As the last few leaves fall here in Park City, we’ve already seen the first signs of winter in the form of fresh snowfall on the highest peaks and overnight lows cold enough for the snow guns to begin building a base. Being a company of winter-obsessed skiers, it doesn’t really take much for us to get excited to ski. But after the abrupt end to last season, it’s safe to say we’re all feeling particularly excited to get back out on the slopes. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, however, it’s clear we’re all going to need to take some extra precautions to enjoy a safe, successful ski season.
As nearly every facet of society has adapted to life during the pandemic, ski resorts have followed suit and are actively preparing to welcome skiers back as safely as possible. Now that most of our local ski resorts here in Utah have released their individual policies to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus, we’ve put together an overview on how to prepare and what to expect when skiing in and around Park City, as part of our mission to support your mountain recreation pursuits. In fact, many of these precautions are similar to the COVID-19 policies we put into place for our guided tours this summer.
Editor’s Note: The following policies were accurate as of 10/23/2020. These policies are subject to change throughout the winter and will be updated accordingly.
Park City Mountain
Park City Mountain was one of the first ski areas to release their COVID-19 policy, and it’s clear they are prioritizing the health and safety of their guests and employees. For the 2020/21 season, Park City Mountain will be utilizing a reservation system to limit the amount of guests on the mountain to allow for proper physical distancing.
Full details of this reservation system can be found here, but as a general overview, the sale of lift passes will be limited to a certain number each day, and general lift ticket sales will not begin until Dec. 8. This means early season skiing will be for pass holders only. Epic Pass holders will also be required to make a reservation before arriving on the mountain throughout the season. If you are a pass holder, you will be able to make as many week-of reservations as your pass allows, and you will be given priority reservation for the season beginning November 6th. This gives you the opportunity reserve days well in advance of any trips you may have planned.
In addition to the reservation system, Park City Mountain will be requiring face coverings both on the mountain and within resort amenities; this includes waiting in lift lines, loading and unloading the chairlifts, and riding chairlifts. Physical distancing will be required in all lift lines, and only groups from the same party will be loaded on each chair. Single skiers will be seated on opposite sides of a quad to ensure adequate physical distancing and to keep the lift line moving relatively fast.
Deer Valley is asking all visitors to wear face coverings while visiting the resort and its properties. This includes waiting in lift lines, loading, riding, and unloading chairlifts, as well as interacting with Deer Valley employees. While making use of Deer Valley’s amenities, management is asking all guests to wear face coverings until they’ve been seated at a table and begin eating or drinking.
Deer Valley is not implementing a reservation system and will be providing walk-up lift ticket purchases for day passes. In short, Deer Valley will be operating as close to “normal” as possible, with the exception of face coverings required while on resort property. With the face covering requirement, Deer Valley is asking face coverings to be in accordance with Summit County’s Public Health Order; this means single-ply face masks, balaclavas, and masks with valves do not qualify as adequate face coverings.
Solitude ski resort, which is located about an hour away from Park City in Big Cottonwood Canyon, is allowing all season pass holders (Ikon and Solitude season passes) to proceed directly to the chairlift and begin loading upon arrival. Guests using single-day lift tickets are being asked to purchase lift tickets online and in advance, as Solitude will not be offering walk-up lift ticket purchasing this season. This is all in an effort to limit large gatherings at the base area.
In addition to these operational changes, resort management is asking all skiers to maintain basic physical distancing protocol, wear masks when physical distancing is not possible, and to wash and sanitize hands frequently. Solitude is also asking guests to avoid congregating in large groups on the mountain, inside buildings, and in the parking lot.
As of 10/23/2020, Brighton has yet to release a full COVID-19 action plan for the 2020/21 season. Updates will be posted to their website as the full plan is made public.
Snowbird is taking a slightly different approach than other ski resorts in the area. In order to disperse skiers across the resort during the early season when terrain is limited, Snowbird’s mountain operations team will be expanding snowmaking efforts to get more of the mountain open sooner. They will also be limiting the amount of day passes for sale to keep crowds to a minimum. What’s more, Snowbird will be implementing a parking reservation system for the 2020/21 season. The parking reservation system policy applies to both season pass holders and single-day visitors and will be managed through an app. The parking reservation system is designed to further limit traffic and keep crowds to a minimum.
If you’ve skied Snowbird in the past, then you’re undoubtedly familiar with the iconic tram. At this time, Snowbird is planning to operate the tram; however, tram capacity will be limited to just 25 guests at time. In addition to these guidelines, Snowbird is asking all visitors to adhere to Salt Lake County’s mask mandate—this includes wearing a face covering in buildings, lift lines, shuttle buses, and inside the tram. Snowbird is also screening employees daily for COVID-19 symptoms and installing plexiglass barriers wherever possible for an extra level of safety. To keep guests informed, Snowbird is posting regular coronavirus-related updates here.
Alta is asking all skiers to wear face coverings whenever social distancing is not possible. They will also be screening employees daily and increasing cleaning and disinfecting of hand rails, countertops, and other surfaces. As the majority of Alta ski area is subject to large, destructive avalanches, Alta will also be closely managing the amount of skiers that are allowed on the mountain based on current weather conditions, snowpack, and skiable terrain. Parking and indoor capacity will also be limited and offered on a first-come, first-serve basis to ensure adequate physical distancing is possible at the base area and on the mountain. To help visitors plan ahead, Alta will be posting road and parking status updates regularly on their road conditions page.
Here at Jans, we’re optimistic this season will be one of our best winters yet. In fact, it’s been inspiring to see the positive effect outdoor recreation can have during challenging times such as these over the course of this last summer and fall. We’re proud to continue offering skiers the equipment and services they need to recreate responsibly this winter and look forward to seeing you all (from 6 feet or more, of course) in any one of our locations and out on the slopes!