Skiing and Snowboarding in Lake Tahoe with the current Covid-19 restrictions is a LOT different, but it can also be a lot of fun if you know what to expect and plan accordingly.
The Point Equity office is staffed with some pretty serious skiers and snowboarders who’ve already made multiple early-season trips up the hill. We’d like to share what we’ve been talking about around the water cooler, and tell you how to make the most of your day on the slopes.
1. Be Prepared to Wear a Mask Everywhere
From the time you lock up your car in the morning to the time you leave, be prepared to wear a mask. This is especially true anywhere around the base areas where it can get crowded, and it’s definitely true anytime you’re indoors, waiting in line, or riding a lift with someone outside of your party.
The resorts are very strict about their mask policies. Boreal and Sugar Bowl have even implemented a 3 Strike Rule, where you can lose your pass for the remainder of the season for repeated violations of their mask policies.
If you’re charging down a difficult run and you need to pull down your mask in order to breathe, however, we believe you should be allowed to do so as long as you’re maintaining proper physical distancing, but don’t be surprised if you reach the bottom of the run and a lift operator tells you to “mask up” before getting in the lift line. (Please be respectful of these lifties, because they probably don’t like telling you to “mask up” as much as you don’t like being told to.)
Also, If you’re in a designated dining area and you’re actively eating or drinking, you're not required to wear a mask.
2. Get your Tickets Online Ahead of Time, or Make Reservations
Resorts are controlling the number of skiers and snowboards on a given day by limiting ticket sales in advance or requiring season pass holders to make reservations. Make sure you get to ski on the day you want by purchasing your tickets online early, or making your reservations if required.
Season Passholder Reservations required: Heavenly, Kirkwood, Northstar
NO Season Passholder Reservations required: Alpine Meadows, Homewood, Royal Gorge, Soda Springs, Squaw Valley
Pre-Purchase Tickets Required: Alpine Meadows, Boreal, Diamond Peak, Heavenly, Homewood, Kirkwood, Northstar, Sugar Bowl, Squaw Valley, Soda Springs,
Day-of tickets available at: Mt. Rose, Sierra at Tahoe, Granlibakin
*Note about reservations: if you have the Epic Pass to Heavenly, Kirkwood and Northstar, you can make reservations up to 7 days in advance on a rolling 7-day period; At 12 o’clock midnight, the next day in the 7 day period comes available.
**Note about renting equipment: if you’re renting equipment, make sure the resort’s rental department is open, because some places like Mr. Rose are not renting equipment this season.
3. Plan To Eat and Drink Outside
Indoor dining areas like cafeterias and restaurants are either closed or very restricted, to the point that you shouldn’t plan on being able to eat indoors. Most resorts are limiting their food services to “Grab ‘N Go” items only, meaning you can purchase food and beverages in the café but you’ll have to eat outside in designated dining areas.
All of the bars are closed at every resort, unfortunately. This will come as a real disappointment to a lot of us who really look forward to our apré ski drinks. However, you can still buy beers and cocktails, you just have to drink them outside.
4. Access to the Lodge and Amenities are Very Limited
Some of the regular amenities that you may rely on for a successful ski trip might not be available this season. Day-use lockers, for example, are not available at Mt. Rose, Diamond Peak and Royal Gorge. Water fountains are turned off across Northstar and the Vail resorts. At Mt. Rose you need a valid lift ticket to even access the lodge.
Group gatherings inside the lodges are not permitted. If it’s a cold day on the mountains, places like Sierra-at-Tahoe say that they’ll let you inside to warm up, but they encourage you not to stay too long.
Plan to use the lodges for the restrooms, and that’s about it.
5. Your Car is Your New Base Camp
Given that the lodges are mostly closed and indoor dining probably isn’t available, you should treat your car as your new base camp. If it’s a stormy day and it’s too cold to eat outside, the resorts still won’t let you inside to eat. You have to be prepared to use your car for shelter.
Make a plan to meet your crew back at the car for lunch, or at a predetermined time at the end of the day. Pack your food, drinks, and whatever else you think you'll need for the day since might not get a locker.
We've seen some people really make the most of the new car-is-your-new-basecamp situation by setting up tents, kicking back in lawn chairs and playing music. You might as well make the most of it, so bring a boom box and why not a barbeque?
Whatever you do, bring water for the drive home. (one thirsty snowboarder writing this article learned the hard way)