With the light coating of snow we received this week, it was the incentive for skiers and snowboarders to get their gear in shape for the skiing/boarding/riding season.
However, with the coronavirus problem, snow lovers will have to adjust to new rules and procedures for the season. For one, Bear Creek Resort outside of Macungie has turned to all-online ticket sales and passes that will be for date-specific use according to Arialle Hess, Bear Creek Marketing Manager. The purpose is to control the number of guests. In addition, the resort is asking guests to leave their extra gear in their car instead of in the lodge. And of course, masks and social distancing is needed while in the lodges and elsewhere. In addition, guests must complete ski/board rentals and sign waivers on-line through the resorts new app.
Hess mentioned that they are adding food trucks for guests to have food outside in an added effort to maintain social distancing.
As for any changes or additions to the mountain itself, Hess said they extended their tubing run to the top of the tubing slope for a more exciting run down the mountain.
Up at Blue Mountain Resort in Palmerton, they too have incorporated Covid precautions in several ways, and implemented them yesterday their first day of operation.
According to Ashley Seier, marketing manager, a limited number of tickets will be available to purchase online and in advance of your arrival. The resort doesn’t expect walk-up tickets to be available during the winter season. Some single day tickets may be available for same-day purchase online, however those quantities are limited.
Blue Mountain plans to offer off-hill activities including Hike N Tube, Plunge, Aquatic Centre, Woodview Mountaintop Skating and Snowshoeing. Seier notes that these activities are subject to health mandates and are weather and conditions permitting.
Seier added that they plan to offer night skiing for the 2020-21 season and is scheduled to start Thursday, December 17, 2020, of course weather conditions permitting.
To manage on-hill capacity, priority access will be given to Season Passholders (Ikon, Ikon Base and 5x7) and guests that have purchased a lift ticket online, in advance. And not unexpectedly, face masks and coverings are required while in the lift line and on the chairlifts. Blue Mountain also recommends guests wear a face mask/covering while on-hill.
Prior to the opener, and on 6-person chairlifts, family, or social bubbles can load together on the same chair. On 4-person and triple chairs, family or social bubbles will be loaded together. In all other instances, 4-person and triple chairlifts will load with one rider. Guests will also be sorted to ensure adequate distancing on chairs. Plus, lift loading procedures will be subject to Public Health legislation and may change without notice.
Seier said that when they open, they’ll open as many runs as they can. Typically, that includes the Silver Bullet chair first, along with one of the Magic Carpet beginner areas, Memory Lane, Tranquility and Smart Alec that are always the first top-to-bottom trails to open. Depending on conditions, Blue might have all three open, or perhaps only one or two.
Bear Creek is hoping to open Dec. 21. And according to channel 69 News Weather, we may get some appreciable snow on Wednesday, Dec. 16.
Otherwise, all we need is colder weather so the resorts can make lots of snow with any real snow adding an extra touch of white over the mountain resorts.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.