The Ultimate Guide to PNW Skiing During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Dig out your steeziest onesies, your favorite beanies, and your stoke because it's about to be ski season, and if you're like me, you're SO here for it.

Not going to lie, I was a little nervous about what the season would mean this year, or if we were going to have one at all after the slopes closed early this spring. BUT the Norse God of Skiing heard our prayers (and the resorts planned all summer) to bring us the unhinged happiness that comes with shredding the slopes (with a few COVID precautions, of course). That said, the mountains are going to look a little different this year, so here's your guide to all things PNW skiing for the 2020-2021 season.


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Are the Mountains Safe?

The answer is yes! If you stick to the slopes and avoid the lodges, you're outside with constant airflow, you're likely already wearing goggles, gloves, and a buff, and you're on a massive mountain (and it takes some serious effort to ski within six feet of other people). In my personal opinion, it's one of the safest winter activities out there. The FIS (International Ski Federation) created a set of guidelines for the resorts to follow, but each has the freedom to tailor those guidelines to their own unique situations, which includes limiting chairlifts to households and limiting mountain capacities, often in the form of reservations, which we'll cover in more detail below.



Should I Take any Extra Precautions?

Yes! It's good to stay COVID conscious no matter the activity but here are some ways to practice COVID-safe shredding on the mountain.

  • Always wear a ski mask or buff. It even keeps you warm, so that's a win, win, if you ask me!

  • Try to keep a safe and respectable distance between you and your other chairlift line buddies.

  • Avoid hanging out in enclosed spaces like the lodges if possible.

  • Keep a little bottle of hand sanny in your pocket.

  • Bring your lunch for outdoor dining (take advantage of the resorts' outdoor fireplaces).


The FIS (International Ski Federation) Rules of Conduct's

10 Things You Should Always Practice on the Slopes


  1. Behave in such a way that does not endanger others.

  2. Move in control and adapt speed to personal ability and terrain, snow and weather as well as to the density of traffic.

  3. If coming from behind choose a route so as not endanger people ahead.

  4. Provide enough space when overtaking.

  5. When setting off look up and down the slopes.

  6. Unless absolutely necessary, avoid stopping on the slope in narrow places or where visibility is restricted.

  7. When either climbing or descending on foot keep to the side of the slope.

  8. Respect all signs and markings.

  9. At accidents be duty bound to assist.

  10. Whether a responsible party or not, you must exchange names and addresses following an accident.


Gear List

  • A dope a** onesie. No joke, this vintage onesie changed my life. I stay dry and cozy ALL day. If you're in Seattle, swing by the Fremont market for tons of affordable, steezy options. Perfect for pow days!

  • Patagonia Snowbelle Jacket for when I'm not in a onesie mood. I wear this on rainy or icy days when I need its H2No Performance protection from the elements. Vintage onesies don't have the advanced tech of newer jackets for harsh conditions.

  • Ski pants: Waterproofing and warmth are the two most important things to look for in a pair of ski pants. Mine are from 686. Here's a Backcountry guide to choosing your perfect pair.

Patagonia Snowbelle Jacket

  • Smart wool base layer. These help to regulate your temperature during any winter activity. This one even has odor neutralizing tech! I love the quarter zips so I can give my neck a little breathing room when I get too hot (which is often).

  • Fleece-lined leggings. These don't have to be anything fancy. Just an extra layer to keep your legs warm. I like the CRZ fleece-lined leggings – just $29 on Amazon!

  • Waterproof gloves. If you live in the PNW, waterproofing is SO important. We get a lot of sopping wet, rainy days on the slopes. Staying dry is vital! I just upgraded to these babies for the 2020-2021 season.

  • Comfy socks. Invest in a pair of bright, steezy snowboarding socks that will keep your toes toasty warm all day long.

  • A helmet! Not gonnna lie, I learned to snowboard helmetless and it was SO DUMB! I had way too many close calls because falling is a built-in part of the sport, especially when you first start out. Highly recommend one with built-in headphones. I built a snowboarding playlist that I listen to religiously on the slopes. Check it out here if you're interested!

  • A buff. Not only does this prevent wind chill and keep your face toasty warm, but it doubles as a face covering for COVID.

  • Goggles. These are so, so important for good vision in even the worst conditions. Here's a great article on some of the best new goggles for 2020.

  • Handwarmers

  • Heavy duty chapstick

  • A backpack or a fanny pack. I'm rocking this Cotopaxi Fanny Pack this year! It's big enough for my important cards (ID and credit card) and a flask :)

  • And your skis or snowboard and boots, of course! There's a lot that goes into picking the right one for you, so I recommend seeing a specialist at any outdoor sporting goods store to get fitted.





Washington


Mt. Baker

  • Estimated Opening Day: 11/11/2020

  • Daily Operations: Open 7 days a week

  • Reservations: Not required at this time. However, a reservation system may be implemented in the future. If this does happen, season pass holders will be given 51% of the reservations for any given day. Pass holders with a confirmed online reservation will need to activate their reservation at the ticket office and get a daily lift ticket (free) for that day in order to access the lifts.

  • Daily Lift Tickets:  If there is a reservation system for lift access in place on a given day, visitors will be required to reserve online, and then visitors with a confirmed online reservation will need to activate their reservation at the ticket office and get a daily lift ticket for that day in order to access the lifts.

  • Season passes are available here now.

  • Parking: Currently free for daily lift ticket and season pass holders. Paid parking might be implemented. Overnight Parking will be limited and by reservation only. 

  • Lodges will see a 70% decrease in seating availability.

  • Food: Revised menus are more Grab-n-Go friendly.

  • Rentals: Reduced capacity inside rental shop. Reservations might be required.

  • Lessons: Limited capacity. Online reservations required.


Turn it into a weekend trip by spending a night at one of these 7 Cozy Cabins to Cuddle Up to This Winter!



Steven's Pass

Now owned by Vail Resorts, Steven's Pass (and Whistler) will follow the same COVID guidelines as all of Vail's 34 resorts. This includes reservations. If you'll be frequenting Steven's, I'd suggest purchasing an Epic Pass by November 6, which allows priority access to all of Vail Resorts' 34 mountains and an exclusive reservation period before dates open up to the public.

  • Estimated Opening Day: 12/4/2020

  • Daily Operations: TBD

  • Face Coverings: Required.

  • Reservations: Required. Season Pass holders get registration priority.

  • Season Pass: Available now. Purchase before November 6 for priority registration of up to 7 days. As pass holders use their days, they can add more registered days to maintain 7 registered days, or however many their pass allows. Epic Pass compatible.

  • Daily Lift Tickets:  Daily lift tickets go on sale on December 8 (in the form of a reservation). All reservations must be made online for a specific resort on a specific date. You will be able to make a reservation for any of Vail Resorts' 34 mountains. Your reservation is your ticket. There will be no in-person ticket sales.

  • Chairlifts: Only related parties or guests traveling together will be seated together on lifts. If there are singles or doubles, necessary distancing will be implemented.

  • Parking: Free

  • Lodges: Limited capacity

  • Food: Revised menus are more Grab-n-Go friendly and one-way lines will keep traffic moving.

  • Rentals: Reduced capacity inside rental shop.

  • Lessons: Limited capacity. Maximum of six people per class. Lessons need to be purchased in advance. A lift ticket is included with ski school reservations.

  • All employees are required to undergo health screenings before arriving at work.




Summit at Snoqualmie

  • Estimated Opening Day: TBD

  • Daily Operations: TBD

  • Face Coverings: Required where social distancing isn't possible.

  • Reservations: None.

  • Season Pass: Paused. Check back here for updates.

  • Daily Lift Tickets: Sold at limited capacity. Online purchase is recommended but they're also available on the mountain.

  • Chairlifts: No available information.

  • Parking: Free

  • Lodges: Limited capacity

  • Food: No available information.

  • Rentals: Limited and must be reserved in advance.

  • Lessons: Limited capacity in compliance with state regulations.

  • All employees are required to undergo health screenings before arriving at work.





Crystal Mountain

  • Estimated Opening Day: 11/20/2020

  • Daily Operations: TBD

  • Reservations: None.

  • Face Coverings: Required mountain-wide.

  • Season Pass: Available now. Ikon Pass partners, which gets you to up to 44 destinations worldwide.

  • Daily Lift Tickets: Will go on sale in November. Limited quantities available. Purchasing online and in advance is required. No walk-up sales this season.

  • Chairlifts: Only related parties or guests traveling together will be seated together on lifts. If there are singles or doubles, necessary distancing will be implemented.

  • Parking: Free

  • Lodges: Will operate at 50% capacity.

  • Food: Information not yet available.

  • Rentals: Reduced capacity inside rental shop.

  • Lessons: Information not yet available.


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White Pass

  • Estimated Opening Day: 11/28/2020

  • Daily Operations: TBD

  • Reservations: None.

  • Face Coverings: Required mountain-wide.

  • Season Pass: Available now. Powder Alliance member, which gets you 3 days free at 18 resorts around the PNW and the world.

  • Daily Lift Tickets: Will go on sale in November. Limited quantities available. Purchasing online and in advance is required. No walk-up sales this season.

  • Chairlifts: Not regulated, but encouraged to ride with those you came up with. Single riders are okay.

  • Parking: Free

  • Lodges: Will operate at 50% capacity.

  • Food: Reservations required on busy days. On-site reservations only.

  • Rentals: Limited capacity on busy days.

  • Lessons: Available but the plan is still under development.





Oregon


Photo by Mark Schindler

Mt. Hood Meadows

  • Estimated Opening Day: 11/28/2020

  • Daily Operations: TBD

  • Reservations: Required. Purchase online for a specific date and redeem at a walk-up window.

  • Face Coverings: Required where social distancing isn't possible.

  • Season Pass: Available now.

  • Daily Lift Tickets: Will go on sale in November. Limited quantities available. Purchasing online and in advance is required. No walk-up sales this season.

  • Chairlifts: Encouraged to ride with those you came up with. Single riders are okay.

  • Parking: Free.

  • Lodges: Socially distanced seating available.

  • Food: Grab-n-go options available and encouraged but full service dining will also be available.

  • Rentals: Available. Advanced reservations and payment required.

  • Lessons: Half days available.. Must be purchased in advance. Limited capacity. Health screening required.




Mt. Bachelor

  • Estimated Opening Day: 12/7/2020

  • Reservations: None. Only for parking.

  • Face Coverings: Required mountain-wide.

  • Season Pass: Available now. Ikon Pass members.

  • Daily Lift Tickets: Available now. No capacity limitations. Purchase oneline and retrieve your One Pass RFID card at the ticket window. If you already hae an RFID card, reload it online to head straight to the chairlift.

  • Chairlifts: Encouraged to ride with those you came up with. Single riders are okay.

  • Parking: Online reservation system for parking only.

  • Lodges: Limited occupancy. Reserved for quick warmups and restroom access.

  • Food: Limited services. Additional outdoor food services will be provided.

  • Rentals: Available. Advanced reservations required.

  • Lessons: Half days available with age restrictions.




Mt. Hood – Timberline

  • Estimated Opening Day: 11/28/2020

  • Reservations: Online advanced reservations will be required. The process will include a mandatory COVID questionnaire. Details to be released at a later time. Capacity management will likely be instated during holidays and peak days. Reservation inventory will be divided between pass holders and day lift ticket purchases.

  • Face Coverings: Required mountain-wide.

  • Season Pass: Available October 25.

  • Daily Lift Tickets: Available now. No capacity limitations. Purchase oneline and retrieve your One Pass RFID card at the ticket window. If you already hae an RFID card, reload it online to head straight to the chairlift.

  • Chairlifts: The entire area will be served by four fast chairs to balance skiers and riders on the hill.

  • Parking: Free.

  • Lodges: Modified. No additional information at this time.

  • Food: Modified. No additional information at this time.

  • Rentals: Available. Social distancing protocols to be determined.

  • Lessons: Private lessons only.

  • Shuttle: Not available at the beginning of the season.



Idaho



Sun Valley

  • Estimated Opening Day: 11/21/2020

  • Reservations: No available information.

  • Face Coverings: No available information.

  • Season Pass: Available now. Epic Pass members.

  • Daily Lift Tickets: No available information.

  • Chairlifts: No available information.

  • Parking: No reported changes.

  • Lodges: No reported changes.

  • Food: No reported changes.

  • Rentals: No reported changes.

  • Lessons: No reported changes.




Photo by TheKarenD

Schweitzer

  • Estimated Opening Day: 11/27/2020

  • Reservations: No available information.

  • Face Coverings: Required indoors. May be required to do contactless temperature scans.

  • Season Pass: Available now. Currently no capacity limitations.

  • Daily Lift Tickets: Will go on sale November 9 with limited quantities available.

  • Chairlifts: No available information.

  • Parking: Limited.

  • Shuttle: Free 7 days a week. Park at the Red Barn Park & Ride. View schedule here.

  • Lodges: Limited capacity and social distancing efforts. Temperature checks at points of entry.

  • Food: Schweitzer employees will be adhering to procedures recommended by the state of Idaho and Panhandle Health District with regard to workplace safety and food handling.

  • Rentals: No reported changes.

  • Lessons: Business as usual. Book online or by phone after November 15.

  • All employees will participate in completing the Daily Worksite Health Questionnaire that includes a temperature check.




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