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The ski season will look and feel different this year. Your BC ski holiday definitely will still bring the exhilaration of fresh snow, fresh air, and run after run through wide-open spaces in our winter backyard. But there also are new considerations to keep in mind, from online lift-ticket purchases and new on-mountain safety protocols to bubble-friendly accommodations and responsible dining options. Here are 12 tips to help you plan a successful—and safe—BC ski getaway this season.
British Columbia’s 13 ski resorts each have their own specific policies for the coming winter. Whistler Blackcomb, for example, requires advance reservations. Big White’s ticketing will be cashless and online, with physical pick-up at dispensing kiosks in the resort. Whichever destination you choose, be sure to go online well in advance to note lift ticket booking procedures, cancellation polices, and safety precautions. In most cases, pre-purchase of lift tickets is key, because resorts generally will be managing capacity by capping the number of skiers and boarders who can access the mountain each day. Bonus: Many resorts also offer discounts when you purchase tickets in advance.
This is the winter to explore your own backyard, and who better to rediscover a beloved mountain with (or find a new favourite) than your tight-knit skiing or snowboarding crew? Keep your numbers manageable: The smaller the group, the easier it is to practise physical distancing while minimizing health risks and impacts on the destination.
Sure, wearing your buff is second nature, but make sure it’s at the ready for lineups, chairlift rides, wanders around the resort, and stepping into day lodges, cafes, and shops.
You’ve got your mask or buff—and that’s great—but be mindful when navigating lift lines, heading into restaurants, etc. Give others a wide berth, like you would when soaring down the mountain.
Ski resorts are modifying on-mountain menus, limiting indoor dining and planning for more al fresco seating. For example, at Sun Peaks, you’ll see more grab-and-go items and increased outdoor seating options, while Fernie and Kicking Horse promise pop-up spaces that prove local beer really does taste best in the great outdoors.
Dress warmly, or pack an extra layer. Consider getting lunch to go, then finding a comfy outdoor picnic spot, enjoying the fresh air while you eat, and packing out your trash. Or, consider taking a midday break back at your lodgings or in your car to warm up and refuel.
Check with your mountain of choice for protocols. Expect reduced group sizes for lessons and camps. The upside? Smaller groups mean more room to move, and even more attention from your instructor. (You’ll be hotdogging in no time.)
Rental shops are modifying the gear rental experience to increase safety for all involved. Some rental operators are offering door-to-door touchless delivery within resorts. If you need to rent gear, research in advance where you’ll rent it, then book ahead and fill out waivers online to minimize touch points. Bonus: You’ll hit the slopes sooner!
With lift tickets pre-purchased (where required), look for lodgings with amenities that will make it easy and fun to stay in your bubble, like full kitchens, ski-in/ski-out access, or private hot tubs. Ask the concierge or reservation agent in advance about options for curb-side meal pickups in resort, or grocery delivery right to your room.
Try fat biking and snowshoeing to snowy cabins for chocolate rewards. Go tubing with your crew or head out for a group skate on an outdoor rink. Check out what each resort has to offer and pay close attention to protocols and safety requirements.
BC’s mountain resorts are welcoming visiting skiers and boarders with open arms while also balancing the need to keep their mountain communities safe. Keep respectful distances and adhere to the requests of individual businesses. You’re in other skiers’ and boarders’ playgrounds, so play nice.
You know the drill. Stay home if you are feeling unwell; practise physical distancing and frequent handwashing hygiene; and wear a mask if you are unable to keep a safe distance from those outside your bubble group. Continue to be conscious of your impact—on locals and other visitors alike.
Header image: Whistler Blackcomb | Randy Lincks