‘Use your car as your lodge’: Eaglecrest Ski Area now open with a few new pandemic rules

Snowboarders head down upper Hillary‘s run after getting off the Ptarmigan Chairlift at Eaglecrest Ski Area in March 2018.
Snowboarders head down upper Hillary‘s run after getting off the Ptarmigan Chairlift at Eaglecrest Ski Area in March 2018. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Eaglecrest Ski Area’s season opening was delayed because of record-setting rain and warm weather, and when it finally happened last Saturday, turnout was light.

That’s according to General Manager Dave Scanlan. He says more skiers and snowboarders turned up Sunday and Monday.

But Scanlan keeps in mind that it was the very start of the season.

“We were basically average attendance for the snow conditions and the time of year and the amount of trails we had opened and groomed,” Scanlan says. “And, I would say attendance was about average.”

Scanlan says conditions are still rough in some areas with inadequate snow cover and exposed stumps and rocks. Black Bear Chairlift is not operating yet and the upper part of the mountain is for experts only.

“Every day, the conditions on the mountain seem to be improving as the time continues on,” Scanlan says.

Eaglecrest Ski Area
An example of the damage to the snowpack at the top of the Ptarmigan Chairlift after early December’s mild temperatures and record-setting rains. (Photo courtesy of Eaglecrest Ski Area)

Eaglecrest is also now operating with new COVID-19 mitigation measures in place.

Scanlan says lift lines have been designed to keep everyone six feet apart in all directions. Riders are only allowed to pair up on chairlifts if they arrived with someone they know.

Skiers and snowboarders are not allowed in the lodges. Exceptions include a first-fitting appointment at the rental shop or accessing lockers and bathrooms in the Fish Creek lodge.

“Use your car as your lodge,” Scanlan says. “We don’t have any open seating in any of the lodges.”

There are also portable toilets in the parking lot and soon will be outdoor seating areas.

Also, everyone is required to wear a mask.

“So, that means when you’re walking around the base area, obviously when you’re in any buildings, but also when you’re standing in the lift line and hiking to the lift,” Scanlan says.

“When you’re actively skiing down the mountain or snowboarding down the mountain, you can pull that face covering down,” Scanlan says. “But as soon as you stop riding, we need you to have that face covering up.”

When asked about the revenue impacts stemming from delayed opening and the pandemic, Scanlan says multi-visit punch cards and season passes have been selling well. He says season pass sales are currently near record levels.

Scanlan says that’s where they get most of their revenue.

“So, sales for those products have been really robust this year,” Scanlan says. “We’re just seeing the signs that there’s not a lot of other kind of COVID safe activities to do. And people are cooped up, and they want to get outside and do the things that they love.”

Eaglecrest Ski Area is currently open every day through Jan. 10, except Christmas and Jan. 7 which is designated as a staff wellness day.

Read next