Park City Mountain Resort outlines early-season reservation plans in advance of Friday’s opening day
Park City Mountain Resort is planning to start spinning its lifts Friday, but the skiers and riders who want to enjoy opening day festivities have to take a crucial step before they’re guaranteed a spot on those lifts.
On Wednesday, Vail Resorts is planning to open the online reservation window for the early portion of the ski season at PCMR, including opening day Nov. 20 and extending to Dec. 7.
That’s the start of what might become a weekly tradition this year, as skiers must reserve a spot to ski at PCMR, along with many other Vail Resorts properties. At a press conference Monday, officials said reservations and other crowd-limiting and monitoring protocols will enable them to ensure there is enough space for guests to socially distance on the mountain and on lifts, and also, crucially, in indoor spaces like lodges.
Each Wednesday throughout the season, PCMR officials plan to release availability for the subsequent nine days on the hill. So when Parkites start checking weather reports mid-week and thinking about their ski plans, they might surf over to their Epic Pass online portal to reserve a spot that weekend up to the following Friday.
Deer Valley Resort skiers will not be required to make reservations, but officials will continue the policy of capping the number of guests who are allowed on the hill daily.
The PCMR plan was detailed at a Monday press conference that featured officials from several Utah resorts, including PCMR.
“The key is to plan ahead,” said PCMR senior communications manager Jessica Miller.
In addition to the weekly reservation opportunities, each Epic Pass-holder receives seven “priority days” to use over the course of the main season, from Dec. 8 to April 4. The window to reserve those days opened on Nov. 6.
This Wednesday is the first opportunity for passholders to reserve early-season days.
Miller said that same-day reservations will be available throughout the season, so if someone finds their morning unexpectedly free, they’ll likely be able to reserve a spot that day. She asked people who know that they won’t be able to make it to the slopes to cancel their reservations the night before to free up room for other riders.
“For the vast majority of days, we anticipate everyone will be able to ski that wants to,” Miller said. “What you want to plan for is times that are busy.”
On Monday, officials from Cottonwoods Canyons resorts and others around the state shared some of their COVID safety plans. Most said the main motive was to move as much activity outside as possible.
Some revealed creative solutions. At Powder Mountain, for example, officials are planning to place some “snack shacks” around the mountain to spread out crowds. The resort has also purchased new snowcats and trailers to facilitate cat skiing while allowing people to maintain distance and be outside, even when being hauled uphill.
Other precautions resorts are implementing include a “ghost line” in the lift maze to ensure lateral distance between parties and using outdoor yurts to sell lift tickets, with the multiple windows allowing for fewer lines and more distance between guests.
And in what might be a first for Deer Valley, an official said the resort would encourage guests to get ready to ski in parking lots to reduce the amount of people congregating in lodges.
An infectious disease expert from University of Utah Health shared his recommendations for skiers and riders during the press conference, saying that activities have proven safer when they are outdoors and participants wear masks and are able to maintain distance from each other.
Deer Valley plans to open Dec. 5, later than many other resorts. PCMR appears to be one of the few resorts still planning to open this weekend, along with Woodward Park City’s winter operations. Solitude Mountain Resort, Alta Ski Area and Snowbird are delaying their openings, while Brighton Resort has yet to announce its opening day.
Uphill traffic is banned at each of these resorts as grooming and snowmaking ramp up.
PCMR is planning to open both the Canyons Village and Park City base areas on Friday and run two lifts from each, according to a news release. On the Park City side, that means runs off of the Payday and First Time lifts will be open, while at Canyons, runs will be open from the Saddleback and High Meadow lifts from Canyons Village.
Miller said the teams were excited to go on Friday. The release indicated that colder temperatures and early-season snow helped ensure opening day would remain Nov. 20.
Warmer weather this week appears to have impacted the other resorts’ plans, while Solitude announced Nov. 9 that it was delaying the start of its season, in part to ensure there was enough room to socially distance on the mountain.
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