What Tahoe ski season will be like during coronavirus?

2020-21 Tahoe ski season during Covid-19 coronavirus

As ski resorts open, the most commonly asked question on the minds of many skiers’ and snowboarders’ is:

What will the 2020-21 Tahoe ski season will be like during coronavirus with resorts implementing COVID-19 safety measures?

Tahoe area ski resorts indicated that cleaning and sanitation will increase in frequency and rigor and that physical distancing and masks will be required in indoor areas, base areas, lift mazes, on chairlifts and on shuttle buses.

Only related groups can ride together on chairlifts; there will be occupancy limits at indoor spaces and on shuttle buses, and Ski & Ride School will operate with reduced capacities.

Most resorts will have a reservation system to limit resort and slope-side capacity. Resort visitors will be required to make a reservation before arriving at the mountain. Resorts will limit the number of people allowed on site daily. Many will require you to buy your lift pass and book your time on the slopes at least a day in advance; you can no longer just show up on a powder day and buy lift tickets the day of.

Those with season pass will still need to reserve slope-side days. Resorts will likely sell-out for several days in advance especially on powder days. How does Epic Pass resort reservation system works?

Also as many transactions as possible will be conducted online prior to arrival to reduce interactions.

If you’d like to book your resort visit for fresh POWder days & holiday weekends, the best strategy is to..

Plan ahead by making resort visit reservations if you want to ski on a holiday weekend or whenever there’s new snow in the forecast since resorts are limiting their capacity during the coronavirus pandemic. Check El Dorado (South Tahoe), Placer County (North Tahoe) & your county’s COVID Tier and travel restrictions before you plan your trip. Will you be sharing a ski lease or vacation rental? Tips on how to reduce your risk of COVID coronavirus when sharing accommodations.

Megan Michelson, a reporter with the San Francisco Chronicle, details what Tahoe ski season could look like during coronavirus/COVID-19:

“Winter sports can still happen in the COVID era. Skiing and snowboarding are relatively well suited to a viral outbreak. They take place outside, generally away from others, and skiers are used to wearing face coverings and gloves. But life at ski resorts — assuming they’ll be able to open safely this winter — will not look the same. Many resorts were able to open for limited summer operations, like biking and hiking, and Southern Hemisphere ski resorts in places like Chile and New Zealand opened with strict COVID guidelines. With guidance from public health experts, California ski resorts are now working on reopening plans and how to best protect guests, employees and ski-town communities.

“Things will be different this winter, but we are a highly adaptable industry, having faced droughts, excessive snowfall and road closures,” says Katie Hunter, director of sales and marketing at Sierra-at-Tahoe. “We believe that winter outdoor recreation, when practiced safely, will be a source of healing for people.”

Goggle tans no more
Masks will be required at most ski resorts in congested areas. Vail Resorts — which operates Tahoe’s Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood — is requiring face coverings in designated zones, like inside the lodge, in lift lines and in ski school corrals. “Just as other tourist destinations have required, we must ensure that face coverings are not optional if you are walking around with a drink or snack in your hand,” Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz wrote in an open letter to guests.

Proper masks are preferable to the standard skiers’ Buff. “Synthetic fibers like those in a Buff are technically not as good as a cotton mask, which has more three-dimensional structure to block the potentially virus-laden droplets more efficiently,” says Peter Chin-Hong, a professor of medicine and an infectious disease specialist at UCSF. “But in community mask wearing, fit and convenience trump quality of the mask. For skiers, it’s perfectly fine to use the neck gaiter if it means you will wear it when you need to.”

Give a ski’s length in line
Physical distancing guidelines will also be in place. You’ll find signage and marked spots on the ground to remind you to give at least 6 feet of space while you wait for food, rentals, lifts and other services. You’ll load chairlifts and gondolas only with those in your existing group. (Singles will likely need to ride solo or with empty spaces in between.) Lift lines will inevitably move slower and stretch farther in length.

In the lodge, you’ll find signage that could indicate one-way traffic or specific doors for entering and exiting to eliminate congestion. Yes, everything will take a little longer, but that’s OK. Take a deep breath and be thankful you’re out there.

What day is it anyway?
While everyone used to live by traditional Monday-through-Friday work and school schedules, with schools and jobs going remote, expect to see more crowds midweek and less of a hustle on weekends. With many city dwellers relocating to the mountains with remote jobs, the typical Friday-night traffic flow to Tahoe may be reduced. Best news? If you’ve already relocated to the mountains, your kid can now ski for PE on a Monday and you can squeeze in a midday powder session between Zoom meetings.

Plan your ski days ahead of time
Ticket sales may be capped to limit the number of skiers on the hill each day. Homewood, for example, plans to limit season-pass sales and cap daily lift tickets during peak periods. So this is not the season to spontaneously go skiing. Plan well ahead and purchase lift tickets online and in advance.

“When there are capacity restrictions, you can expect advance registration systems,” says Adrienne Saia Isaac, spokesperson for the National Ski Areas Association. “Ski areas will be responsible for creating clear, up-to-date messaging across their channels, and skiers and riders will need to check the ski area’s website before they hit the slopes to learn about whatever local regulations may be in place.”

Lunch will be served on the tailgate
Ski-town and on-mountain restaurants are pivoting to offer more takeout and outdoor dining options. Think grab-and-go windows, food trucks and patio seating. You’ll still be able to enter lodges and order food, but you’ll find more heat lamps and outdoor firepits to encourage you to dine alfresco. You’ll also see a lot more people packing their own lunch and eating at their car or slopeside condo. In towns like Truckee or South Lake Tahoe, gone are the days of weekend crowds surging popular bars and restaurants. You’ll order food and drinks to go and bring it back to your cabin.

“For skiers, many settings are low risk — particularly those in the open air and while enjoying the slopes,” says Chin-Hong. “One area that is especially at risk is the après-ski setting at the lodge where people may be eating, drinking. I would avoid that area if possible and take your hot chocolate outside or back to your room.”

Goodbye, carpooling
Carpooling to the mountains with people not in your household is a thing of the past, so you may see an uptick in cars heading from the Bay Area to Tahoe. When in the mountains, you can still ride public transportation like buses or on-demand rides to the ski hill, but plan on wearing a mask, sitting far from others and keeping the windows open. Most likely, you’ll be driving your own car or staying close enough to the mountain that you can walk to the lifts. Before you go, check resorts’ apps or websites for up-to-date parking and transportation tips.

Lifties gone robotic
Resorts are moving many services to digital to reduce face-to-face contact. Take Sugar Bowl. The resort has invested in radio-frequency identification scanning gates at all primary chairlifts for this winter, as well as new self-service stations for other services to promote contactless transactions. It’s official: Gone are the days of human ticket checkers scanning your pass in line. This winter, you’ll purchase or reload your lift ticket, sign up for ski lessons and talk to guest services online or via the resort’s app.

You can always cancel
New cancellation policies and beefed-up refund guarantees are now in place to give you peace of mind in case the ski season gets shut down due to COVID or you need to cancel plans for any reason. Vail Resorts introduced Epic Coverage, which comes free with every Epic Pass this season, to provide refunds for certain resort closures, as well as job loss, illness or injury. Ikon Pass — which works at Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows, Mammoth Mountain and June Mountain — now comes with Adventure Assurance to let you defer use of your pass for any reason to next year.

Sierra-at-Tahoe has a Play it Forward Guarantee that lets you credit this year’s pass to next season due to any unforeseen circumstances, and Homewood’s new guarantee offers prorated refunds on passes if the mountain is forced to close before March 1 due to non-weather events.

Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows has tentative plans to open on Nov. 25. “Our team is doing everything we need to do to be ready to offer skiing and riding for the upcoming winter season,” says Ron Cohen, president of Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows. “We are planning for a dynamic environment, building a full set of tools to be able to best respond to whatever comes our way, so that we can continue to offer outdoor recreation to all of our dedicated skiers and riders.” – SF Chronicle.

Looking to join a shared ski lease or are you a ski lease organizer? We’re trying to gauge sentiments, consider sharing your input with the following survey..

Like many of you, the ski/snowboard community is trying to adjust to the new normal with the COVID-19 pandemic still at the top of many of our minds. You can help us by sharing your opinion about ski lease housing options.

Please take a few minutes to help us at SnowPals understand your thoughts for the upcoming 2020/2021 Ski Lease season. Your opinion matters and will help ski Lease operators better adjust. We will publish the top level results for everyone to benefit from.

Access the survey at

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RRXDFTP

Advance thanks,

– Your friends at SnowPals

Survey questions created by Mike K., ski lease organizer.


Ski resorts opening dates and operations are contingent on state and local public health restrictions and guidelines during the pandemic; read the latest on COVID-19 pandemic emergency alert to see what businesses are opened:

City of South Lake Tahoe

EL DORADO COUNTY

North Tahoe/Truckee, CA

Placer County Reopening Requirements

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

“The Tahoe-Truckee region is governed by 6 counties, a city, a town, two states, and the federal government. This can create a lot of confusion even when we aren’t operating under COVID-19 restrictions. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers.

Keep in mind, guidelines and laws are changing almost daily; check the latest update at

https://takecaretahoe.org/covid-19/

Every ski area around the world is taking stock as to whether they can operate safely and financially viably this winter in a pandemic. So far the vast majority are deciding yes, but a few have decided “No” – keep track of rolling ski resort updates as they pertain to COIVD-19 restrictions.

♥ Share this page with friends and family via twitterfacebook.

Not for Profit Spotlight: Sierra Avalanche (Avy) Center for Backcountry Advisories, Education & Safety

sierra-avalanche-center-tahoe

Like to ski and snowboard in the backcountry where there’s abundant natural beauty, no lift lines, untracked powder slopes and wide open bowls?

Perhaps the most important consideration for all who goes to the backcountry to enjoy snow-sports is avalanche safety and acquiring the training and education to know what to do to avoid avalanche prone areas and what to do if you happened to be caught in an avalanche.

SnowPals‘ November snow-sports nonprofit HERO AWARD goes to the Sierra Avalanche (Avy) Center’s commitment to post daily avalanche forecast advisories to provide important backcountry safety information to keep everyone safe in the greater Lake Tahoe area.

sac-tahoe

Sierra Avalanche (Avy) Center functions as a private-public partnership between the US Forest Service and a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization known as Sierra Avalanche Center (SAC).

The 501(c)(3) not for profit organization known as Sierra Avalanche Center is focused on educational and safety programs to support winter recreation and fundraising to support the financial needs of the program. It consists of a volunteer Board of Directors, a volunteer Advisory Panel to the Board of Directors, and a paid Executive Director to run programs and operations. Through its fundraising efforts this group provides two thirds of the funding necessary to cover budget expenses and operations. Other expenses paid for by the not for profit include the costs of continuing education and some of the cost of the equipment necessary for the forecasters to operate safely in the field. The not for profit also funds sub contracted field observers to collect additional information for avalanche, snowpack, and weather data. Fundraising for these expenses is accomplished through the organization of the SAC Ski Day fundraisers, by securing sponsorships and grants, as well as by gathering private donations and conducting a membership drive for user support. Additionally, the Board of Directors works jointly with the Tahoe National Forest to make decisions regarding the future direction of the avalanche center that are acceptable to both parties.

Mission Statement
Sierra Avalanche Center’s mission is to inform and educate the public about backcountry avalanche conditions in the greater Lake Tahoe area.


=== Join SnowPals’ Annual Backcountry Mixer (due to Covid, 2020 we will not have group events until the pandemic is over) ===

Meetup with local backcountry skiers + boarders near you to connect for backcountry trips, share expenses, rides & perhaps lodging, expand your circle of backcountry ski, ride buddies/your wingman/woman for safety in the backcountry ..

http://www.snowpals.org/events/

Avalanche Education Providers (Classes/courses in avalanche awareness and safety, Level 1 and 2)

avalanche-safety-classes

Locations

Donner Summit – Truckee – North Lake Tahoe | Mt. Rose Area | South Lake Tahoe – Kirkwood – Gardnerville | Bay Area | Reno | Bear Valley Area

South Lake Tahoe – Kirkwood – Gardnerville

source: https://www.sierraavalanchecenter.org/education/providers

The California Avalanche Workshop (CAW) offers a mix of video chats and Instagram IG/Facebook live talks with forecasters, researchers, and past CAW presenters.


Where can you buy discount Tahoe area resort lift tickets and also support a great nonprofit cause?

During the winter, the Sierra Avalanche Center sells discount lift tickets; funds raised supports their program.

Buy tickets at https://www.sierraavalanchecenter.org

The Truckee Ranger District on the Tahoe National Forest houses and runs the avalanche forecasting operations of the avalanche center. It houses three full-time, seasonal avalanche forecasters and provides infrastructure including office space, computers, internet access, phones, vehicles, fuel, safety equipment, and supervision. The forecasters gather avalanche, snowpack, and weather observations then use this data to create and issue avalanche advisories and avalanche warnings.

Other not for profit organizations we commend for their passion and service to the snow-sports community..

♥ Our featured snow-sports nonprofit for October is SkiDuck, a nonprofit organization, whose mission is full of heart; since 2010, when ski season is in full force, they offer a free program to bring disadvantaged and financially underprivileged youth to the snow and to teach them the joys of skiing and snowboarding.

“SkiDUCK (Skiing and snowboarding for Disabled and Underprivileged Children and older Kids) is a volunteer-based non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of disabled and underprivileged children by bringing them to the snow to share the joys of skiing and snowboarding! Read more about SkiDUCK.

♥ Spotlight pick for September for Non-profit Community Service is awarded to the High Fives Foundation..

In the last decade, the High Fives Foundation has gained widespread acclaim among snow sports athletes for the foundation’s dedication to raise injury prevention awareness while providing resources and inspiration to those who suffered life-changing injuries. Even more impressive, they’ve managed to become a common thread of connection and hope between a variety of athletes, outdoor sports communities, and charitable initiatives. Read more about the High Fives Foundation

♥ Share SAC backcountry safety advisories with family and friends and plan a Tahoe getaway; share this page via , twitter, facebook.

*New to SnowPals? Join SnowPals to..

+ expand your circle of ski and ride buddies for resort skiing/riding or if you opt for the backcountry, connect with a buddy to ski/ride with as your wingman/woman for safety.
+ expand your Tahoe rideshare contacts for trips to Tahoe and beyond especially those with multi-resort pass that gives you access to resorts worldwide (share trip expenses and perhaps make a few friends who are members of a ski lease and get invited to stay at the ski lodge as a guest)

Read about some of our newly joined members and consider joining us and share our love for snow sports.

###