Skiing: Dealing with Another Winter of Covid
By Iseult Devlin
Ski areas have finally gotten some good snow to kick off Winter 2022. But, while this season is looking more normal than last year, Covid protocols are changing quickly due to the recent uptick in cases. There are still no masks required in lift lines, but just before New Year’s Vail Resorts reinstated mask wearing in its gondolas.
Since September, Vail Resorts has had several policies in place for its Epic Pass holders and employees. For example, all employees must be vaccinated, and guests must be vaccinated to dine indoors. Unvaccinated guests can still get grab-and-go options and eat outdoors, however. Additionally, children 12 and older must be vaccinated to participate in all-day lesson programs since they include indoor lunches. Not surprisingly, face coverings will be required in all indoor settings.
Alterra, the other big multi-pass company, which controls the Ikon Pass offering 47 destinations, takes a different approach leaving Covid policies up to the individual resort. One of Alterra’s resorts is Vermont’s Stratton, which has continued indoor mask requirements this season. Another, Killington, just went back to mask requirements in its base lodges and indoor settings after a Covid outbreak over the holidays.
Some resorts still require lunch reservations, but usually to ski or to park are generally not a thing this year. Some base lodges will not allow guests to leave boot bags in the lodge but, they can come in and at least put boots on inside instead of last year’s “change-in-your-car” suggestion.
“We’re allowing full loads on the lifts but encouraging people to get on with those they know,” explained Craig Clemmer, Director of Marketing at Bretton Woods in New Hampshire.
The good news is that things are much better than last year. Special events are a go such as Vail’s Women at the Summit by Skadi, a free event that offers activities that celebrate women. During the Holidays, some resorts did cookie and cupcake giveaways which has not been seen since pre-Covid. Races, mogul competitions and rail jams are also happening.
If you plan to travel to the mountains, check your favorite resort’s website and look for “Know Before You Go” information. New York’s Whiteface requires advance ticket sales, for example. New Hampshire’s Pat’s Peak is still offering outdoor bathroom facilities and outdoor heated cabanas—something that is likely still popular across the country. Most areas are also following the state health guidelines, so area operators may need to adapt quickly depending on what happens as the winter progresses. In the meantime, get out on the slopes where you can enjoy the safe outdoors.
Iseult Devlin is a widely published travel writer who specializes in winter sports. A former staff editor at Skiing Magazine, she has contributed to several publications including The Boston Globe, Vermont Ski and Ride Magazine, The Record and Outside Magazine. She is also the author of Winter Sports: A Woman’s Guide. In her spare time, Iseult teaches skiing part-time at Stratton and Breckenridge. You can follow her @iseult_snow