Chairlifts have been silent for weeks on Vermont alpine slopes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And now ski areas are telling people to stay off the mountains altogether.
The risks posed by traditional postseason uphill traffic — people climbing trails on foot in order to ski down — are compounded by current public health needs. As a deterrent, most of the state’s resorts have updated their closed-for-the-season notices.
The industry’s primary trade association, Ski Vermont, posted the following advisory earlier this week:
Alpine ski areas in Vermont are CLOSED. That means that in addition to no lodge, restaurant or other customer services, there are no ski patrol personnel conducting operations on the mountain. Any necessary emergency response/rescue services must come from outside agencies already dealing with the current health crisis; this could equate to delays and/or reduced capabilties from responding personnel. Those faced with emergency situations should dial 9-1-1 to initiate assistance.
Trails at closed ski areas are NOT GROOMED, and as a result may present variable surfaces that could be challenging and potentially hazardous to skiers and riders.
The effort tracks with prohibitions of beach usage and acquatic recreation in coastal areas.
On Thursday, Win Smith, president of Sugarbush, and Matt Lillard, general manager of Mad River Glen, co-signed a letter to the public announcing they would join other resorts in restricting access to their mountains.
“As we have become two of the last areas permitting this activity, we are concerned that this will now bring even more people into our community at a time when it is not in anyone’s best interest,” the letter stated. “Last weekend both Sugarbush and Mad River Glen saw a large volume of visitors traveling here from around the state and beyond.
“Though most were practicing social distancing we unfortunately understand that some may not have been following the proper guidelines. Given the favorable weather this weekend, we would anticipate even larger numbers if we don’t close uphill travel.”
Earlier coverage: Coronavirus in Vermont: Ski areas across state close over the weekend
What each ski resort is saying
Information from Ski Vermont and individual resorts’ websites and social media pages:
► Bolton Valley — Closed entirely: “This includes resort wide operations, services and our designated uphill routes and backcountry terrain – it is all closed at this time due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.”
► Bromley Mountain — Closed to all activity: “Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Bromley Mountain is currently closed to all activity. No uphill travel, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing or sledding is allowed.“
► Burke Mountain— Resort is closed. Per a March 20 update: “Uphill travel is not recommended due to the absence of trail grooming and ski patrol operations, and by participating you assume all risk.”
► Cochran’s Ski Area— Closed for the season.
► Jay Peak — Closed all access to ski trails and uphill travel is prohibited.
► Killington/Pico — Uphill travel at both resorts is closed for the season.
► Lyndon Outing Club — Closed due to deteriorating snow conditions. The last Facebook update on March 24 said, “The LOC is open to anyone who needs an outdoor break. Skin, ski, ride, snowshoe, or just build a snowman. Keep appropriate social distance and go breathe some fresh air.”
► Mad River Glen — All uphill travel is done for the season (see quote above).
► Magic Mountain — Closed with exception: “Uphill hiking/skinning is closed for all but our local residents in the immediate area (10 miles as per Governor’s office for travel) as a means to get outside for exercise per the Governor’s 3/25 order to stay at home other than leaving for “…personal safety; groceries or medicine; curbside pick-up of goods, meals, or beverages; medical care; exercise; care of others; …”
► Middlebury Snow Bowl — Closed with signage posted and barriers blocking access to the parking lot.
► Mount Snow — Uphill access is closed on all portions of the property.
► Okemo Mountain — The ski area is closed but has not explicitly prohibited uphill traffic:“No patrol, no maintenance for recreational use, no services are available at this time. All access is at your own risk. Sledding is not permitted. Unmarked hazards may be encountered at any time. (Including construction, heavy machinery, man-made objects, variable conditions, avalanches, & other hazards).”
► Ski Quechee — Closed March 13 due to poor snow conditions.
► Smugglers’ Notch — Closed to all uphill travel: Additionally, “Sledding and motorized vehicles (including snowmobiles) are not permitted on any trails at Smugglers’ Notch Resort.”
► Sugarbush — All uphill travel is done for the season (see quote above).
► Stowe — Uphill access is closed on all portions of the resort.
► Stratton Mountain — “All uphill travel at Stratton is closed, and gathering on the slopes for any activity is barred to comply with current state orders and for your safety.”
► Suicide Six — Closed for the season for all recreational activities, including uphill travel.
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