Oct 2, 2020 | By Psalm Delaney | Photo by Patil Khakhamian
Ski season is quickly approaching and the Colorado College community is anxious to hit the slopes. Good news is here! The COVID-19 pandemic has not “canceled” skiing. However, the Colorado ski season will look significantly different this year, as resorts are introducing new protocols to provide skiers with a fun and safe 2020-21 season.
The resorts under the EPIC Pass (Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Park City, Keystone, and Crested Butte) require masks and social distancing and have made significant adjustments to the mountains to make those requirements possible.
Face coverings are required to access any and all chairlifts, gondolas, and buildings. While masks are not mandatory during the physical activity of skiing and snowboarding when the participants are away from others, they are highly recommended.
During the 2020-21 season, chair lifts will be socially distanced by two single riders on opposite sides of a four-person lift or two singles and/or doubles on the opposite side of a six-person lift. If riders are in the same guest party, they are able to fill all of the seats on the lift and ride with one another.
Moreover, to reduce the number of guests at the mountains, EPIC has made the mountain exclusive to pass holders through Dec. 7. Pass holders are required to reserve their dates for the season beginning Nov. 6. Each pass holder is allowed up to seven lift priority reservation days for the regular season (Dec. 6 to April 4). This means that the pass holder can reserve dates before any individual lift tickets are available for purchases. Individual lift ticket purchases will not be available until Dec. 8.
All 2019-20 season pass holders will receive credit for the loss of season days earlier this year. Pass holders who did not ski any days during the season will receive an 80% credit towards the coming season’s pass. Those who skied only one day will receive 68%. If the skier skied three, four, and five or more days last season, they will receive 44%, 32%, and 20%, respectively.
Copper Mountain has delayed its opening date to Nov. 30. The mountain will maintain the Colorado state and Summit county social distancing and mask ordinance in a similar manner as the EPIC mountains. In addition, Copper Mountain is also establishing an online ticket and parking reservation method. The ski and ride school lessons are limited to private lessons and all participants will be of the same party. The lesson party is limited to six students.
In addition to following the state and county safety protocol, Winter Park is requiring all tickets, tours, lessons, passes, and rentals to be purchased at least 48 hours in advance to a skier’s visit.
Many resorts have also planned to make changes to resort dining. Arapahoe Basin, for example, has switched its cafeteria to walk-up cashier ordering and table delivery to improve social distancing. Any skiers who bring their own lunches will not be allowed to dine inside the resort facilities and will be required to eat in their cars.
In addition, mountain lodging resorts are operating at a limited capacity. Telluride Mountain lodging will be operating at 75% capacity beginning Oct. 1.
Much like many aspects of 2020, the Colorado ski season will be very different, as ski resorts work to simultaneously provide an unforgettable experience and protect skiers and staff.