The chairs at Timberline Lodge spun again this week for the first time in 59 days. Following Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s executive order on May 12 allowing ski resorts to open, the resort, situated on the slopes of Mount Hood, went into overdrive preparing for their second opening day of the 2019-2020 season just three days later.
Timberline created a reservation system, similar to the tee times that Mount Baldy adopted earlier this month, adopted from local golf courses that remained open. The reservations open at 9 a.m. for the following day, and sell out quickly. Skiers we spoke to reported reservations for May 15 sold out within a few minutes.
Season pass holders do not have to pay for day passes, but are not guaranteed a reservation.
Timberline’s director of marketing John Burton said they are taking their social distancing policies very seriously. The lodge spaced out parking 10 feet apart or more, and provided an increased amount of hand washing sites.
The Palmer glacier lift, holding the resort’s steepest terrain, is still out of commission due to ice damage earlier in the season. Skiers and riders can take The Magic Mile lift until Palmer is fixed.
Oregon skier and former brand director of LINE Skis Josh Malczyk skied at the resort on May 15 and said the most remarkable thing about the experience was how normal it felt. Despite the social distancing policies in place—which, Malczyk reported, were well executed—it felt like another day on the hill.
“I’m standing in the parking lot watching a crew of kids hit a kicker they built. Two of them just full-on tomahawked down the slope. It feels like normal,” Malczyk said. “Everybody knew the gravity of the situation and acted with gratitude. It was emotional to be up there. The slushy skiing was totally mundane, but it was special to be up there again.”
The sunny weather turned most of the snow below the lodge to soup, so skiers gathered in the intermediate terrain around Magic Mile. The reservation system kept the numbers down low enough that Malczyk never felt concerned about being close to another skier. He estimates around 200 skiers were on the mountain—which normally holds as many as 1,500 on a high traffic summer day.
In related news, Oregon’s Mount Bachelor opened on May 16, and stay open until May 24, their closing day. Utah’s Snowbird Resort decided this week they will not reopen this season but is allowing uphill traffic for the first time.
This article originally appeared on Powder.com and was republished with permission.
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