After having a great ski season during 2018-2019, Mount Hood has been hit hard by Coronavirus as the 2019-2020 ski season is going down as one of the worst ever.
Thankfully, Mount Hood could be close to reopening soon but the question is will skiers come back?
Reopening Mount Hood
Skiers may soon return to the snowy southern flank of Mount Hood, which has been all but vacant for more than a month because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Tuesday said she would announce an executive order allowing ski resorts to reopen. The timing of the order remains unclear, however, and no additional details have been released.
Among the Mount Hood resorts, only Timberline Ski Area plans to reopen.
Spokesman John Burton on Wednesday told The Oregonian/OregonLive the ski area could be up and running by the end of next week — provided the executive order is announced soon.
But skiers and snowboarders shouldn’t expect business as usual.
“It’s going to be a good experience, but it’s definitely going to be different,” Burton said.
Guests will have to get reservations online, and they won’t be able to book more than 24 hours ahead of time. Pre-purchased lift tickets and passes for the winter season will still be honored, Burton said, though ski area capacity will be limited.
Skiers’ experience on the mountain will change, too.
That will begin with parking, where social distancing measures will be in place, and carry onto the chairlifts, which will have revamped queues.
More staffers than usual will be on hand to keep things clean, and food and drink will likely be available only to-go.
It will be up to skiers and snowboarders to play by the rules, Burton said. Otherwise, they’ll be asked to leave.
Burton predicted the Stormin’ Norman and Magic Mile chairlifts will operate once the ski area is back up and running. The resort’s Palmer lift — a summer-season mainstay — sustained excessive ice damage over the winter and isn’t yet ready to go.
Timberline proudly touts “the longest ski season in North America” and is regularly open this time of year.
But counterparts Mt. Hood Meadows and Skibowl were already planning to be closed by this point, and neither will reopen for skiing and snowboarding this season.
Central Oregon’s Mt. Bachelor, meanwhile, has yet to announce specific plans.
But the resort said in a statement Wednesday that ski area officials will “thoughtfully develop a responsible return to operation plan that balances the complexities resulting from COVID-19 with the shared desire to again welcome recreation at our beloved resort.”
The governor’s word that ski areas will be allowed to reopen came as part of her announcement that the state will begin to allow outdoor recreation areas to reopen, including select state parks.