Skiing and snowboarding, ways to get outside and somewhat far away from others, seemed to be among the last possible escapes from the coronavirus pandemic and the related cabin fever.
But even those options have been reduced.
Mt. Bachelor ski area and a number of other major Oregon ski resorts have suspended operations through March 22, taking the time to sanitize facilities and equipment and eliminate large gatherings in the hopes of decreasing the spread of the virus.
Bachelor was the first Oregon ski resort to announce its closure late Saturday night, effective Sunday through March 22. The resort will spend the week assessing its options.
“This decision was not made lightly,” noted a statement on Mt. Bachelor’s website. “Our team is the lifeblood of Mt. Bachelor and that is why all of our scheduled employees, both seasonal and year-round, will be paid their scheduled regular hours rate now through March 22, without needing to use any vacation or sick time.”
In an email to The Bulletin, John McLeod, president and general manager at Mt. Bachelor, noted that alpine season passes, nordic, midweek and 12-day passes will not be refunded.
“We are fortunate to have had a great season to date and, at this time while our operations are suspended, we will continue to monitor the dynamic COVID-19 situation and reassess our approach for the rest of the season,” McLeod stated. “We have modified our cancellation policies regarding other products and services that were pre-booked and our Mt. Bachelor Central Reservations team can answer questions and issue refunds.”
Skiers and snowboarders who have passes or reservations at Bachelor can call or text 541-382-1709 with questions or changes.
Uphill travel (skinning uphill and then skiing or riding down) has also been closed until further notice at Mt. Bachelor for the safety of staff and guests.
“Things are changing fast for us right now,” the statement said. “We are still going to have safety and control work and equipment like snowcats and snowmobiles that will be active around the mountain. This is not like a planned end of season closure. We have a lot of things to work through and take care of and we would very much appreciate everyone’s cooperation by observing the full closure until the situation is clearer.”
McLeod said it was a tough decision, but ultimately the correct one.
“We all love to ski and ride and understand the desire of many in our community to continue to engage in the things that make us who we are,” he said. “However this is bigger than all of us and we felt the prudent thing was to press pause and suspend operations for now while we evaluate options for the rest of the season.”
Hoodoo Ski Area near Sisters was to remain open Monday and Thursday through next week for Oregon schools’ spring break, according to hoodoo.com.
“We absolutely understand the need for caution under these circumstances,” noted a statement on hoodoo.com. “Skiing and snowboarding, however, seem to be ideal activities for those who want to continue participating in sports where there is large spacing between people. As such, Hoodoo Ski Area will remain open for regular hours. We will also closely monitor employee health while continuing the policy of not knowingly allowing sick employees to work and spread disease.”
Mt. Hood Meadows announced Sunday the resort would suspend operations through March 22.
“This is an important decision,” the resort said in a statement, “one which we don’t take lightly and only after much soul searching.”
Much like at Mt. Bachelor, officials with Mt. Hood Meadows said the ski area would spend the week sanitizing facilities and equipment as well as evaluating its options.
In a message on its website, Timberline ski area at Mount Hood announced it would halt ski area operations on Sunday as well, adding it plans to resume operations on March 23. Timberline Lodge, also at Mount Hood, remained open as of Sunday.
Mt. Hood Skibowl and Willamette Pass all remained open as of Sunday.