Following coronavirus closure, Mt. Baldy ski resort reopening in limited capacity
Weeks after they closed Mt. Baldy as part of the statewide effort to flatten the coronavirus curve, the resort’s operators say it’s time to start carving the slopes again.
The plan to reopen in a limited capacity starting Wednesday — which the San Bernardino County ski destination announced on its website — marks the latest reopening of a recreational resource that was shuttered as elected and health officials have worked to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
“With coverage on the mountain about as good as it gets for April, and golf courses reopening around Southern California, we have decided to follow suit and open for ‘Ski & Ride Times’ beginning tomorrow morning,” Mt. Baldy posted on its website Tuesday.
No one at the resort could be reached for comment immediately Wednesday morning, but its ticketing website showed lift times available throughout the day.
In other words, as the online post put it, “It’s on.”
A slow-moving storm has unleashed steady precipitation across Southern California over the past two days, drenching urban areas with rain and pounding the mountains with powder.
Not all of the resort’s operations are open. Tubing and equipment rentals are still unavailable — “You must bring your own gear!!” the facility declared on its ticketing page — and prospective patrons were warned to expect demanding conditions.
“Experienced advanced and above skiers and riders only,” the resort wrote on its website. “Now is not the time to come learn to ski or ride.”
Visitors shouldn’t expect business as usual. Mt. Baldy has implemented a COVID-19 social distancing operations plan that officials say will have the resort “operating at less than 10% of occupancy.”
“Our ability to operate under these circumstances [relies] heavily on cooperation from everyone,” the resort stated. “If you are not feeling 100%, or have any intention of not treating this situation with the respect that it deserves, stay home.”
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Only season pass holders and those who purchase a one-day lift ticket will be admitted. Lift tickets include a reservation time, and visitors will not be checked in until their designated slot.
Mt. Baldy will check in a maximum of four people at 10-minute intervals.
Patrons must wear masks or face coverings consistent with the latest San Bernardino County COVID-19 health order, and vehicles must be parked at least 20 feet apart, according to the resort. Visitors also are asked to keep a healthy buffer around themselves, particularly while standing in line.
When it comes to the ski lifts themselves, “We suggest that you ride by yourself unless you decide to ride with someone you are in quarantine with,” the resort noted.
“Mt. Baldy Resort is not the ‘Quarantine Police’ and does not intend to be,” officials added. “We ask that you treat this matter with the respect that it deserves.”
As California moves through its fifth week under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order, some jurisdictions have started relaxing certain rules regarding recreational areas — or begun lobbying the state for greater authority to loosen other restrictions.
County officials stressed that residents are still required to stay home as much as possible and practice social distancing inside businesses.
In each case, officials stressed that residents should still practice social distancing when they’re out and about.
It’s not yet clear whether other Southern California ski areas will follow Mt. Baldy’s lead. Mountain High Resort — also located in the San Gabriel Mountains — closed for the season last week, according to its website.
“Since March 1st, we’ve seen another 5 feet of fresh snow, which would have made this the best spring in years,” officials wrote in an April 16 blog post. “We hope you made the most of this exciting season but understand how frustrating it is to miss this last month.”
Big Bear Mountain Resort spokesman Justin Kanton said the season wrapped up there on March 15.
“There are no plans to reopen for winter operations at this time,” he wrote in an email Wednesday.
Mammoth Mountain spokeswoman Lauren Burke said officials there are “closely following the guidelines provided by our federal, state and local health authorities.”
“At this time, we do not have an estimated reopening date for skiing and riding,” she added in an email Wednesday.
Operations also remain on hold at Snow Valley Mountain Resort in Running Springs, “at least until there is more guidance from governmental authorities as far as amending the current mandates that do not permit us to operate,” according to Vice President and General Manager Kevin Somes.
“When that changes, if there is ample snow, we would consider reopening if it is prudent to do so,” he said Wednesday. “We are keeping an optimistic outlook. We are also considering the summer economic impact on Running Springs and neighboring mountain communities regarding Snow Valley’s popular scenic view lift rides, hiking and mountain biking.”
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