Mount Hood ski areas to open

Skiers descend Timberline’s Magic Mile, a mile-long run that begins 1,000 vertical feet above the historic lodge in 2017.

Ski season has been resuscitated in Oregon, with the reopening of one of the most popular ski areas in the state.

Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood will reopen Friday, May 15, for both daytime visitors and overnight guests. But with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, visitors “must be prepared for something very different.”

The decision follows a May 5 announcement by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown that allowed ski resorts and some other outdoor recreation areas to reopen to the public. Timberline was the only ski area on Mount Hood that initially said it would reopen.

“It’s going to be a good experience, but it’s definitely going to be different,” Timberline spokesman John Burton told The Oregonian at the time.

Starting Friday, all visitors must make online reservations in advance, a process that will include a coronavirus questionnaire, Timberline said. Reservations cannot be made more than 24 hours in advance and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis. For now, the ski area will be capped at an unspecified number of reservations per day to control crowds.

Operations on the mountain will be limited to two chairlifts, with lift lines that incorporate 6 feet of social distance. Skiers are allowed to ride chairlifts only with people who they came with, or else ride single or double using opposite sides of the chair.

All skiers must wear masks, gloves and goggles or glasses, the resort said.

Backcountry skiers will not need to make an advance reservation, but will need to stop at a mandatory check point before going out. Those skiers are asked to self-regulate and not gather in groups.

“In order to minimize injuries and incidents, Timberline recommends only skilled skiers and riders visit,” the resort said. “It is imperative guests ski and ride safely. Enjoy the ski area, but this is the time for restraint. Please be conservative and practice good judgment.”

The lodge will also reopen to overnight visitors, though room availability will be limited, advance reservations are required, and people will need to wear cloth face coverings. Guests will need to stop at a mandatory checkpoint upon arrival, where they will be given a hotel ID to wear at all times.

Seating in the day lodge will be closed, as well as the rental shop and many of Timberline’s restaurants and bars. The Cascade Dining Room and Y’Bar will be open for takeout only.

The new restrictions mark significant coronavirus-related changes at an Oregon travel destination, and could provide a glimpse into the future of skiing and lodging in the Pacific Northwest.

“Timberline is a responsible part of the community and doing the right thing is at our foundation,” the resort said in its announcement. “Please count on us to do that. We are counting on you to do your part.”

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