Last year's ski season ended abruptly in mid-March when COVID cases began to rise throughout Oregon. For awhile, I wasn't sure there would even be a ski season in 2021. But as snow covered the mountains in mid November, I was happy to see the local ski resorts begin to announce their reopening plans.
|Beautiful morning on the mountain!|
In December I made three trips to two local ski resorts. It was great to be out enjoying the snowy mountains. In January, although the Thursday ski bus was cancelled (I wouldn't have ridden it anyway) one of my friends and I decided to drive up ourselves every week.
|Mt Hood emerging from the clouds|
Of course with the pandemic still very much active, resort skiing in the time of COVID has been a bit different. But since most snowriders normally cover up most of their bodies to participate, it's much easier to be protected than with other activities.
|Yes, we are smiling for the camera|
The biggest adjustment? Keeping my nose covered. The resorts now require all guests to keep their nose and mouth covered when in lift lines and riding the chairlift. I've always worn a neck gaiter pulled up over my mouth when skiing, mostly to keep my neck and chin warm. But now I've had to tuck the gaiter under my goggles to cover both nose and mouth. And this causes my glasses to fog under the goggles. It's been a lot of trial and error to find ways to keep things defogged. I haven't yet found the silver bullet.
The upside to keeping my face fully covered? No need for sunscreen anymore! Although, it does make for some interesting selfies. (Yes my friend and I are smiling under our masks!)
And on those chilly days it is much warmer to have my entire face covered. (If I could only solve the darn fogging problem.....)
|Glen tries the ski jump!|
Besides the face covering requirement, the other big change is not being able to go indoors. My local ski resort has kept the lodges open for restroom access only. So that has meant eating lunch and warming up must be done in the car.
|Good mountain views everywhere|
Luckily the first few days I've skied the weather has been nice enough
to sit outside for lunch. Instead of the lodge being packed, the
parking lot is now full of people at noontime. And people have gotten creative with their lunch menus. I've witnessed someone using a camp
stove behind their car to warm chili, a grill or two cooking burgers and hot dogs, and
even one party who unloaded table, chairs, fancy tablecloth, and set up a
full spread of wine, meat, and cheese.
Of course not everyone is happy with the mask mandate, and my local ski resort has had to get tough with people who don't comply. I feel sorry for the lifties who are stuck with the thankless job of having to remind folks to pull up their masks in the lift line. A virus outbreak would shut down the resort so I'm appreciative of everything the employees are doing to keep people safe. (Not to mention I don't want to get COVID!)
|Admiring late afternoon light on the mountain|
The other change for the resorts is they are no longer filling up each chair on the lift. If you want to ride by yourself, it's allowed. You can ride the lift with the people in your party but if the chair isn't full you won't be asked to take on additional singles. That does make the lines move slower, especially during busy weekend days. But since I'm now retired I can ski on the weekdays. There's a lot less people than the weekends and lift lines are normally short or nonexistent.
|Skiing towards Shooting Star lift|
To limit the number of people on the slopes at one time, some ski areas are limiting day ticket sales. One has to purchase their lift ticket in advance. Others require a pass to park at the resort. So skiing is no longer a spur of the moment activity - it now takes a bit of planning. Luckily at my local ski hill, season pass holders (like me!) are not required to make reservations for tickets or parking. And on weekdays, crowds haven't been a problem.
|Views from the Cascade lift|
Since January began, I've averaged at least one day a week of skiing. It's so wonderful to be back playing in the snow and gazing at views of our beautiful home mountain.
Mt Hood I've missed your snowy slopes!
|Interesting clouds over Mt Hood|
Despite the changes, I'm happy to be back skiing at my local resort. In my opinion, covering the nose and mouth, eating
in my car, and waiting a little bit longer to ride the lift are small prices to
pay for having a ski season this year.