Photo courtesy Big White Ski Resort

Snow with the flow!

Skiing in British Columbia

  • Feb. 10, 2021 7:30 a.m.

– Story by Susan Quinn

Alpine resorts across British Columbia have re-tooled winter operations in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic that hit last year in the prime of the 2019-20 season.

This year, many resorts were poised to open on a solid snow season in early and mid-November when BC’s medical health officer temporarily put the brakes on non-essential travel, including travel for recreation. Operators are holding out hope that the travel restrictions will be lifted as the province “flattens the curve” on COVID-19.

“The adrenaline of opening day is a favourite part of the year for many of us, and admittedly, this year is especially significant,” wrote Christopher Nicolson in a November 2020 Canada West Ski Area Association newsletter. The CWSAA is considered the voice of the ski industry in western Canada.

“The ski season is no longer a concept or distant abstract viewed through a pandemic haze…it is here and we are in it.”

Nicolson said the industry “can legitimately feel confident” about the season ahead because of the collaboration of resorts to include COVID-19 protocols in their operations, minimizing risk to guests and staff alike. Resorts have posted their protocols on their individual websites. All—like other businesses in BC—require guests to wear face coverings, wash their hands, observe social distancing and not visit if they are feeling unwell.

The impact of ski areas in western Canada accounts for $2.51 billion annually to provincial and national economies, according to a 2018-19 valuation conducted by the CWSAA. More than 27,000 employees earned $1.12 billion in wages and benefits. Resorts were forced to close their doors last March as Canada’s federal government instituted emergency measures in the face of the pandemic. As they work to recover financially, operators have been quick to adjust to the swiftly changing landscape.

“We expect that we may need to make some revisions and adjustments, sometimes day to day, based on the recommendations of health authorities or as we find efficiencies, on an ongoing basis,” says Cypress Mountain president and general manager Russell Chamberlain. He called for patience, flexibility and understanding this year.

“We are all in this together.”

www.bigwhite.com

TRAIL

Red Mountain

Red Mountain is ready for guests. With COVID-19 protocols in place, the ski and snowboard experience may look a bit different this year.

Some of the changes include having a parking attendant in the parking lot, the removal of guest services’ indoor area and a move to solely outdoors. Visitors are asked to boot up before they get to the lodge, as indoor boot-up areas have been removed. With food services, staff recommends spreading out the time you want to eat to avoid a lunch rush. Online ordering and reservations will be available, and there will be outdoor seating in some areas.

Red Mountain opened in December.

redresort.com

CRANBROOK

Fernie and Kimberley Alpine Resorts are open for visitors.

Resorts of the Canadian Rockies suspended operations March 15 and cancelled the remainder of its 2019-20 winter season at all their western Canadian resorts shortly thereafter.

“Here at RCR our No. 1 priority is the safety, health and well-being of our guests, team members and the communities which we live,” president and Chief Resorts Officer John Shea said.

skircr.com

VANCOUVER ISLAND

Mount Washington Alpine Resort

“There has never been a time when I anticipated the arrival of a winter season more than this year,” Mount Washington Alpine Resort general manager Dean Prentice said. “The magic of winter—snow silently falling, the crisp winter air and the excitement of linking turns on every unique run is always special.”

He added: “This year it’s safe to say ‘special’ could be expanded to include therapeutic. In a sense, we need this ski season for our emotional and physical wellbeing as much as for the enjoyment. We believe recreation is one of the essential food groups—now more than ever.”

Embracing unexpected changes is going to be critical to a successful ski season, he added. Season’s pass holders will be given priority, and capacity will be managed by limiting the number of daily lift tickets, if necessary. An online advanced reservation system has been created in the event terrain is limited.

Mount Washington opened in December, with a base of both natural and man-made snow.

mountwashington.ca

Mount Cain

Mount Cain is playing its 2020-21 season cautiously. Accommodation bookings were being put on hold until mid-November. Opening day was tentatively scheduled for December 12, depending on snow and provincial travel recommendations.

The Mount Cain Alpine Park Society has its COVID-19 operating strategy in place. Check website for updates.

mountcain.com

whistlerblackcomb.com

Grouse Mountain

Grouse Mountain opened with limited terrain access on November 20. In addition to the requirement of face coverings inside all resort facilities, access will only be granted with advanced Skyride reservations. Visitors may reserve upload and download times as part of their lift ticket purchases or with the passholder Skyride reservations. Loading of individual chairlifts will be limited to family or household groupings.

grousemountain.com

Mount Seymour

Mt. Seymour has introduced staggered, reservable four-hour time slots on weekend and holidays for visitors with season’s passes or purchased lift tickets. This will help manage capacity while keeping to COVID-19 protocols.

All activities at Mt. Seymour will need to be booked and paid for in advance this year.

mtseymour.ca

Cypress Mountain

Cypress Mountain on Vancouver’s North Shore was the first coastal resort to open in 2020-21, opening their downhill area on November 13. Like other resorts, its plan is to ease into operations as conditions dictate. Lift tickets and tickets to the Gnarly Tube Park need to be purchased in advance.

cypressmountain.com

This story originally appeared in SOAR, the inflight magazine for Pacific Coastal Airlines.

British ColumbiaLifestyleskiing

Just Posted

Bentley resting on a bench at Kal Park in Vernon not knowing there is a baby rattlesnake curled up below. Bentley jumped down and was bit by the snake. (Facebook)
Dog bit by baby rattler at popular Vernon park

The rattlesnake was hidden underneath a park bench when it struck out

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

(Heather Lueck image)
Crash north of Enderby knocks out power, slows Highway 97A traffic

A witness captured footage of a medical helicopter landing at the scene

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Million-dollar lotto ticket sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

Carina Stokes, bar manager at Enderby’s Small Axe Bistro, was recognized as one of four exceptional B.C. restaurant workers by the British Columbia Restaurant and Foodservices Association Tuesday, June 8, 2021. (Contributed)
Enderby bar manager recognized as ‘stand-up’ B.C. restaurant worker

Small Axe Roadhouse’s Carina Stokes one of four to receive special recognition from the BCRFA

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Longtime SOWINS volunteer Diane Fru (far left) walks with members of her family as they Walk To End Abuse Sunday, June 13, 2021. South Okanagan Women In Needs Society (SOWINS) raised a record amount this year. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Walk to End Abuse in South Okanagan breaks fundraising record

More than $53,000 raised so far while the pandemic has increased need for SOWINS’ services

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Most Read