Snow at a Distance

How local ski resorts have summited the slippery slopes of the pandemic


Art by Ria Maisano-Torres

For many snow lovers, the ski slopes are a place of escape from the constant bustle of daily life. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these periods of respite are especially important for the physical and mental health of all. The ski and snowboard season will look a little different this year, but the trails are still there. 

Early snowfall during the month of November has created ideal base conditions for resorts across Washington, including Mt. Baker and Crystal Mountain. At Mt. Baker, the resort has chosen not to offer instruction or rentals at this time due to concerns about physical proximity and shared equipment. Season pass sales also have come to an end in early November because of restricted staffing and unclear operation requirements. 

At Crystal Mountain Resort, walk-up ticket sales will not be permitted, but equipment rentals and lessons will be made available to those with reservations. Because social distancing indoors for food and lodging is not an option, plexiglass dividers have been installed, and chair lifts and gondolas will be filled only with members of the same unit. Additionally, the lifts and high-touch surfaces will be sanitized frequently throughout the day, with deep cleaning overnight. 

The Summit at Snoqualmie, the closest resort to Seattle, will open for its season on December 4th with reduced hours to accommodate with COVID-19 guidelines. The resort will take precautions such as requiring face masks at all times, social distancing measured by board and ski lengths, reduced capacity, and moving to strictly online purchasing. Food and beverage services at all three resorts are very limited right and are not serving alcohol. All conditions are subject to change as the season goes on and advancements are made. 

Summit, Baker, and Crystal have asked their patrons to approach their ski and snowboarding days with caution, making sure to check the conditions of your health and the snow before you head up to the mountains.