Mount Hood may not be ready for skiers and snowboarders just yet, but once the weather cooperates, blanketing the peak in enough snow, Mt. Hood Meadows wants you to know it’s prepared to pull off a second COVID winter.
Most mountain recreationalists in this state eye Thanksgiving weekend as a potential opening date for ski resorts, but the month of November is ending with a string of record-high temperatures days, not inches of accumulating powder. That dashed hopes for pre-December skiing on our state’s slopes.
Neither Meadows nor Timberline have announced when they’ll begin their seasons. Even in Central Oregon, Mt. Bachelor has postponed its opening, originally slated for Dec. 3.
But resorts are still prepping behind the scenes. Meadows, which will be going into its 54th season this year, recently announced updates to its pandemic operation guidelines.
One of the most noticeable changes is that, this season, guests no longer have to wear a face covering while outside, including while waiting in lift lines. That rule was dropped on Nov. 24, the same day the Oregon Health Authority ended the state’s outdoor masking mandate.
The resort will also be able to pack the ski lifts again. Previously during the pandemic, people from the same parties had to ride back up the mountain together, but the goal now is to load chairs as efficiently as possible and reduce wait times. You may still, however, request to sit only with the people you came with, if you have COVID-related concerns.
And there’s no need for parking lot lunches anymore. Meadows’ bars and restaurants have reopened, including the Bullwheel and Sahale Grill—one of the largest indoor spaces on site, which will allow people to spread out. Tables are spaced apart more than they were pre-COVID.
Masks are still required inside at all times, except when seated, to actively eat or drink, in designated areas. Similarly, nose and mouth covering are required on shuttles from the parking lots to the main lodge.
Ticketing will remain online, in-advance. Meadows says that last year it successfully managed day-to-day and even hour-by-hour visitation by limiting certain passes and tickets, based on the daily forecast.
Before anyone heads to Hood, Meadows is strongly advising people to get vaccinated, and that includes employees. The resort is offering staff a $200 shot incentive. Those who choose not to get inoculated must be tested for COVID-19 weekly in compliance with the federal mandate.
Now that the new guidelines are in place, Meadows can focus on the important stuff: snow.
It knows skiers and snowboarders are getting antsy, but today the resort sent out a spirit-boosting to say that, of the nine times it launched the season after Nov. 25, there was still an average of 332 inches of seasonal snowfall—significantly more than what dumps on many resorts across the country.
With heavy precipitation and lower freezing levels forecasted in the next 10-day period, Meadows could potentially begin building and maintaining a snowpack that will either let it open for the season, or offer a limited preview by Dec. 11.
But if you’re really impatient, Ski Bowl did open its tubing slopes on Nov. 27. After living through a pandemic for the past two years, there’s probably no better time to tap into your inner kid and tear down a hill on a rubber doughnut.