am still undecided about setting up a pair of super-g skis for tele. The stability of the super-g skis is enticing, but there are too many other things going on in my life at the moment to put my mind to it, so I’ll probably won’t get around to it.

For folks who are new to skiing, when it comes to cobbling together kit, your eyes open for ski swaps. It can get you into the game at very low cost.

And now we hold out breath for one or two months.

Tride, this is probably for filing under truly useless information, but as long a you can sit about in quarantine for a couple of weeks, you can still fly into Canada. I’m sorry covid-19 is trashing your heli-skiing.

Thanks–I know. I could drive, actually (about 14 hours). But if they aren’t getting customers from outside Canada they aren’t in operation. Plus 14 days in a hotel in McBride BC sounds pretty grim!