Will Covid change the way we ski in Mt Washington Valley? Updates from ski resorts


North Conway, NH – As the calendar turns from October to November, all eyes start to focus on skiing in Mt Washington Valley. Snowmaking equipment has been tested and snow operations teams are poised to get started once the temps turn cold enough. Added to the planning this year is a whole new regime of safety precautions being taken to address the Coronavirus pandemic.

All of Mt Washington Valley’s 13 ski resorts and XC Centers are working diligently with either Ski New Hampshire and/or the National Ski Areas Association to help develop and follow guidelines for skier safety. In addition, members of the Valley’s ski resort have been working with the state to help advise and devise guidelines for ski area safety too. It’s clear that the well-being of skiers and riders is paramount on the minds of ski resort and XC Center operators as we head into the winter.

Some of the universal changes taking place at all resorts include:

Social Distancing – Since there’s plenty of open space on the trails, keeping distance between skiers and riders is doable. However, expect changes to occur in lift lines. Many ski resorts will allow skiers to ride the lifts only with those with whom they came. Single skiers/riders will ride alone in most cases.

Purchase tickets before you go: All Mt Washington Valley’s ski resorts will encourage online purchase of lift tickets to avoid lines. Some will require it. Attitash and Wildcat will require reservations. Ticket sales outlets can be found at each resort/XC Center’s website.

Limited access to ski lodges – get ready in your car: Most ski resorts and XC Centers will limit access to the base lodges, meaning no boot bags or lunches can be left for the day. Access to restrooms and food will most likely be via outside entrances or direct access to avoid crowds in base lodges. Food service will vary from resort to resort, but for the most part, plan to boot up in your car and bring only those essentials that you’ll need with you for the day. The number of people allowed in lodges may be limited.

Face coverings required: All ski resorts and XC Centers will require face coverings to be worn in lift lines and while loading/unloading on the lifts, and inside lodges in restrooms, etc. In short, any time a six-foot distance can’t be achieved face coverings will be required.

Sanitization: Enhanced and increased cleaning protocols for all high-traffic and high-touch areas will be implemented at all resorts. Look for new hand sanitizing stations, Plexiglass or other types of barriers/hygiene screens in frequent, close interaction areas wherever practical for the safety of our guests and staff.

Stay home if you’re not well: If you’ve been exposed to anyone with Covid-19 or are feeling sick at all, please plan to stay home. You’ll be welcomed back later in the season when you’re feeling better.

What’s New & different at Mt Washington Valley’s Ski Resorts?

At Bretton Woods:

The new 16,000 square foot Rosebrook Lodge is perched atop the slopes of Bretton Woods, providing enhanced skier services, multiple dining options and the stunning Crystal Hills event venue, all serviced by the Bretton Woods 8-passenger gondola. With mountain décor complementing the natural surroundings, this year-round facility boasts stunning mountain views of New England’s highest peaks with wall length windows and expansive outdoor decks. Rosebrook Lodge is now open seasonally.

Lift tickets will be limited on a daily basis to ensure social distancing can be achieved. It’s strongly recommended that you purchase your Bretton Woods lift tickets online BEFORE visiting the resort to ensure you are able to ski or ride on your preferred days. A ticket purchased online is considered your "reservation" for that day. Online ticket sales will be available soon.

The Bretton Woods Canopy Tour will remain closed for the winter season to help avoid close contact among users and guides. In addition, the Slopeside Climbing Wall and Kid’s Snowmobile Park will not open this season. Fat biking will be allowed on designated trails and the rental fleet of fat bikes are being expanded.

For complete COVID-19-operations guidelines, click here.

At Cranmore Mountain Resort:

Season Passholders will have priority status at the resort with no restrictions at the start of the season (this could change if necessary). This season all lift tickets must be purchased online and in advance at book.cranmore.com. There will be no sales onsite at the ticket office. Ticket dates can be adjusted up to 72 hours the before original arrival date. Inside the 72 hour window, ticket purchases are final. To start the season, Cranmore will be reducing the number of lift tickets available on any given day to allow for appropriate social distancing, and to enhance the experience while on the mountain.

The Tubing and Mountain Adventure Park will be available this winter and will be available in 2-hour time blocks. All tickets must be purchased online, prior to arrival, and are based strictly on availability as we will be reducing park capacity to allow for proper physical distancing. Face coverings will be required while in the tubing park and on all Mountain Adventure Park attractions.

For a complete overview of operations for the 2020-21 ski season, click here.

At King Pine:

In addition to off-season capital projects focused on upgrades to lift drive systems and maintenance, plus rebuilding a central snowmaking pump, expect some changes in hours of operation at King Pine this winter. Lifts will be running every day until 6:00pm. Midweek (non-holiday) lifts will start at 9:00am and weekends/holiday periods lifts will start running at 8:30 am. That means King Pine will not be open until 9:00pm on Tuesdays, Friday and weekends/holiday periods as it has been in prior seasons, but instead will extend hours to 6:00pm every evening. Snowtubing hours will be Fridays (Non-Holiday) 3:00pm -6:00pm. Saturday-Sunday and holiday periods 10:00am -6:00pm.

For complete COVID-19 operations at King Pine, please click here.

At Attitash and Wildcat

Both Attitash and Wildcat are owned by Vail Resorts, and will be following the Vail corporate reservation system . All skiers and riders will be required to make a reservation before arriving at the mountain, including passholders and day ticket holders. The early season will be reserved for pass holders only. Vail Resorts states they will not sell day-lift tickets until Dec. 8, 2020. Day lift tickets will be limited based on the number of spaces available for any given day after the exclusive pass holder reservation period. Day lift tickets will only be sold on the ski resorts’ websites and through Vail’s call centers. No lift tickets will be sold at the ticket window in resort – expect to only pickup pre-purchased lift ticket at the resort’s onsite ticket windows, thus a reservation to ski will be required. To learn more, click here.

At Shawnee Peak:

A new pizza deck is now complete, and the pizza station is in-place. Half of the deck off of Blizzards will now be covered too. Shawnee Peak has added additional new outdoor seating throughout the base area, including more picnic tables and Adirondack chairs with outdoor heaters as well as an outdoor beer garden and additional food and beverage options “to-go.” There’s a new emphasis on touchless across the base area. Additionally, the ski school building has doubled in size with an added drop off parking zone for parents to drop off their children before lessons. The rental shop has also doubled in size. Guests are highly encouraged to pre-register for rental equipment, so they can “grab and go.” On-hill, we have placed new HKD SV-10’s on Happiness Slope. Purchasing tickets and lessons online, ahead of time, will be a key focus. There will be two pick-up boxes where skiers and riders can scan a confirmation email to pick up tickets or season passes.

All of Mt Washington Valley’s XC Centers will be following the Ski NH/State of NH Ski Area guidelines throughout the 2020-21 ski season with special focus on social distancing, masks, and expanded cleanliness protocols. At Great Glen Trails, the "trail pass" will be separated from the tubing hill. The trail pass will cover skiing, snowshoeing and fatbiking. Tubing will be separated into two sessions (9-12 and 1-4) and be handled by reservation only. Fifty tubes will be allowed per session. Visit each of the XC Centers websites for individual Covid-19 procedures.

To learn more about skiing and winter recreation in Mt Washington Valley, visit www.MtWashingtonValley.org. To learn more about winter getaways to New Hampshire, go to www.VisitNH.gov.

Photos courtesy of Bretton Woods Ski Resort, Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center and Wildcat Mountain.

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