More outdoors than après ski this season at Mount Washington

Food trucks. Pit toilets. Lodge line-ups.

When Mount Washington opens its doors on Dec. 4, it will be a brand new, more-outdoor experience for skiers.

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“It will be different for sure,” marketing manager Kayla Stockton said Tuesday. “People will be waiting in line outdoors. There definitely will be a lot of that. And we want to make sure folks are prepared to spend their time outdoors. The biggest thing to focus on this year is to come up prepared to be out in the elements and enter facilities when needed to do so.”

COVID-19 protocols for the 2020-21 ski season mean face coverings must be worn from the moment people get out of their cars and as they make their way to chairlifts and trailheads.

The resort will have more parking attendants and “snow host” teams directing people where to go for their chosen activity, said Stockton. The resort is hoping people will plan ahead and have most of the information they need before arriving at the mountain.

“The goal is to have folks come up and head from the vehicles straight to the trails. Unless they need to use the washroom or the restaurants, there’s isn’t a ton of need to go indoors,” she said.

“Headcounts will be taken and there will only be a certain number of people in an area at one time. A lot of the areas are going to be closed off. For example, the upstairs level at Raven Lodge will be closed off from the downstairs rental section. There will be very clear one-way entrances and exits at the lodges,” she said.

People will have to use their cars as their own personal dressing room, said Stockton. No one will be allowed to drop their bags off in the lodges or set up at a table. The lodges will have strict limits on the amount of time people spend indoors to give everyone a chance to get in to dine.

“We’ll make sure people are in the building for a certain purpose and once that purpose is fulfilled, they’ll be back outside,” said Stockton.

The resort is building pit toilets. It’s also bringing in food trucks to offer something a little different to its guests. Adirondack chairs will be placed in pods of six near portable heaters in key areas around the base of the mountain.

“On busy days, when we get those storms, there won’t be a lot of places for people to go,” said Stockton. “We do have challenging weather up here and tents are not really an option.”

Skiers, snowboarders and snowshoers can download the Mount Washington app and turn on the push notifications to receive the latest updates on trail conditions, lifts, weather conditions and road closures.

Information is also available on Mount Washington’s website, mountwashington.ca.

Season passes and six-packs are on sale now. Day tickets may be limited on opening weekend depending on the weather and what terrain is open on the mountain, said Stockton. Season pass holders will be the resort’s top priority.

However, Mount Washington has never reached its maximum capacity in a typical year on busy days.

Bear Lodge and Deer Lodge are accepting reservations now with a minimum two-night stay.

So far the snow is looking good for the Dec. 4 opening, said Stockton. “The snow conditions are getting close. We just need another storm or two to cover that main area. We are also making snow,” she said. “But we want to make sure folks are planning ahead. Come prepared to hang out at your car and other places outdoors. We’ll be open.”

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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