20-21 Covid Guidelines & Operations for Local Resorts

20-21 Covid Guidelines & Operations for Local Resorts

Latest Update: Tuesday, December 22, 2020
After the first couple weekends open we are hearing some changes happening at resorts: limiting the amount of people skiing. Let’s face it, lift lines are long and it’s just impossible to mitigate a holiday crowd trying to ski. The good news is you can still have a beer… with food. And make sure to wear a mask!

Skip to: Blue Knob PA, Boyce Park PA, Canaan Valley WV, Hidden Valley PA, Holiday Valley NY, Laurel Mountain PA, Liberty Mountain PA, Peek’n Peak NY, Roundtop PA, Seven Springs PA, Snowshoe WV, Timberline WV, Tussey Mountain PA, Whitegrass (XC) WV, Whitetail PA, Wisp MD

I always do a Lift Rate Roundup around this time, but you know… 2020. As this dumpster fire of a year wraps up, I am sure it has a few more crisis to dole out. In an effort to avoid that, I am going to try and help my fellow snow people to get out there safely this year. I don’t do this for the resorts, I do this for you (and me). We needed an easy place to see all the ski area guidelines in one place.

The question remains: Can we ski and ride this season? Do we need a special pass? Yes, and kind of yes. Read on! I got you covered…

The good news is every single one of these resorts have stated they are following enhanced sanitization protocol and social distancing will be enforced. Face coverings are required in most areas of the resorts, including lift lines and on the lift.

*Note that ALL of the below information is subject to change and definitely did after the first few weeks of the season played out. I’ll try to update this post through the season if I get wind. If you decide to go, please make sure to check each resort’s policies in full – I have a real job, y’all.


Southwestern & Central Pennsylvania Ski Resorts

Baby Pennsylvania mountains ❤

Currently, indoor space capacity for PA is 50% for all spaces including dining, lobbies, bathrooms, etc. Expect to see staff regulating this. You also cannot drink at a bar, must be consumed if dining only.

Boyce Park | Southwestern PA – Open!
This is a small hill in Monroeville/Plum, PA. I highly recommend learning to ski or ride here. To comply with covid measures, only 50 people are permitted on the mountain and the lodge is closed. Online lift ticket sales are mandatory – Visit Site

Blue Knob (Indy Pass) | Central PA – Open!
Walk-up ticket sales are OK, but online purchases are encouraged. Warming up in your vehicle instead of on public spaces is also encouraged. But, “Blue Knob All Seasons Resort has no plans to require skiers or riders to make a reservation [to ski or snowboard].”

  • All lessons and snow tubing must be reserved at least 24 hours in advance
  • All food is available for take-out only. 12/10/20
  • Unless skiers/riders have traveled together, they must ride the chairlift as a single.
  • Groups will be scheduled at staggered arrival times to increase distancing.

Blue Knob Winter Operations Plan

Seven Springs, Hidden Valley and Laurel Mountain (Highlands Pass) | Southwestern PA – 7 Springs & Hidden Valley Open!
LM not open yet, but offering a season pass price “rollback” offer.
7S was the first resort that I researched, and all this came as pretty shocking to me, but just wait…

  • All purchases have moved online for these 3 resorts, including purchasing lift tickets, rentals and lessons.
  • Lift ticket availability will be limited as of 12/21. Their online system has been down a lot so be sure to purchase like Tuesday or Wednesday if you want to go on a weekend – Lift Ticket page.
  • No strangers will be placed on a lift together, and if you prefer to sit as a single, they will do that. They’re going to work to space out the line including side by side distancing.
  • *No indoor dining as of 12/10 Utilizing their base area for outdoor dining and adding new walk-up/takeaway options around the resort.
  • Masks are required. Including in the lift line and riding the lift. There will be staff at lift reminding you of this.

7 Springs Winter Operations Plan | Hidden Valley Winter Operations Plan

Tussey Mountain | Central PA – Open!
A little hill out by Penn State, which I don’t think has the capacity to go all online. I think that you’ll be ok showing up and purchasing a lift ticket at a Point of Sale. Two singles can sit on opposite sides of their quad lift, too. Lessons will be restricted to 6 students.

Tussey Mountain Winter Operations Plan

Whitetail, PA

Whitetail, Roundtop, Liberty Mountains (Epic Pass, Vail Resorts) | Central PA – Open!
I looked up Whitetail only. I previously worked at Liberty when Peak Resorts acquired these three, and moved right before Peak Resorts was purchased by Vail Resorts. Ah, consolidation. Epic pass resorts all have the same operations plan.

It looks like you will have to reserve a spot to ski or ride at these resorts. Pass holders will get priority access to reservation days. This is probably for the best and will make lift lines amazing, but… wow! Take a look at Whitetail’s Reservation Details.

Also, these resorts are cashless everywhere including hotel and restaurants.


West Virginia Ski Resorts

One of these fun WV resorts!

Canaan Valley (Indy Pass) Open!
I have not found any ski-specific outline of Canaan Valley’s operation. It is a West Virginia State Park and they will be following guidelines such as required face coverings and 6-ft distancing. There is a note that they are “updating our online booking capabilities” and to call to make a reservation at this point.

Canaan Valley Safety Guidelines

Timberline (NEW!)Open!
After some turbulent times, Timberline is OPENING! This WV resort has some of the best terrain our area has to offer… and then it closed. In comes snow angels from midwest to resurrect this amazing spot with $10M in NEW everything! “Opening for winter 2020/21 with 2 NEW lifts, a remodeled lodge, 2 new terrain parks, a new beginner area, and increasing snowmaking!” Read More*Note for Christina to ski this immediately and post about it.

Anyway, here’s some quick bullets, and it looks like ticket sales will operate as usual for now.

  • Masks and distancing required and enforced
  • Group reservations are limited, Lesson capacity limited
  • Latest HVAC UV sanitization is installed
  • Season Passes will rollover to next season if they have to close the resort
  • The lodge will be pass-through only for tickets, passes, and rentals.
  • Foodservice with a limited menu will be available outside on the deck, with outdoor seating only.
  • Lessons will be available, but beginner terrain will be limited and hike-able only.
  • Both chairlifts will be open.

Timberline Opening Winter Operations

Western Territory views at Snowshoe, WV

Snowshoe (Ikon)The Shoe’s BEEN open!

Buy online. Capacity limits will be in place, so walk up lift tickets are not guaranteed. Snowshoe sold out holiday weekends prior and after the Christmas holiday. So they mean it! “We strongly encourage our guests to purchase their tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.” Here is where you buy Snowshoe lift tickets online. I recommend you do this early in the week prior to weekends and holidays.

If you have a Season Pass or advance purchase a package, you will be good to ski and ride.
“At this time, Ikon Pass, Ikon Base Pass, Snowshoe Unlimited Pass, and Early Season Pass holders will not need reservations to ski and ride during the 2020/21 winter season at Snowshoe. Guests who advance purchase a package (including lift tickets/passes and lodging, etc.) are guaranteed mountain access for the dates of their booking.”

  • Reduced Lesson Capacity
  • Camps are cancelled
  • Expanded outdoor dining, no restaurants are closing but will be monitored by capacity.

Snowshoe Winter Operations Plan

Whitegrass (XC)OPEN for XC!
Canaan Valley is one of the greatest places to cross country ski. Right on Whitegrass’ home page: coming soon – online reservations for passes, rentals and lessons, plus reduced access to lodge and cafe pickup-only. Visit Site


MARYLAND SKI RESORTS

Whales at Wisp Resort, MD

Wisp Resort Open!
I hope you got the Mission: Four’dable ticket pack if you don’t have a season pass. Although I have a Snowshoe season pass, I regret every time I miss out on this because it’s a much faster drive to get out on the mountain. Four’dable is $229 for a four pack of any-time tickets, which comes out to $57.25. A regular ticket is $89, so you save almost $32 each time. That’s a dozen wings and a couple BL smoothies!

This is another fully online set up with all products and activities to be purchased in advance.

  • Indoor capacity in MD for all spaces is also 50% – includes restrooms, lobbies, etc.
  • Nice bonus: Wisp will pro-rate a credit to your pass if they have to close due to COVID.

Wisp Resort Winter Operations Plan



Southwestern NY Ski Resorts

Peek’n Peak Open!
Another strong recommendation to purchase tickets and activities online in advance. And lessons reduced to 10 people.

This is interesting, and unique to this resort: Season Passholders will need to check in for use in contact tracing efforts. Ticket buyer info is collected at purchase. These records will be retained for a minimum of 28 days.

Once more, outside food will not be permitted to be brought into resort dining facilities, including at The Main Lodge. (Believe me, this policy is great for the resorts. I’ve seen crock pots at the dining halls at Liberty… LOL!) Grab n go will be made available as well as takeout for those staying in condos.

Peek’n Peak Winter Operations Update

Holiday Valley Open!
The WAS most relaxed one yet, but it didnt last very long. HV has a very lengthy section on cleaning protocols, and yet again, another “we strongly encourage you to purchase your tickets online in advance… we may not be able to offer walk up tickets.” However, passholders are still free to come and go as they please. To ease the potential strain during peak periods, we are planning to open Yodeler and Mardi Gras lifts for Classic passholders at 8 am every Saturday between December 26th and February 27th.”

Holiday Valley Winter Operations Update

Well, good luck. It’s all pretty straight forward at this point. Do what you need to do. Get some blankets for the car, and increase your data plan if you can. As Tussey Mountain says, “Don’t be the reason there is no season.” Be safe. We got this. Snow love to you!

TL;DR: Buy your lift tickets online before you visit any resort this winter.

Holiday Valley, NY – some other year…

A Pair of Pants: How Outdoor Clothing is Keeping People Inside

A Pair of Pants: How Outdoor Clothing is Keeping People Inside

I am a lucky woman. My mother instilled a love for being outside in me when I was young. Horseback riding, skiing, and camping were regular events that happened in my childhood. My Girl Scout leader was a biologist, and we learned things that other girls in scouts didn’t get to—we set up tents, cooked our breakfasts on tin cans, hiked, and investigated wildlife with more science behind it than a 7 year old needed. We camped multiple times each summer. We spent our time riding bikes on the Great Allegheny Passage and paddling kayaks across local lakes. There are so many memories that I am privileged to have. These were the experiences that shaped my passions long before I was shaped by a society that told me I needed to be thin.

Four girls stand on skis with a mom. Faded picture of a printed photo.

The Coveted Beginner… But Only If They Fit

The National Ski Area Association (NSAA) focuses greatly on converting beginners into a core winter sports audience. I am sure we can see similar goals across all outdoor sport associations. This is an effort that I am passionate about, from not only a professional standpoint, but personally, as well.

Christina Skis smiles in a red jacket.

Countless studies have been conducted to figure out how to grow participation in outdoor sports. Out of the entire ski and snowboard demographic, only 8% are classified as beginners and a mere 17% of those beginners continue to enjoy it, according to the NSAA. “In order for the ski and snowboard industry to grow… it is necessary to overcome unfavorable demographic trends, time poverty, increased alternative leisure activities and an overweight population needs to be addressed.”

I’ll address the last part: Within the outdoor industry, it needs to be acceptable to get outside and try something which encourages movement in the outdoors regardless of weight.

It is common knowledge that “the Average American Woman wears between a size 16–18, with greater distinctions found when considering race and ethnicity.”

I would love to try and ski and feel it’s something [my fiancé] and I would bond over because he loves it, but I went to a ski shop last year and tried on every pair of pants I could find that I thought would fit me, and nothing did. I would’ve had to resort to men’s bibs and I felt so bad about myself and still haven’t gone skiing because of that experience.

@genakeebler

For some reason, outdoor retailers continue to ignore the facts when it comes to providing appropriate sizing in their clothing options. Through this, we are excluding a major percentage of the “never-evers” that everyone in the outdoor industry is working so hard to acquire and convert. Why can’t that include a plus size skier… or snowboarder, or hiker, or climber, or kayaker?

My Own Experience… I Don’t Fit

Let me note that this does not affect only beginners. I’ve had multiple experiences like Gena, quoted above. I am your Average American Woman, size 16-18. This usually converts to an XXL. Classified as a “fat girl” in just about any industry, and obese in the medical field. I’m fat… but I ski, I hike, I lift, and I do yoga. I am fat and I try to shop at REI, Backcountry, Patagonia and local retailers. I’m fat and have spent more money with the outdoor industry before the age of 30 than I care to calculate. And maybe one day I will be lucky enough to spend even more money getting my future children outside. I am your ideal customer, yet I still can’t find my size.

I have been skiing for over 25 years, and rode close to 30 days from December through April in Pennsylvania this year. And I almost couldn’t even find pants this season.

Skier doing a happy dance.

It’s not that I didn’t try endlessly to fit into how I am supposed to look. But I realize—how much longer do I have to stomp my own self-worth into the ground because I don’t fit into a specific standard pair of pants? My relationship with food and perception of my body’s size are going to be things that I have to continuously work on, and I envy the confidence of the body positive movement on The Gram. For now, the goal is a life of self-love and body acceptance and health. That’s where this post is coming from.

For the last 8-ish years, I’ve worn Men’s Bonfire pants and an XL Men’s Burton jacket. I looked pretty fly although the jacket ends halfway down my thighs, tight on my chest, and I ski with my pants unbuttoned (they fit when I bought them!). Looking at Bonfire’s sizing chart, Men’s XL pants would most likely just fit me without having an inseam to my knees. But the Women’s XL waist measurements cut off right before numbers are even is in my range. They don’t offer Women’s XXL. Unbuttoned is literally how I’ve skied the past few seasons because I knew it was going to be difficult and depressing to find a new pair of snow pants. But it was time to enter the shopping minefield again.

Fast forward to November 2018. I needed black snow pants for work. Determined to find a women’s cut, I looked all around and decided Burton might have stylish pants that could fit me. They had women’s XXL after all! But come early December, any XXL Burton women’s snow pant in black was sold out across the Internet. Thankfully, a customer service rep found a brick and mortar store that had them. Supporting a local shop was for the best, but the chances I could walk in to one and actually find pants were rare. The closest shop that had women’s XXL black Burton pants was 3 hours away from me. And while I had great customer service, XXL sizing doesn’t ever guarantee me a fit that will allow me to move the way I need to ski, so naturally I was nervous. But Lo and behold! I ripped a page out of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and they magically buttoned.

Where do we go from here?

Part of me feels like the only limits we have are the limits we place on ourselves and fat people shouldn’t depend on stores to get their sh*t together, but the other part of me feels like not having a warm down packable coat that fits me is rude and I want to rage about it…

@fatgirl.hiking

I’ve been trying to comprehend and write about this for a while now. The feelings have always been there, but I’ve been sitting in semi-silence. Thoughts whirling in my head. Drafts written and ignored. Some chirps here and there on Twitter. But mostly I sit with quiet breath, holding it in. Sucking it in.

Follow and support plus-size outdoor advocates. Share their message. People like @samortizphoto are making waves in the outdoor industry. @unlikelyhikers‘ Jenny Bruso wrote an incredibly detailed post regarding Plus Size Activewear and mentions all sorts of brands that can get you outfitted and outside. @fatgirlshiking also has a detailed Resource Guide that supports smaller companies that support plus-size hikers.

I want you to experience winter on a mountain. I am excited to get you out on the snow with me next season. Here’s why: “More than 85% of all women surveyed believe the outdoors positively affects mental health, physical health, happiness and overall well-being, and 70% reported that being outdoors is liberating.” I want this for everyone.

It’s been obvious that REI is working diligently to expand available sizing. “It takes time to balance the science and art needed to create products that truly fit every active woman; designers need to work with developers to create blocks, or patterns, that take into consideration the nuances of the human body.” I hope that with REI taking a stand to work on this, this will inspire more popular outdoor brands to do the same.

A post shared by Sam Ortiz (@samortizphoto) on Apr 9, 2019 at 11:18am PDT

We’re here for the outdoors in all shapes and sizes. We’re asking to be recognized as a part of the demographic, because, well, we are part of the demographic. Get out there and tell your story, even if you have to do it with your pants unbuttoned. The industry is taking a look, we just need to show them that people bigger than their mold are also a big part of it.


References:

Deborah A. Christel & Susan C. Dunn (2017) Average American women’s clothing size: comparing National Health and Nutritional Examination Surveys (1988–2010) to ASTM International Misses & Women’s Plus Size clothing, International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education,10:2, 129-136, DOI: 10.1080/17543266.2016.1214291

Model for Growth. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.nsaa.org/growing-the-sport/model-for-growth/

Parris, A. (2019, April 08). What Is REI Doing About Extended Sizing in 2019? Retrieved from https://www.rei.com/blog/news/what-is-rei-doing-about-extended-sizing-in-2019

Stritzke, J. (2017, December 29). Force of Nature: Let’s Level the Playing Field. Retrieved from https://www.rei.com/blog/news/force-of-nature-lets-level-the-playing-field

My Ski Story: Through the Years

My Ski Story: Through the Years

THREE

It started from before I could remember, but I like to think of this scene: 1992. Mom in the blue one piece ski suit I’ve seen hanging in the storage closet, skiing with me between her knees. A wide-eyed little girl with curls of brown hair peeking wildly in tufts from under a too-big hat, small skis two straight lines as Mom holds me up, her skis jammed in a wedge (I know that hurts our knees now, so thank you for that). Tiny pink pony mittens hang on to Mom’s poles, which are held horizontally in font of both of us. Mom’s got each end of those poles in her own hands, creating a gate so her daughter won’t send herself careening down the trail. At three, we bounce.

TEN

Sometime between 8 and 12 were the glory days. One thing I can remember feeling was annoyance because my mom made me take a lesson while all my friends went off on their own (I should thank her for that now). I remember the families we came with brought walkie talkie radios. They’d set the channel (9? or 3?) for the weekend, us kids would keep them in our pockets and the dads would close answers to where-are-you calls with, “ten-four.”

I remember being terrified at the top of Stingray, the difficult ♦ sign looming, the edge and trees staring me down as the group of girls dropped in, screeching with joy below me, power “V” in full effect down the mountain. I had to keep up, forced to follow suit. The mountain was big then, and I didn’t want to get left behind.

Back at the condo, all cozy and warm, I would pour through the wooden photo album on the coffee table, depicting happy groups of friends as laughter from the same smiling faces jingled out from the kitchen. I looked through that thing every time I’d visit. After dinner, all of the kids piled into the loft for movies and gossip and drifted to sleep. Après at eleven. I loved those days.

to-size-throwback

SIXTEEN

Ski Club. The charter bus was filled with cute senior boys on Thursday nights after school. My friends and I would climb on in, giggling at their antics but would never dare talk to them. A group of us played around on the mountain each week through the winter, shouting and laughing, completely forgetting about the boys until we got back on the bus.

We were required to take a lesson the first night of the school program every season. The club supervisor just so happened to be an instructor, and a group including myself went with him. I remember skiing in the dark while he explained that I should keep my shins glued to the front of my boot and to think about the distribution of weight in my feet as I made a turn, like a pendulum on a grandfather clock. I had never thought of skiing like that before. In fact, until then I don’t remember thinking about the actual act of skiing much at all! This is where my technical abilities started to change. He also suggested I become an instructor so I could get a season pass next year. Done and done.

EIGHTEEN

I finished my first ski season instructing and decided I needed my own equipment. At eighteen, I finally received my own pair of skis and boots. This is essentially life-altering the first time you ski on something that’s for you and not rental equipment. Now with my own equipment, and continuing as an instructor, I had never been a better skier than I was when I was taking clinics and teaching lessons. The way I thought about skiing and how to get down the mountain changed forever.

TWENTY

College came and I lost myself for a while, but then a trip to Killington fell in my lap sophomore year. I just rekindled a friendship with the girl I was going with a few weeks prior, but I couldn’t turn down a trip to Vermont! I ended up making 10 best friends for the weekend. Riders I thought were exponentially better than me agreed over drinks and burnt pizza, “you’re a good skier.” I always tend to think down upon myself, but at that point, I realized: I was a skier. And I could definitely hold my own.

Junior year, I moved to a larger university and followed my heart, teaching at the small mountain nearby. I met some friends that I eventually lost to the west coast, but some of them continue to change the course of my relationship with snow.

TWENTY-TWO

Group of FriendsGraduated. Full time job. Singles line. I met a boy on a chairlift, as cliché as that sounds. I know I talk about this ex before, and while I hate to dig up old flames, the fire was squelched long-ago. So friends, don’t fret, I hope to say we’re both eight years of over-it. This relationship, however, contributed significantly to my ski life and I did enjoy the people that were around at this point. Rewind the tape and I was back in a cabin on the mountain, just like I was ten again. Except this time, 90% of movie nights were filled with beer, DiGiorno and a shuttle bus ride to the bar. Sometimes we’d let ourselves melt into the couch with lots of wine, but most nights we were out. And every day we would ski and ride that entire mountain like it was the last thing we did on this earth. Sunday night rolled around and we’d go home to work as only a means of survival until Friday. We were living for the weekend. For two seasons, that dream lasted.

TWENTY-FIVE

Goggle Reflection

Mid-twenties is no-mans-land for skiers and riders that aren’t living in a mountain town. Your friends will have too many things to do, have big items they need to spend money on, and will start to have smaller humans to take care of. But you could find me on the road, sidekick and friend either driving or telling me to get out of the car in the middle of the snow-covered winding roads of Appalachia so he could.

Snowpeople, we called ourselves. Unshaven, unshowered, unfed. We’ll stop at a gas station on the way. He was transitioning back from dry, fluffy champagne powder and I was transitioning out of a one-mountain season pass. So broke and still blowing money, I skied around the mid-Atlantic, visiting every mountain I could get to by first chair. The epitome of not a care in the world… Other than where the next snow storm was going to hit, of course.

Snowshoe, Wisp, Canaan Valley, Timberline, Seven Springs, Hidden Valley, Blue Knob, Whitetail, Holiday Valley… I was everywhere at least twice and found myself continuing to live the ski dream I thought I left behind at twenty-two. Making friends out of strangers, all the two of us needed was good conversation and good bartenders. And the bartenders turned into friends, too. Those were the days that inspired me to start this blog.

Group of Friends 2

TWENTY-NINE

Sure, there’s new friends to be had on the mountain, but this season, I think I am just surfacing the the light in the dark ages of skiing alone.  I’ve been fighting my own demons as I’ve grown. As more responsibilities pile on, anxiety rears it’s ugly head and ebbs and flows with the seasons. But I’ve had some almost religious experiences riding by myself. A good playlist in my ear, no thoughts in my head and that feeling when you get it all right.

Best ChristinaIt lasts only for a fleeting second. Just a moment when your weight shifts from one edge to the other, throwing pressure into your carve and before the shock absorbers in your legs throw you into the next turn. I don’t even know if I’m explaining this right, but you might know where I’m getting at. If you don’t, please take a lesson and work on getting there. When you connect these moments all together, it feels like you are floating down the hill. It’s unearthly, heavenly, and combined with some of the most beautiful scenes you can get, you know that there’s a higher power in it all, however you believe that to be.