Last Updated: 2 December 2020 at 12.40 GMT (Updates so far since 5 May: 355)
The web’s most comprehensive guide of ski resorts opening around the world during the pandemic.
Around 200 Ski Areas Are Currently Open Worldwide In 10 Countries on 3 Continents: Asia: China, Japan, Kazakhstan. Europe: Finland, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland. North America: Canada, USA
Browse by country:
- (NEW) Austria has announced its ski lifts can re-open from Christmas Eve, bot only for locals with hotels and restaurants, 2021 (2nd December).
- (NEW) The opening of ski areas in Quebec has given hope to people according to the region’s ski areas association president. (2 December)
- (NEW) Ski areas in France expect to get an update on the government’s closure of the slopes over Christmas and new year on December 11th. (2 December)
- Anger at plans to close French and Italian ski areas over Christmas is growing in the Alps from the people who work there (30 November)
- The Portes du Soleil ski region which straddles the border between France and Switzerland says its Swiss side will be open for skiers over Christmas and new year but its French side will be closed. (27 November)
- Bulgaria and Austria have both stated their opposition to a plan by France, Germany and Italy for all EU ski areas to close their ski resorts until January 10th (27 November)
- Taos ski area delays opening due to coronavirus restrictions in New Mexico (27 November)
- Switzerland say their ski resorts will be staying open through Christmas. (26 November).
- Leaders of Bavaria, France and Italy Call for EU Wide Christmas/New Year Ski Resort Closures. (25 November)
- Most French ski resorts have said they will be offering Christmas and New Year holidays to visitors even if they are not permitted to run ski lifts. (25 November).
- A number of states and provinces in the USA and Canada have tightened restrictions on businesses to curtail growing virus numbers but ski areas in Minneapolis and Alberta are the latest to announce that they have been permitted to remain open. (25 November)
- French President Emmanuel Macron has announced this evening that the country’s ski resorts will probably not be permitted to re-open in December when the country ends its November lockdown. Instead they will most likely stay closed through Christmas and New Year holidays but, he hopes, will be able to open in January. A final decision is due in the next 10 days. (24 November).
- Spain’s Sierra Nevada which was due to open this weekend says it won’t open until virus conditions improve. Baqueira Beret, another leading Spanish area, say they’ll open on 11th December, later than usual (23 November)
- Largest ski area in the US, Park City, is open for season (21 November).
- Canada joins list if countries with ski areas open for season now in double figures (the others are Switzerland, the US, and before its latest lockdown, Austria). Ski areas in Alberta post up to 3 feet (90cm) of snowfall in past week (21 November)
- Crystal Mountain is first to open in Washington state, USA (19 November).
- Shymbulak ski area has opened for the season in Kazakhstan (19 November).
- Killington announces plan to open for 20-21 on Friday, 20th November, believed to be first in the Eastern US. (19 November).
- World Cup competition coming up this weekend on the Stubai Glacier in Austria (Slopestyle) and at Levi in Finland (Slalom) (19 November)
- Zermatt says it will delay opening its lower areas and commencing its main winter season by a week to 5th December because of the recent warm weather in the Alps. (16 November)
- Pictures of long lift lines at Zermatt ski area in Switzerland, apparently not socially-distanced, go viral. ( 15 November)
- Scotland’s Nevis Range ski area says it is shutting down operations until the trading situation is better, having made substantial losses during the pandemic. It hopes to re-open in the New year if snow conditions and trading possibilities improve sufficiently (14 November).
- Mountain High ski area in California which had expected to be the first to open for 20-21 in the state postponed after four employees tested positive for COVID-19. Mammoth Mountain will now be the first, probably, opening a day earlier than planned (12 November). Mountain High opened on Saturday the 14th.
- The number of ski areas open in North America for 20-21 is in double-figures With Arapahoe Basin, Keystone, Nakiska and Sunshine opening and some areas receiving more than two feet (60cm) of snowfall. Mammoth, Breckenridge and Marmot Basin (Jasper) among those due to open later this week. (Nov 10).
- Some leading Austrian ski areas including St Anton and Ischgl say they don’t plan to open the day Austria’s November lockdown ends but later in December. (9 November).
- Nakiska and Sunshine ski areas are opening in Canada. Mt Saint Sauveur in Quebec has begun night skiing and Panorama in BC is open for team training. (7 Nov)
- Crans Montana is the 11th Swiss ski area to open for the 20-21 season. (7 Nov)
- Keystone Resort has got the go ahead from the authorities in Colorado to open for 20-21. There were limited opening weekend tickets due to pandemic restrictions, available to season pass holders only, and already sold out. (6 Nov)
- Switzerland’s government has decided not to have a November lockdown like its neighbours and ski areas will stay open, however Valais region has introduced new restrictions with most facilities including restaurants and cafes closing from the weekend (5 November).
- Bulgaria has announced a ‘Ski Holidays are good for your health” promotion for winter 20-21 (5 Nov).
- Italy’s three open ski areas will only be open to race teams from Sunday 8th November. (5 Nov).
- NEW: The ski season got underway in Montana at the weekend at the Great Divide ski area. 4th in the US to Open. (3 Nov)
- The ski season is underway in Eastern North America with Quebec’s Summit Ste Sauveur opening (31st October).
- Austria will begin a November lockdown on Tuesday 3rd, closing the nine ski areas already open and delaying the opening of areas like Obergurgl, Obertauern and Ischgl which usually open in November. (31 October).
- 10 Swiss areas expected to be open this weekend, more than any other country at present. Arosa, Andermatt, Laax and Verbier opening. Greater emphasis on pandemic prevention with limited numbers on the mountain, on cabin lifts, online ticketing only and other measures at some areas – a change from previous policy at most already autumn opened ski areas in the Alps. (30th October).
- A new national lockdown to 1st December in France means Tignes and les 2 Alpes have to close (Les 2 Alpes was due to close on Sunday anyway after October opening) and Val Thorens must delay its planned Nov 21 opening. (29 October)
- Lake Louise is the second Banff area ski centre to announce its earliest ever opening from Thursday, 29th October, joining Mt Norquay, a week earlier than planned following great early conditions. 4 lifts, 7 runs, 1 terrain park and almost 2500 feet of vertical to be open. (28 October)
- Wolf Creek in Colorado first in state and first larger ski area in US to open for 21-22 season on Wednesday 28th October, 2020. (27 October)
- The Southern Hemisphere’s 2020 ski season has ended earlier than expected due to warm spring weather at the last areas open on Mt Ruapehu in New Zealand. (26 October)
- It appeared the four Italian ski areas that had opened already for the 20-21 season would have to close from 26 October until November 24th as part of a new national lockdown in the country. But initially only two have. The hope is that the main ski season will be saved by acting now. (25 October)
- Canada’s 20-21 Ski season will kick off Saturday 24th October, with Mt. Norquay Banff in Alberta, Canada the first in the country to open (its earliest opening date in 95 years) (23 October).
- US and North American ski season underway at Wild Mountain in Minnesota on Tuesday 20 October 2020. (24 October)
- 40cm (16″) of snow on the mountain and 40 days to go to the start of the season at Big White in Canada. It currently sadly seems unlikely non-Canadians will get a chance to be there this winter. (18 October).
- Alpine Skiing World Cup Tour resumes for first time since pandemic lockdown in March with first 20-21 event, at Solden in Austria (17 October).
- Ski areas in France and Sweden open this Saturday meaning more than 20 ski areas will be open in 7 countries. In the Alps there are great conditions on glaciers after three snowfalls in recent weeks. The 20-21 Alpine ski world Cup is also due to begin in Solden (14 October).
- The 2020 ski season in the Andes has about ended with the last ski area still open in Chile closing (11 October)
- A snowmaking company has trialled a machine that fires disinfectant in to a gondola cabin rather than snow on to the slopes (10 Oct).
- Several more Austrian glacier resorts including the Kitzsteinhorn and Stubai have opened for the 2020-21 season meaning 12 areas are now open in the Alps. (5 October).
- Italy’s Sestriere ski area is not selling season passes as it is concerned that it cannot guarantee it will be able to open all season if pandemic restrictions return. (5 October)
- Austrian ski resort Axamer Lizum, a former Innsbruck Winter Olympic downhill race venue, is seeking permission not to open this winter due to the virus. (5 October)
- Cervinia has announced temperature scanners will be in place on some lifts when it opens for the season on 24 October. (4 October)
- The 2020-21 ski season has started in Finland at 9.30am this morning, Friday 2nd October, 2020 with two of its largest resorts – Levi and Ruka – re-opened after six months closure (2 October).
- Glacier 3000 near Gstaad and les Diablerets in Switzerland has opened for winter 20-21 nearly 6 weeks earlier than planned after a 70cm late September snowfall at the weekend (28 September)
- Another three Austrian glacier ski areas are expected to open for their 2020-21 ski seasons at the weekend, taking the country’s total to five – the most in the world right now after New Zealand. The Mölltal Glacier, Kaunertal Glacier and Sölden’s glacier all plan to open. (23 September)
- Ski areas in France are confirming that at present they plan to operate without limits on the number of people using lifts, nor on the mountain, beyond normal limits. Frequent cleaning will be in place and skiers and boarders will need to wear masks. The announcements are in line with those already made by Austrian ski areas and may change if French government policy changes. (22 Sepember)
- A number of ski areas in North America have announced additional outdoor temporary dining facilities to improve social-distancing options. Telluride is looking at using gondola cabins. (22 September).
- A number of ski areas in Europe and North America have announced they’ll be running their lifts faster, where that’s an option, this winter, to minimise time on board. This is along with frequent cleaning, contact-less-access open windows and mask wearing. Italy’s Alta Badia and Jackson Hole in the US are among resorts announcing this. (16 September)
- Vail Resorts have announced their operating plans for their 34 North American resorts this winter. Holders of their Epic Pass season tickets will have exclusive access to the slopes until December 8th then priority access for the remainder of the season. (2 Sept)
- The world’s largest amateur downhill ski race, The Inferno at Murren, says it hopes to run its 78th race in January after the Swiss government announced events of up to 1000 would be allowed to resume. There’s a Plan B if more stringent rules are re-introduced (28 August).
(Headlines from earlier in the pandemic are archived below)
*** Scroll down to the country section below for more details and latest updates ***
Saving now tips to Ski this winter
Click the links below to see:
- Country-By-Country Update on what’s happening to ski resorts there.
- Operating In A Pandemic – What Has Changed?
- Common Sense
Please note ALL re-opened ski areas are exercising strict measures to reduce the risk of spread of the virus, see: ‘Operating In A Pandemic – What Has Changed?’ below.
*** Updated 26 November ***
Andorra Social Distancing Requirements: 1.5 Metres (60 Inches).
Andorra Ski Areas open: 0
Andorra says it will open its ski areas for local skiers this winter although it expects few international tourists will be able to visit.
The planned opening date has been set back to 19th December.
*** Updated December 2nd ***
Austria Social Distancing Requirement: 1 Metre (40 inches)
Austria Lifts Policy: No limit on the number of people using lifts (eg 6 strangers can share a 6 seat gondola cabin), but everyone must wear masks.
Austria Centres Currently Open: 0
The current situation in Austria:
Austrian ski areas were planning for fairly normal operation for winter 2020-21 with centres saying they’ll open as normal and no limits beyond normal limits on the numbers who can use individual lifts or access the mountain.
However on 31st October the Austrian president announced a November lockdown which means the nine areas that had opened already have to close until the start of December. Most Austrian ski areas don’t usually open until December anyway but a few like Obergurgl, Obertauern and Ischgl which open in November will have to delay doing so.
Ischgl said it didn’t plan to open now until mid-December. St Anton were also saying mid-December.
However on 2nd December the Austrian leader announced ski areas would not be allowed to open until Christmas Eve, and then only to locals, with hotels and restaurants closed. It is hoped, though to be confirmed, winter tourism will resume on 7th January, 2021.
What Happening in Austria in the Autumn Before Its Second Lockdown
Normally about half- the ski areas open in Europe until the winter starts are in Austria with glaciers opening in September and October and that was the case this year too.
In mid-November the Austrian Chancellor extended the country’s lockdown to December 6th and there are now concerns that a pan-EU move to delay all ski areas opening until January may come in to force.
Earlier in the autumn warm weather slowed the rate of autumn glacier openings but the Pitztal glacier opened on 19 September, joining year-round Hintertux, with the Kaunertal and Solden glaciers opening a week later and more joining them from early October with heavy snowfall up high helping a lot and giving great conditions for early autumn.
Hochkar opened briefly in October due to the snow (first without a glacier) then Kitzbuhel used snow farming to open from 24th October.
What happened in Austria during the first 6 months of the pandemic?
Austria was one of the first major ski nations to ease their lockdown. They announced in April that ski touring could resume on May 1st although then asked people not to go ski touring due to their potential medical need at a time of pandemic, and high avalanche risk.
They then said ski lifts could re-open from May 29th and initially three of the country’s glacier ski areas: Hintertux, Kaunertal, Kitzsteinhorn re-opened on that date.
The Molltal glacier also began its (usually) 11 month ski season on 6th June. This is a few weeks earlier than the Molltal’s usual ski season opening date which is in the later half of June most years – one of the world’s longest. We say “usually” because on August 16th this year the Molltal glacier ended its summer ski season.
The Kitzsteinhorn announced on 27th May that their area would include a small terrain park.
The Dachstein glacier has also been open again since May 29th – but will not offer snowsports until the autumn.
The Kaunertal had a short re-opening though, running for only 9 days to the scheduled end of its 19-20 season, June 7th.
The Stubai glacier says it won’t re-open for snowsports now until the Autumn, when the Pitztal and Solden glaciers areas usually open too.
*** Updated 25 November 2020 ***
Bulgaria social distancing requirement: 1.5 metres.
Bulgarian ski areas currently open: 0
Ski areas there reported weather was cold enough for snowmaking in late November and that they hoped to open in December. However the country’s health ministry was also reported to be looking in to resorts opening.
The tourism minister said on 26th November the country rejected calls from France, Germany and Italy to close all EU ski slopes until January 10th and expected ski areas to open shortly before Christmas.
***Updated 25 November 2020 ***
Canada Social Distancing Requirement: 2 Metres (80 inches)
Canada Ski Centres Currently Open: 15
Western Canada’s ski centres saw cold temperatures and heavy snowfall in October leading Mt Norquay at Banff to announce its earliest ever opening and be the first in the country and second in North America to open for 20-21 on Saturday 24 October. Lake Louise was the second Canadian area to open, a week earlier than planned and also its earliest ever opening date, on 29th October.
Nakiska had planned to open on the 30th October but switched to 6th November and eventually opened on the 7th. Sunshine opened on the 9th and Panorama has opened to ski racers for trainers but not yet the general public.
Next to open around the weekend of 13-15 November were Marmot Basin in Alberta, the fifth in the province, and Cypress Mountain in BC, the first in the country’s far west. More areas including Big White and Sun Peaks opened soon after.
In the East of the country Mont Sainte Sauveur was the first area to open, on 30th October, following cold weather for snowmaking there. It began night skiing on the 6th November. A warm spell followed which delayed other eastern areas opening, but it’s now cooler again.
Canadian ski centres are operating with pandemic restrictions in place, stricter than in Europe including fewer people on the mountain, on lifts, social-distancing and the rest.
What Happened in Canada During the First 6 Months of the Pandemic
Most of Canada’s ski areas would normally have closed by the time the country eased lockdown in June. Just one, Whistler Blackcomb, normally offers glacier skiing through to early July in a normal year. This year however, it has decided not to open that facility, although it could have, and did re-open for hiking, biking and so on.
Mont St Sauveur in Quebec has opened a summer terrain park in recent years using snow left from the previous winter and they confirmed on May 20th that they have snow left this year and will open the snowpark if Quebec’s lockdown is eased in time. However so far that did not seem to happen.
*** Updated 25th November ***
China Social Distancing Requirement: 1 Metre (40 inches)
China Ski Centres Currently Open: 20
With the Winter Olympics a little over a year ago, China is getting ever more excited about winter sports and keen to out the virus behind them.
Several of the country’s leading ski areas including Wanlong and Thaiwoo opened first runs using snowmaking in late October. Another area was reported to have opened in late September.
More ski areas are reported to have opened across the country’s ski regions in recent weeks, all with pandemic-spread prevention measures in place.
What Happened in China During Winter – Spring 2020
China was where it all began of course and the country’s ski areas were closed and the country largely in lockdown from mid-January to mid-March. It also became the first country where ski areas re-opened in the latter half of March, but with numerous pandemic-re-emergence-prevention measures in place.
It is believed all the country’s ski areas are now closed due to the normal end-of-season in spring, although the 30+ indoor snow centres are operating again.
*** Updated 25th November ***
Czech Republic Social Distancing Requirements: 2m (6.6 Feet).
Face masks are no longer required outdoors as they were initially, but are still mandatory on indoor transport and in indoor public spaces where 2-metre distancing cannot be maintained.
Czech Republic Ski Centres Currently Open: 0
As of late November there are as yet no areas open in the Czech Republic for winter 20-21. Besides virus concerns it has been a fairly warm month with limited snowfall to date.
How Did Czech Ski Areas Behave During The First 6 Months of the Pandemic?
The Czech Republic was one of the first country’s in the world to ease its pandemic to an extent that some ski areas could re-open only about a month or so after lockdown began, by the latter part of April. Most Czech areas had already ended their ski seasons by then anyway but one, Praded, re-opened slopes for a short time.
*** Updated on November 25th, 2020 ***
Finland Social Distancing Requirement: 2 Metre (80 inches).
Finland Centres Currently Open: 2
The 2020-21 ski season started in Finland at 9.30am on Friday 2nd October, 2020 when two of its largest resorts – Levi and Ruka – re-opened after six months closure.
They used snow-farming, saving snow from the previous winter through the summer then spreading it back out on the slopes to create a few runs as it gets colder again in the Autumn to open and were among the first ski areas without glaciers to open in Europe for the new season in this way.
A warm spell in November followed but it turned colder later in the month and Levi hosted World Cup racing as usual on 21st/22nd November.
Finland has also so far managed to suppress the second wave of the pandemic there more successfully than many other countries in Europe.
What Happened in Finland In The Spring 2020 Pandemic?
Finland was one of the last countries in Europe to decide to close ski areas as the pandemic took hold in March, closing the last in early April.
Several centres here use snow farming, preserving last season’s snow under cover through the warmer months then spreading it back out on the slopes in early autumn when things cool down, to open early. Levi and Ruka aim to open in early October.
Levi, due to open on October 2nd, is pictured above in mid-August.
*** Updated on November 27th, 2020 ***
France Social Distancing Requirement: 1 Metre (40 inches). Wearing a mask is compulsory in lift queues and throughout the ski lift journey for people over 11 years old.
France Ski Centres Currently Open: 0
However on 28th October President Macron announced a new lockdown from 30th October to 1st December to try to quall rising virus numbers so ski areas have unfortunately closed again (Les 2 Alpes had been due to close again through November anyway after its 2-week October opening).
On 24th November as the lockdown was nearing its end President Macron announced that the country’s ski areas would probably not be allowed to re-open for Christmas and New Year but he hoped would be able to open in January and said a final decision on that would be made by 4th December.
On 26th November the French Prime minister appeared to confirm that ski areas should be closed until January. The country is working with Germany and Italy to try to create an all-EU ban on ski areas opening until January 10th.
Most French resorts have now said they plan to open for visitors at Christmas even if they could not run the ski lifts.
Concerns have been raised about people hiking up to ski runs at closed resorts when they may not have been made avalanche safe.
French Glacier Ski Centre operations in Summer 2020
All three remaining French glacier ski areas re-opened in June for their summer ski seasons. Resorts are expected to begin autumn operations on the glacier at Tignes from 10th October.
Lifts are also running again at some resorts resorts like Chamonix, with temperature checks for users, to access high altitude ski touring terrain,
Staff in the three French glacier ski areas that open for summer skiing,
Les 2 Alpes, Tignes and Val d’Isere, were able to go back in to work since May 11th to prepare for the easing of the French lockdown.
Initially resorts focused on French visitors but borders re-opened across the EU through June and then with some other countries.
Val d’Isere was open to July 11, Tignes to August 2nd and Les 2 Alpes to 30 August.
On June 2nd Val d’Isere released detailed of its summer operating plans with a range of pandemic-spread-prevention measures in place including a requirement to buy lift passes at least 48 hours in advance, online.
Originally the centre had thought it too would initially only open for race team training initially then for the general public later in the month but it is now open for both with a maximum of 500 tickets a day in the first week to recreational skiers and boarders then 600 from week two.
A month in to operations a spokesperson for the centre said, ” It has all gone really well, helped by fabulous snow conditions. Social distancing for the lift, wearing masks on the lift, and booking online with numbers limited is working very smoothly.”
France had one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe with the nation coming together to stop the spread of the virus. Many initiatives were reported including ski instructors turning their talents to stitching old ski jackets into face masks; Michelin starred ski area chefs working to supply food to frontline medical staff, and French ski gear manufacturers switching to PPE manufacture.
*** Updated December 2nd 2020 ***
Germany Social Distancing Requirement: 1.5 Metres (5 Feet)
Number of German Ski areas open: 0
Germany was due to start its 2020-21 season in mid-November at the Zugspitze glacier, which reported great autumn conditions after lots of October snowfall. However the country’s second lockdown, later extended to December 20th stopped that.
Bavaria, and later the German Chancellor, led efforts coordinated with France and Italy to close ski slopes across the EU in to January and it now looks like German slopes are closed to at least January 10th, 2021.
German ski areas say the order is unfair as they are not the sort of resorts with lively apres ski and have pandemic spread prevention measures in place.
***Updated November 27th ***
Italy Social Distancing Requirement: 1 Metre (40 inches).
Italy Ski Centres Currently Open: 3
Italy’s ski season was gathering pace in October with four areas open and great conditions thanks to early autumn snowfall by the end of the month.
However a new partial-national lockdown led to some of the resorts being closed again from Monday 26th October with the hope that measures taken across the country would bring virus infection rates down and the country would be able to open for the winter ski season after 24th November.
Initially two of the four areas stayed open (Sulden and Val Senales) to all however, apparently as Italian regions take a different approach to the national advice. Val Senales confirmed on 28 October it plans to stay open, but then on 4th November announced from 8th November it would only be open to race teams Sulden said the same.
A third, Cervinia, closed for three days but then re-opened to race teams only from 29th October. The fourth, Passo Stelvio, had been due to close anyway from November 1st, due to its June-October season ending anyway.
Towards the end of November Italy’s Prime minister advised Italians not to go on their traditional Christmas ski holiday and joined with France and Germany in seeking a ban on ski areas opening across the eu until January 10th, 2021.
Italian Ski resort Operating In First 6 Months of Pandemic
Italy, one of the worst affected countries in Europe from the virus, had a strict lockdown for nearly two months, which was then progressively eased since May 4th allowing for an ever increasing amount of outdoor activity.
The Stelvio Summer Ski Centre in Italy, the country’s only remaining summer-only destination, reopened for Italian national team athletes at the start of June and then re-opened to all skiers and boarders from 13th June – it’s due to stay open to the end of October, all being well.
A second glacier area, Val Senales, opened on September 18th for its 2020-21 season.
The first 6 Months of the Pandemic in Italy
Besides the Italian squads, racing superstars Petra Vlhova from Slovakia and upcoming star Alice Robinson from New Zealand, were training at Stelvio back in June. There were however reports of several virus cases in the Italian team based there in late June.
Access to a second summer ski area, accessed from Cervinia but located on the Swiss side of the border above Zermatt, re-opened with summer skiing from 20th June, earlier than previously hoped.
In an interesting twist from the pandemic prevention measures, there are different social distancing requirements on each side of the border – 1 metre (40 inches) in Italy but 1,5 meets (5 feet) in Switzerland. However the resort reports all is fine with skiers sticking to the rules on each side.
A third Italian area that formerly operated through summer, Val Senales said on 5th May they were concerned there was “fake news” that they might re-open this spring/summer and said they definitely will not be and are prepping the area for their usual September season start.
***Updated November 27th ***
Japan Social Distancing Requirements: 2 Metres (6.6 feet).
Japan Ski Centres Currently Operating: 2
What’s The Current Situation in Japan?
The first ski resort opened a run for 20-21, using entirely machine-made snow, in late October 2020.
The ski season then kind of got underway in Japan with at least two areas opening runs made from entirely all-weather snow machine snow – so it was a case of a ribbon of snow over grass and leaves down the slope. SnowJapan.com reported that Snow Park Yeti – known as Fujiyama Snow Resort Yeti last year and other names before that – was the first in the country to open on Friday 30th October
In response to Covid-19, Hokkaido Prefecture launched the ‘New Hokkaido Style’ campaign, encouraging new lifestyle habits and business customs as part of a ‘new normal’.
In resorts, protective screens at desks, sanitation of high-touch areas, provision of hand sanitiser, floor stickers for social distancing, daily health checks for employees and temperature and travel history checks for guests are just a handful of the industry-wide approaches that have already been incorporated.
Rusutsu resort in Hokkaido is operating reduced capacity on its airport transfer buses in order to better assure social distancing and gondolas are being disinfected between each ride.
Kiroro resort has introduced digital menus in its restaurants, as well as implementing a strict guided seating process led by restaurant staff members.
Temperatures warmed and virus cases increased in mid-November throwing doubts on the start of the country’s main season at the end of November and start of December.
What happened in Japan during the first 6 months of the pandemic?
Japanese ski areas kept operating through the initial stages of the pandemic in February and until late-April, in the cases of resorts that usually stay open to the start of May. However, a second, worse, wave on the pandemic in mid-April caused all to close by April 24th.
The country has lifted its state of emergency again in late May and the lone summer ski area Gassan opened again, ending its season at the end of July.
Initially that was for local skiers in Yamagata Prefecture only, and at one point skiers had to present ID to show they had not travelled from outside the area when buying tickets, but is now open to all once more.
*** Updated 27th November ***
Norway Social Distancing Requirements: 1 Metre (40 Inches).
Norway Ski Centres Currently Open: 2
Norway perhaps had the shortest closed period of any of the world’s ski areas in spring 2020 and has had ski areas open almost constantly since late April.
In November 2020 the general view was that the country was handling the second wave of the pandemic fairly well and that most ski areas should be able to re-open subject to the approval of their local health authorities.
What Happened in Norway During The First 6 Months of the Pandemic?
Norway was one of the first countries in Europe to ease its lockdown, in late April, allowing smaller ski areas to re-open, if agreed by local government and health bodies and social distancing and other measures in place. About a dozen areas re-opened and some got another 4-6 weeks of the season in before closing in late-May as the snow melted.
However three glaciers ski areas stayed open until early August and two are still open.
The third glacier to open, Stryn, opening for is season on 12th June but was the first to close in August.
Fonna glacier area had had so much snow this winter and spring the main issue for them has been clearing snow, more than the pandemic, but they eventually opened after more than a month of digging out the access road with snow lying up to 15 metres/50 feet deep and also operating with social distancing and all other anti-virus-spread measures in place.
*** Updated 26 November ***
Social Distancing Requirements in Poland: 1.5 Metres.
Polish ski centres currently operational: 0
Poland has said its ski slopes will reopen this season – but only for local residents and during the school holidays, with resort hotels and restaurants remaining closed.
What Happened in Poland at the Start of the Pandemic
Poland relaxed its lockdown and allowed mountain areas to re-open lifts at the start of May, one of the first countries in Europe to do so. However the season is ended there now anyway.
*** Updated 26 November ***
Social Distancing Requirements in Scotland: 2 Metres, Mask worn in lift queues and indoors.
Scottish ski centres currently operational: 0
Most of Scotland’s ski areas say they are ready to open in December when conditions are good. However Nevis Range ski area says it is shutting down operations until the trading situation is better, having made substantial losses during the pandemic. It hopes to re-open in the New Year if snow conditions and trading possibilities improve sufficiently (14 November).
The other four areas say they plan to open on or before December 19th depending on snow conditions.
What Happened in Scotland at the start of the Global Pandemic
Some long-time observers of Scotland’s challenging winters for ski area operators pointed to the irony that conditions from late-March and though April would have been the best in recent years for several of the country’s ski areas. On the West Coast, in particular, the snow was lying deep, the weather has been much less windy than usual and the weather service reported April was the sunniest in the country since records began. Re-opening ski slopes didn’t happen though as Britain eased its lockdown, and Glencoe had a virtual version of its famous midsummer snowsports day in late June.
***Updated 12 June ***
Social Distancing Requirement in the Slovak Republic: 2 Metres (6.7 feet)
Ski Centres Currently open in the Slovak Republic: 0
Slovakia’s ski resorts usually start opening in December. November conditions have not been ideal for a pre-season base build up with little natural snowfall and temperatures often too warm for snowmaking.
What happened in the Slovak Republic in the first 6 Months of the Pandemic?
The Slovak Republic became the first country to re-open a major mountain resort complete with large chairlifts, gondolas, funitel and cable-car lifts on May 1st. Jasna has full social distancing measures in place, as detailed in ‘Operating In A Pandemic – What Has Changed?’ below.
***Updated 27 November ***
Slovenia Social Distancing Requirement: 1.5 Metres (5 Feet)
Ski Resorts open in Slovenia: 0
Slovenian ski areas tend to start opening in December. It has been rather warm and dry in November but Kranjska Gora said towards the end of the month it hoped to open soon.
What Happened in Slovenia in the first 6 Months of the Pandemic
Kanin ski area announced it was re-opening due to good conditions up high from 14th May. The Slovenian national squad were training there and organised the first national competitions anywhere since lockdown began. The centre closed again on 31st May.
*** Updated 23rd November ***
Spain Social Distancing Requirements: 1.5 Metres (60 Inches).
Ski centres currently Open in Spain: 0
Leading ski area Sierra Nevada which was due to open on 27th November says it won’t open until virus conditions improve. Another leading area Baqueira Beret, another leading Spanish area, say they’ll open on 11th December, later than usual
***Updated 27 November, 2020 ***
Sweden Social Distancing Requirements: 1 Metre (40 Inches).
Sweden Ski Centres Currently Open: 2
Sweden’s 2020-21 ski season began on 16th October 2020 at Idre Fjall ski centre which used snow-farming – saving snow from the previous season stockpiled under cover through summer then spreading it back out on the slopes in October – to open a downhill run and cross country ski trails.
Unseasonably warm weather in November delayed some resorts opening and there were also growing concerns that increasing virus case numbers could make opening ski areas a bad idea in terms of potential virus spread.
Sweden’s Response To The Pandemic in Spring 2020
Sweden took a different tack to most nations in locking down at a more gradual pace and still less severe than most other countries, whilst asking its citizens to behave sensibly.
Most of the country’s ski areas were closed in April however as restrictions were increased, among the last in the world to do so. Not all did though, with several agreeing with their local authorities that they could continue to operate.
The last of these to stay open and become the only resort in the world to operated its normal season through the pandemic to date was Riksgransen in the far north which remained open through to May 24th.
However skiing and boarding under the midnight sun which usually take place in May each year was cancelled in 2020 due to a lack of guests, and the annual season-ending Big Mountain Championships are a video competition this year instead.
*** Updated November 27th ***
Switzerland Social-Distancing Requirement: 1.5 Metres (5 Feet)
Switzerland Ski Centres Currently Open: 20 (some only at weekends)
Swiss ski centres are opening for the 20-21 season as normal, some earlier than normal. Zermatt has been open since June, Saas Fee since July.
Heavy snowfall at the beginning and end of September led a third area, Glacier 3000 near Gstaad and les Diablerets to open nearly six weeks earlier than planned at the start of October. It was followed by the Titlis Glacier above Engelberg on the 10th.
The Diavolezza Glacier near St Moritz opened on the 19th then Davos on the 24th. Next came Andermatt, Arosa, Laax and Verbier on 30th/31st October – some only opening initially at weekends.
There was a fear that the country would go in to a November lockdown like its neighbours but on 4th November the government decided to keep most businesses open although there were increase restrictions on restaurants and other businesses put in place. An 11th Swiss area, Crans Montana, announced it was opening on the 7th.
Swiss centres have comprehensive anti-pandemic-spread measures in place and have created a ‘Safe & Secure’ holiday label.
Lifts can operate at capacity if busy but everyone must swear masks however from the end of October opening resorts began announcing measures similar to those adopted in North America and in much of the southern hemisphere during the 2020 season there. In some case limited numbers on lifts, in waiting areas and on the whole mountain. Also insisting tickets are bought online, sometimes with timed slots. Laax initially opened to season pass holders only.
In late November the leaders of France, Germany and Italy put forward a plan to close all EU ski areas until January 10th but on November 26th Switzerland’s health minister said ski areas there would stay open through the Christmas and New Year holidays.
Switzerland During The First 6 Months of the Pandemic
Switzerland slowly eased its lockdown from May. Zermatt, usually open for snowsports 365 days a year, re-opened on June 6th.
Saas Fee opened for it’s nine month season through to April 2021 in mid-July.
However on July 6th the country made wearing face masks on public transport (previously advised but not a legal requirement) a legal requirement. In terms of ski resorts operating ski lifts, this initially only impacts skiers at Zermatt.
“Since this morning it has become mandatory on all cable car cabins and gondolas run by Zermatt’s lift company to wear face masks. We ask you to observe these for the protection of yourselves and others and thank you for understanding,” a statement from Zermatt Bargbahnen advised on July 6th, adding,
“If you don’t carry a mask with you, you can buy mouth-nose protection at the kiosks of Zermatt Bergbahnen AG as well as in the Matterhorn glacier paradise restaurant.”
Shops, bars and restaurants re-opened from May 11th although with restrictions in place.
Although now closed again, Crans Montana, announced on 28th May it would re-open its glacier slopes for a nine-day period from Saturday, 6th June.
***Updated 27 November ***
USA Social Distancing Requirement: 6 Feet (1.8 Metres)
USA Ski Centres Currently Open: 100+
Wild Mountain in Minnesota was the first ski area in the US (and North America) to open for winter 20-21 on Tuesday 20th October following low temps for snowmaking and some natural snowfall in the Midwest.
It was joined by Trollhaugen, over the state border in Wisconsin, on Sunday 25th October.
They were joined by Wolf Creek in Colorado opening a week later on 28th October after around two-feet (60cm) of snowfall there. Next to open in the state was Keystone on November 6th, then Arapahoe Basin on the 9th, Loveland on the 11th and Breckenridge on the 13th.
The ski season got underway in Montana on Halloween at the Great Divide ski area. The 4th area in the US to Open.
Lookout Pass was the first ski area to open for the season in Idaho for the new season, with fourteen trails open, five of them groomed on opening day, 14th November.
Crystal Mountain in Washington State opened on 18th November, two days earlier than planned, due to good snow conditions. Killington was first in the East on 20th November.
There have been many more areas open since then. However Taos delayed its planned opening in late November after the New Mexico state government announced pandemic operating restrictions.
Most of the country’s ski areas had opened by the start of December.
Ski areas in the US are offering a “very different” winter 2020-21.
Most have announced they plan to open as usual although some are delaying opening a little to ensure enough terrain is open when they do open.
Vail Resorts are limiting early-season access to their Epic Pass season pass holders only, until December 8th. Pass holders will then have priority booking for other days.
Most are announcing things like 50% capacity limits on mountains to avoid over-crowding, the need to book lift tickets and mountain access in advance and those driving to the mountains to book car parking.
Many other measures are being put in place to prevent the danger of spreading the virus when they open.
What happened in the US during the first 6 months of the pandemic?
The last resort still open in the US for winter 20-21 ended its season at the end of August.
It was a complex picture in the US during the period from March to June with different states having different lockdown rules, easing restrictions at different times.
All areas were closed for most of April until Mt Baldy in southern California decided that it could re-open if local golf course could. It stayed open to May 5th when the advance of spring weather appears to have led to its closure.
In Oregon an announcement of eased restrictions in early May meant
Timberline Lodge & Ski Area in Oregon re-opened on Friday, 15th May. Operating the longest season in North America, Timberline usually stays open to late summer and initially said it would stay open to September 7th this year.
It later brought closing day forward to August 30th after a month of very hot weather.
For July and August Timberline was the only US resort open, although the US ski team and other private groups were reported to have been training on snow at Copper Mountain in Colorado until mid-August.
In terms of other US ski areas that are usually open in late spring and in some cases early summer:
Mt Bachelor, a second Oregon resort, also re-opened, from May 16th, but only for 9 days to the 24th May, and only for season pass holders. Both areas sold out of lift tickets for re-opening day very fast.
In Vermont, although re-starting its summer mountain operations, Killington decided ‘on balance’ not to re-open for late-May snowsports on its Superstar trail, although the snow is there and it would usually open to the end of the month in a normal season.
In Minnesota Wild Mountain ski area groomed some of is remaining snow and installed rails and other features to create a hike-up terrain park which it opened on the afternoon of May 9th, charging $10 for access or free to season-pass holders.
In Colorado restrictions were eased a little in early May allowing people to enjoy outdoor recreation within 10 miles of their homes but this was quickly followed by a ban on ski areas re-opening before May 22nd. This led Aspen, which said it had been hoping to do so if permitted, to then say it wouldn’t re-open this spring. Wolf Creek had also been aiming to re-open.
On 25th May it was announced that Arapahoe Basin would re-open from Wednesday 27th May. This proved so popular the resort had to run a lottery to see who can buy lift tickers each day. It later announced it would close for the season on June 7th due to snow conditions.
Crystal Mountain in Washington State announced a similar short re-opening, just 7 days after initially saying they’d re-open for a fortnight. They were open from June 1st to June 7th.
Other US areas that typically stay open to late spring so could possibly re-open if their states deem it safe to do so and they with and are able to include Mammoth and Squaw Valley in California and Snowbird in Utah but all gave snowsports a miss in spring 2020, although re-opening for summer activities.
The small Beartooth Basin summer ski area on the Montana/Wyoming border reopened for its 2020 season on June 1st and operated for just over three weeks to around June 23rd when it closed due to thin cover.
THE A-Z OF THE ‘NEW NORMAL ON THE WORLD’S SKI SLOPES…
The apres ski scene looks like it will be quieter and socially distanced this winter. Austrian resorts, infamous for their crowded, lively bars at the base of the slopes, which some say caused fast virus spread in February and March, say winter 20-21 will see these toned-down dramatically with social distancing and quiet music playing, one describing them as “more like coffee lounges”
For skiers arriving by car, some resorts are providing timed arrival slots which must be booked in advance to avoid gatherings of people at the base. Others are requiring cars, like people, to be socially distanced – including Caviahue in Argentina:
Early Closure Calls
Some ski areas, most notably in Argentina when areas re-opened there from late July, have introduced a policy of deciding the day before if an area will open the next day, based on the forecast rather than the actual weather on the day. The idea is to avoid the danger of a lot of people gathering waiting together at the bottom of what turn out to be closed, storm-bound slopes.
Eating and Drinking
There are different approaches being employed in different ski areas. However there are common themes. Screens to separate distanced tables are common, as are the options of food delivery services. Some are offering a counter takeaway service only and some only outdoor dining with tables spaced two metres or more apart and the same rules of social distancing we are getting used to with groups that are together anyway able to eat and sit together but separate groups and individuals well spaced out.
For ski areas that attract a lot of self-driving clientele they’re promoting a “your car is your base lodge” approach with skiers encouraged to bring their own food and drink to consume in their cars during breaks.s
A number of ski areas in Europe and North America have announced they’ll be running their lifts faster, where that’s an option, this winter, to minimise time on board. This is along with frequent cleaning, contact-less-access open windows and mask wearing. Italy’s Alta Badia and Jackson Hole in the US are among resorts announcing this.
It’s not yet clear how much this will be an issue next winter but skiers in China have to prove to ski centres in advance of buying a ticket that they had a certificate to say they were virus-free before they were allowed to buy a lift ticket.
Ski areas that are currently open are making a lot of efforts to clean And disinfect public areas including lifts regularly and continuously and hand sanitisers are being made widely available for visiting skiers.
Resorts are doing all they can to minimise human contact in the ticket purchasing process. This typically means buying your pass online and adding credit to an electronic pass. If it’s a resort with a physical pass you’ll likely pay for online or on a site with a contactless card and collect it in a way that avoids human contact.
Some ski areas that have been operating in recent weeks and months have strictly limited the number of people allowed on site. Many require you to buy your lift pass and book your time on the slopes at least a day in advance, you can no longer just roll-up. Some have sold-out for several days in advance as a result. Reports from Australia indicated tickets at some resorts were snapped up for much of the season there. Some have also staggered arrival times at the base.
Masks and Gloves
Fortunately boarders and skiers and used to having their body’s covered to keep the cold and snow out, but most resorts now require gloves and masks to be worn at all times, particularly in indoor public spaces, in line with most governments around the world, not just when skiing downhill.
Queuing for the Lift
We should see an end to any scrums at the base of the lifts as social distancing measures are put in to place with spacings generally marked on the ground 6 feet/2 metres apart. It remains to be seen if resorts will offer extended opening times for lifts in peak periods in order to get enough people up the mountain.
Riding the Lift
Family groups and other groups that are already together are able to ride on chairs and in cabins together but otherwise, there’ll be social distancing with cable car/tram and gondola cabins as well as on chairlifts so the number of people getting in any individual cabin or on a chair will be dramatically reduced and face masks must be worn.
Some ski areas have re-opened but said that only those with their own equipment could visit and that rentals would not be available – another move to minimise the risk of virus spread.
Some re-opened resorts aren’t offering group lessons, only private classes.
A large number of ski areas are now scanning foreheads for your body temperature as well as your lift pass to check its valid.
A few smaller ski areas that have re=-opened have said their toilets won’t be open in a move to reduce the risk of virus spread. Others have opened their toilets but with only one persona allowed in at a time and social-distancing queuing outside, and of course lots of hand-sanitisers available.H
A number of re-opened ski areas are closing midweek or at other times. Unusually in Chile when ski areas re-opened there the busiest open days at the weekend were ruled out in order to keep numbers on the slopes deliberately low.
Southern Hemisphere 2020 ‘Pandemic Season’ Archive
*** Updated 29 September 2020 ***
Argentina Social Distancing Requirement: 2 Metres (6.6 Feet)
Argentina Ski areas Currently open: 0
Argentina had a strict lockdown in place from mid-March which appears to have limited the spread of the virus more effectively than in many other South American countries. The lockdown was extended several times but was eased on a region-by-region basis from early August.
About five Argentinian ski areas opened during August and September 2020, the last of these closing again for the season on 28th September.
On July 23rd Cerro Catedral near he ski town of Bariloche became the first ski area in South America to open for the 2020 ski season. The centre is open for local skiers only with regional and international travel difficult and not advised.
Two more areas, Cerro Bayo and Cerro Castor announced they’d open to local skiers from Saturday, August 1st and Chapelco and other Argentinian ski areas have also now opened, Caviahue from 15th August.
Earlier in July when things began to ease slightly already at Cerro Castor down near Tierra del Fuego and the world’s most southerly developed ski area. It opening its resort base and ice rink to local people in the province and also allowed cross country skiing although until 1st August its lifts were not running and downhill slopes were closed.
Argentina’s ski-season would normally have begun in mid-June and usually runs to early October. Of the half-dozen ski areas that were open, centres began closing again for the end of the season from mid-September.
Cerro Castor closed on September 25th, Catedral on the 27th.
At the still closed ski areas in Argentina they were warning backcountry skiers during the winter and spring that they should not be hiking up to ski slopes in the Andes during the ongoing lockdown there. They warned there’d been no avalanche prevention measures and there are currently no rescue or medical staff on site whilst resorts were closed. As there had been a lot of snowfall, the avalanche danger was extreme.
*** Last Updated 4 October 2020 ***
Australia Social Distancing Requirement: 1.5 Metres (5 Feet)
Australia ski areas currently open: 0
2020 has really been a season like no other in Australia.
The country’s 2020 season got underway on 22nd June with Mt Baw Baw and Thredbo opening. This was a few weeks later than usual as Aussie ski areas normally open for the ski season around the first weekend of June, a national holiday weekend in the country. It lasted until 4th October when Perisher, the last area open, ended its season.
This year anticipation has been raised by huge autumn snowfalls at the start of May, with several smaller snowfalls and lowering temperatures since. June was drier but the snow returned in early July. However overall it was one of the warmer winters.
In the last week of May the provinces of New South Wales and Victoria, where most of the country’s ski centres are, both announced centres could start their seasons from June 22nd as pandemic restrictions are eased.
The next areas to open were Mt Baw Baw and Perisher on the 24th with fellow Vail Resorts owned Falls Creek and Hotham initially saying they’d open on the 29th June but later delaying to 6th July due to limited early snow cover.
Charlotte Pass had company operated accommodation open from Thursday 25th June with the ski slopes open from Friday 26th June. So all of the country’s leading ski areas had opened by July 6th, other than Mt Selwyn which will remain closed during the season due to bushfire damage which destroyed lifts earlier in the year.
However from July 8th operations of ski areas in Victoria (Falls Creek, Hotham, Mt Baw Baw, Mt Buller) were in some doubt following a spike in cases around the city of Melbourne. Residents from, areas of the city now in strict lockdown again who had bookings are being refunded payment and ski areas say they are reviewing operations.
Falls Creek and Hotham initially closed again for at least 6 weeks to August 19th -about 6 weeks from the end of the season, but then decided to stay closed. The state’s other two areas did stay open at that point though: Mt Baw Baw was opening weekends for snowsports and Mt Buller was open for much of July.
In an added twist, whilst operator Vail Resorts has closed the lifts at Falls Creek and Mt Hotham, the resorts themselves were still open, and other activities are available to people in Victoria, including back country skiing.
Pandemic-spread prevention measures meant the now-normal social-distancing and limited numbers on the mountain. Most areas operated at around 50% capacity and there was a 1.5 metre social distancing rule in place.
Thredbo initially put lift tickets on sale online on 10th June but had its site overloaded with more than 25,000 people trying to buy lift tickets in the first few hours they were on sale – so there was certainly demand.
There was another twist later in July as the pandemic in Victoria worsened and the state’s government reimposed restrictions meaning Mt Buller and Mt Baw Baw have had to close again.
This was reviewed on September 13th but Buller and Mt Baw Baw did not re-open, in part due to poor snow conditions after a warm winter. Vail Resorts had already said Falls Creek and Mt Hotham won’t now re-open this winter though, whatever happened in mid-September.
In the meantime a short season began at Ben Lomond in Tasmania as there was finally adequate snow cover.
Thredbo ended its season on 22nd September citing poor snow conditions. It’s also worth remembering even before the virus was a known danger, one Australian area, Selwyn, had already ruled out opening in 2020 after it was destroyed by bush fires at the very start of the year.
*** Last Updated 11 October, 2020 ***
Chile Social Distancing Requirement: 2 Metres (6.6 Feet)
Chile Ski Centres Open: 0
Chile’s season usually starts in mid-June but the country has been is a strict lockdown since the autumn which only began to be slightly eased in mid-August.
The last of the three ski areas that re-opened there in late summer ended its season on 11th October 2020.
There were signs from the start of August that ski areas might be allowed to open and resorts have been stressing they have so much snow they might be able to stay open until November – if they did get the chance to open.
Some started opening to non-skiing day visitors although lifts and runs remained closed, then on the 11th August the government announced some areas could open with restrictions.
La Parva was the first to say it would do so, to season pass holders only, from the 18th August, El Colorado followed on the 19th. A third, Corralco, opened on 29th August, Others said the remainder of the ski season was so limited and their costs to open so high with all the COVID related restrictions it was not worth them opening for the remainder of the 2020 season.
Ski areas were only open to local people with season passes or similar, and unusually they were not allowed to open at weekends. Other measures at resorts that have reopened including cutting hill capacity by up to 70%, only one person per chairlift seat, limits on numbers in mountain restaurants and so on.
In the end only the three areas opened in Chile in 2020. La Parva was the first of the three to end its season, on 25 September, followed by El Colorado on the 4th October and finally Corralco on the 11th October.
Earlier in the Pandemic in Chile
The initial three month state-of-emergency began in mid-March but in mid-June the government announced a further three month extension to mid-September, the end of the ski season.
The country has unfortunately been one of the hardest hit in South America and the entire world by the virus – in terms of known infections.
Portillo said in mid-June that it has proactively set is planned opening date back about a month to July 18th and was offering 100% refund guarantee or free re-booking for 2021 for those who want to reserve a place in the hope that they would be able to open then.
However on June 23rd it announced it had suspended its opening date indefinitely” – until it had “better news” on being able to open.
In May Chile’s Asociacion de Centros de Ski de Chile, an association of 12 of the country’s resorts, put together proposal on the safe operation of ski lifts and other facilities during the pandemic. It organised a Webinar with senior tourism staff from the Chilean government in late July – stressing that it had a plan to operate ski areas safely in terms of the pandemic, and the need for skiing for good physical and mental well-being, as well as economic reasons.
*** Updated September 29th, 2020 ***
South Africa Social Distancing Requirement: 1.8 Metres (6 Feet)
Lesotho Ski Areas Currently Open: 0
Lesotho has one small ski area, Afriski (pictured above on 15 April), which was originally due to open for the season at the start of June. Afriski later announced that now that Lesotho has fully re-opened its economy, it would open for its 2020 season on 18th June.
It was the first ski area in the southern hemisphere to open for its 2020 season. In the end it operated all winter with Lesotho-only skiers as the South African border did not open.
The resort closed for the season on it’s normal closing date: 30th August.
In a statement about their opening plans back in May, Afriski’s team said,
“The big unknown unfortunately rests on the SA governments decision on when to ease travel restrictions. Fortunately, the Lesotho government has taken a far more progressive, yet responsible, stance relating to the re-opening of their hospitality and food and beverage sector. Despite this uncertainty we have decided to take a leap of faith.”
“This will further ensure great snow production and the best skiing conditions possible,” the statement said.
The centre’s statement also confirms virus-safety is the new priority and therefore their prime focus is on being a COVID safe and ready destination.
The same Health and Safety standards applied to companies were applied at the resort through the season including temperature checks for staff and guests in combination with the required personal and company PPE standards which will soon become the norm everywhere. Other practical measures such as adjusted seating plan and mealtimes at the Sky Restaurant together with improved take away and delivery offering from Sky and Gondola are some of the measures were put in place.
Commenting on whether skiers should book to visit the resort before their season began the statement concluded,
“Our hope is that you do indeed say Yes! It is of course a risk but it is equally a vote of confidence and a step in the right direction to reclaim the world that we once knew. The resort, and indeed the entire tourism ecosystem, now depends on the faith of every single guest willing to contribute and support their favourite holiday destinations through this crazy period on planet earth.” “In the end hospitality is about people and it’s a great injustice that an entire army of individuals dedicated to social cohesion are being forced toward the abyss of extinction due to an alien in town called social distancing. We hope our guests see their holiday booking as a vote of confidence for the continuation of travel and hospitality.”
Afriski said they were granted a care and maintenance concession enabling them to keep their team on the mountain during the lockdown period to complete critical projects ahead of the coming ski season. These included the completion of a new high-altitude dam which will gravity feed a 40,000m3 water reserve into the resort’s snowmaking network which will add 50% more snowmaking capacity to their already extensive system.
*** Updated October 18th 2020 ***
New Zealand Social Distancing Requirement: 0 Metres
New Zealand Ski Areas Currently Open: 0
New Zealand has been held up as an example of how to handle the pandemic well, with few infections there.
The country has had a relatively normal season in terms of operating without the need for masks or social distancing, unlike any other country in fact, other than a period from early August to early September when restrictions were reintroduced.
Most ski areas in the country had closed by mid-October but two centres on Mt Ruapehu on the country’s North Island planned to stay open to mid-November snow permitting. They admitted defeat on 26th October however, ending New Zealand’s and the southern hemisphere’s 2020 season.
Pandemic era operations in New Zealand during 2020
The country moved to a loosened ‘level 3’ lockdown in May which meant ski centres were among bodies that could start to see staff back on the mountains, preparing for the start of the June or July seasons.
The further loosened Level 2 was reached on May 14th meaning most areas say they aim to open on schedule with all now increasingly usual anti-virus-spread measures in place.
Things continued in that happy ‘old normal’ vein’ for two almost two months when, after no new cases for 102 days, four people tested positive in Auckland, leading the NZ government to re-introduce Level 2 on 12th August, the first time the country’s ski areas had to act with social distancing and other anti-COVID measures.
These were eased again back to Level 1 on 22nd Sepember, just as ski areas began closing for the season. Way back before the start of the season Mt Ruapehu had previously announced the southern hemisphere’s earliest opening date, May 30th, for its Happy Valley snow play and learning area at Whakapapa which has all weather snowmaking. This was postponed to July 1st however.
In the event therefore Mt Hutt was the first full ski area to open, on June 12th (a week after its originally given June 5th). It also became the first ski area in the world to open with no social-distancing or other requirements (at the time and for the first two months of the season) for more than three months.
Seven centres had opened by the end of June however – the most open in the world at that point. The first boarder seen there in 2020, possibly for the entire southern hemisphere, is pictured above at Coronet Peak on May 5th. S
*** Updated 23 September 2020 ***
South Africa Social Distancing Requirement: 1.5 Metres (5 Feet)
South Africa Ski Centres Currently Open: 0
South Africa had had the highest number of coronavirus cases in Africa, as of the start of May, but decided to start easing its lockdown after five weeks at the end of April due to what was perceived as wider harm being caused by the restrictions.
The easing of restrictions allows for some limited outdoor activity but only for a few hours a day.
At the beginning of June South Africa moved to lockdown alert Level 3. Under this level, all hotels and establishments can operate only if they are providing accommodation for people travelling for business. According to the regulations at the time, no accommodation establishments or attractions were allowed to open for leisure purposes. Restrictions were eased further but at the end of June it was reported that tourism would not be allowed to restart until September.
That was further bad news for the country’s one small ski area, Tiffindell, which was due to open for is 2020 season in early June and has been snowmaking and seen some natural snowfall too. In the end though it was unable to open for 2020 making South Africa the first and only country in the world where no ski area opened for an entire season due to the virus.
Operations are currently on hold and with the season normally running to the end of August it now looks like there’l be no 2020 ski season in South Africa.
News Headlines From Earlier in the Pandemic
- Lookout Pass (48/60” / 120/150cm) was the first ski area to open for the season in Idaho for the new season, with fourteen trails open, five of them groomed. (17 November)
- Cypress Mountain is the first ski area to open in BC, Canada – but sells out of tickets. (14 November)
- Loveland announce they are opening today, 4th in Colorado (11 November).
- Keystone on target to open Friday, November 6th, as planned, but Winter Park set-back opening date to end on Month, at earliest, blaming warm weather, forest fires and the virus. (4 Nov)
- Verbier say they’ll open early, this Friday 30th October, due to the good conditions. Andermatt opening Saturday but with limited numbers allowed to maintain social-distancing. (29th October).
- Italy’s Val Senales, one of two ski areas in the country that have stayed open despite a new Italian ‘mini lockdown’ to November 24th requiring ski areas to close, says they’re staying open. “We take the current situation very seriously: that’s why we have developed a safety plan and ask our visitors to respect our safety regulations on site. Especially at this particular time we want to keep giving you the opportunity to enjoy winter sports, walk outdoors and breathe in the fresh mountain air. This year we have learned that circumstances can change at any time: if this happens, we will keep you informed on our website. In the meantime, we wish you an exciting ski season – with safety and awareness!” Of the other three other areas Cervinia closed but re-opened to racers and Passo Stelvio closed at end of season anyway. Sulden also remains open. (28 October)
- Kitzbuhel in Austria, Banff in Canada, Cervinia in Italy and Davos in Switzerland are the latest big name resorts to open for winter 20-21 under pandemic operating restrictions. 30+ ski areas now open in 10 countries. (24 October).
- Just one ski area is believed to be still open for winter 2020 in the southern hemisphere, Whakapapa on Mt Ruapehu’s on New Zealand’s North Island. It should stay open until the end of the month then its neighbour, Turoa, plans to re-open for the first half of November, conditions permitting (22 October).
- Davos has announced their Parsenn ski area will open two weeks earlier than planned, this Saturday 24th October, due to the good October snow conditions. (22 October).
- The 2020 season is finally over at the Fonna Glacier summer area in Norway, one of the first areas in the world to open after the lockdown, at the time with about 13 metres (43 feet) of snow lying. That saw it through the past five months and 171 days of operations, although with some summer snowfall top ups too. Fonna opens for next season on 15th of May 2021 (18 October)
- Less than a fortnight until the start of the North American ski season. (17 October)
- Ski season starts at Les 2 Alpes and Tignes in France as well as Idre Fjall in Sweden taking number of countries with ski areas open to nine (17 October).
- Natural snowfall and now snowmaking underway mean the start of North America’s 20-21 ski season is very close. (Oct 12).
- Mt Hutt, the first major ski area to open for 2020 southern hemisphere ski season nearly 4 months ago to the day has ended its season, most of which took place without the usual virus restrictions as New Zealand kept the virus out. Two ski areas on the country’s Mt Ruapehu are aiming to stay open into ‘Snowvember” – conditions permitting. (11 October).
- Engelberg 14th glacier in the Alps (4th in Switzerland) to open for 2020-21 ski season (9 October).
- French 20-21 ski season set to start at two glacier ski areas in a weeks’ time (9 October).
- FIS give green light to World Cup 2020-21 Season start races in Solden in a week’s time (below) (9 October).
- Turoa and Whakapapa on Mt Ruapehu in New Zealand will stay open to late-spring (mid-November) this year, snow permitting, to give kiwis that chance to hit the slopes for longer in a tough year, its operator says. (29 September).
- Badger Pass ski area, California’s oldest ski area and located within Yosemite National Park, has announced it won’t open for the 2020-21 ski season. An online statement from the resort says, “Due to ongoing concerns related to COVID-19, Badger Pass Ski Area will not open for the 2020-21 season,” but does not elaborate on why it is different here to other Californian ski areas which are opening. (23 Sepember)
- New Zealand’s ski areas have started closing for the 2020 season but most of the country, including the areas where the ski centres are, are going back down to level 1 virus restrictions, as of Tuesday 22 September, meaning face masks and social distancing are no longer required again. (21 September).
- Austria’s Pitztal Glacier has opened for the 2020 ski season. (19 September).
Sun Peaks, which operates the second largest ski area in Canada, has announced it has sold out of season passes for the coming winter. These guarantee slope access through the season when reduced numbers will be allowed on the mountain due to the pandemic – in common with most North American ski areas (18 Sept).
- Val Senales has opened for its 2020-21 ski season in Italy, joining already-open Passo Stelvio (18 September).
- Copper Mountain, usually one of the first to open for the season in North America and the world, in early November, say they’ll open a little later for 20-21, just after Thanksgiving, to avoid the risk of too many skiers on potentially limited early-season terrain. Most other North American ski areas are so far announcing usual opening dates. (6 Sept).
- Austrian ski areas confirm no social distancing needed this winter in lifts: “Mountain railways are part of public transport in Austria. Accordingly, mouth and nose protection must be worn in all closed vehicles such as gondolas and armchairs with hoods. This makes it possible to use the transport equipment with the usual capacity – e.g. 8 people in an 8-seater gondola, 6 people on a 6-seater chair, etc.),” a statement on the COVID19 pages of Austria’s Wildschonau region explains. Other Austrian resorts now have similar clarity. (3 Sept)
- Ischgl, the Austrian ski resort that found itself, more than any other, the subject of criticism as the pandemic spreads in Europe in the late winter, and is now facing a huge class-action lawsuit from those who claim they caught the virus there, have launched the most comprehensive programme to make the resort virus-free this winter. (27 August)
- A third ski area in Chile, Corralco, has announced it will open for the 2020 season this Saturday – over two months later than normal and a month before the usual end of the ski season there. (26 August)
- La Parva and El Colorado ski areas opening for pass holders from 18th and 19th August respectively, first in Chile (17th August).
- Will Chile’s ski areas, which have had some of the best snowfalls in years, be able to open at all this winter? There are a few possibly hopeful signs and they’re stressing the snow could last in to November… (15 August)
- Every ski area is taking stock as to whether they can operate safely and financially viably next winter. So far the vast majority are deciding yes, but a few have decided No. (14 August)
- Caviahue is the latest ski area in Argentina to announce it is opening for its ‘micro-region’ of local skiers. Most Argentinian ski areas are now open for local skiers. (14 August)
- An increasing number of North American ski areas say they’ll operate a ‘normal’ schedule this coming winter, but with the usual social-distancing and similar measures in place. (13 August).
- Ski areas in New Zealand are having to introduce social-distancing and other anti-COVID measures for the first time after four cases found in the country, the first for over 100 days. (12 August).
- Most ski areas in Argentina are now open. (6 August).
- With the surge in virus cases in the Australian province of Victoria now leading to a state of emergency being declared, two ski areas which had so far only managed to open for three days this season, say that’s skiing over for them now until 2021 (4 August).
- A second Argentinian ski area will open its lifts on Saturday, joining Catedral. Cerro Castor, the world’s most southerly resort, will run its lifts for the first time in 2020. (29 July).
- There are different approaches to social-distancing emerging depending on the country you’re skiing in. Some offer self-policing by skiers; others have resort-staff policing distancing and still others have actual police occasionally checking everyone is following the rules. (29 July)
- If not ‘normal’ New Zealand ski areas nonetheless appear to be having a better season than feared, with some opening daily this week due to demand having planned only weekends at this point in the season. (July 23)
- Catedral becomes the first ski area in Argentina, the Andes and South America to open for the 2020 ski season. (22 July)
- The key Jandri Express giant gondola lift which carries skiers to Europe’s largest summer ski area above les 2 Alpes in France does not require social distancing anymore, according to the resort, although face masks must be worn. This is believed to be the first time a cabin lift has been allowed to run at capacity and may be a model of how things will be allowed to work at busy resorts next winter. (17 July)
- There are now both more ski centres currently open and more kilometres of slopes open in the southern hemisphere than the northern hemisphere for the first time in 2020. (15 July)
- What’ happening at ski areas in Australia’s state of Victoria during the pandemic surge? Well it’s complicated: Mt Buller and Mt Baw Baw are staying open for now but the lifts at Mt Hotham and Falls Creek are closed for at least six weeks. HOWEVER the resorts themselves are open for tourists and back country skiers, for example. The good news is it’s snowing, a lot. Here’s our summary. (12 July)
- It just keeps snowing in the Andes. This would have been one of the best winters this century if resorts were not closed by the pandemic. Corralco is one of several reporting bases now nearly 5m/17 feet. One sign of light Cerro Castor, the world’s most southerly resort, has re-opened its base area to locals and is allowing backcountry skiing. (12 July)
- Is there light at the end of the tunnel in the Andes? Cerro Castor down near Tierra del Fuego in Argentina and the world’s most southerly developed ski area has opened its resort base and ice rink to local people in the province. It is believed it is the first ski area in the Andes to also permit back country skiing this winter, although its lifts are not running and it’s open to locals only. (12 July)
- Falls Creek and Hotham ski areas in Australia have closed for at least 10 days due to a surge in virus cases in Victoria. Mt Baw Baw will open weekends, Mt Buller will make a decision tomorrow. (July 9)
- Positive signs from Argentina as one ski area re-opens some facilities to locals …although not yet its ski slopes. (July 9)
- With Mt Hotham and Falls Creek now open after fresh weekend snowfall, all of Australia’s major ski areas (Except Selwyn Snow Resort, rebuilding this year after bush fires damage) are now open for 2020. (July 7).
- With travel restrictions easing, innovative instructor Warren Smith is going ahead with summer ski courses on the glacier above Zermatt later this month. (July 7)
- Switzerland has made wearing masks compulsory on public transport – which includes cable cars, gondolas and funiculars in ski resorts. This initially affects skiers at the only Swiss area open, Zermatt, but Saas Fee is due to join them this coming weekend. (July 6)
- It’s turning in to one of the snowiest starts to winter in years in the Andes with base depths already nearly 4 metres (13 feet). Very sad it’s not safe for the ski areas in Argentina and Chile to open. (July 6)
- North American ski resorts say that as we look ahead to winter 2020-21 it’s important to consider the positives of a ski holiday whilst being aware of what’s likely to be different next season. (July 2)
- With Chile’s state-of-emergency extended by another three months to the middle-of-September, the final weeks of the normal ski season, there are increasing doubts that ski areas will be able to open there in 2020. (June 30).
- South Africa eases lockdown but says tourism businesses won’t be able to open until September – this appears to be bad news for the country’s ski area, Tiffindell, where the ski season usually runs to the end of August. (June 30)
- Mt Buller in Australia has opened with visitors to the resort receiving an SMS notification to generate a streamlined QR code registration process on arrival at the slopes. The new technology will be important if required for contact tracing, simple and effective,” a resort spokesperson said. (June 24).
- Hotham in Australia says it will delay the opening of its ski lifts for the 2020 snow season until 6 July (conditions permitting) due to challenging early-season conditions, not the virus. (June 24)
- Portillo in Chile announces its planned opening date, already set back a month of July 19th, has now been “suspended indefinitely” whilst better news is awaited in the Andes. (June 23)
- Australia’s 2020 ski season has started, the third southern hemisphere ski nation to open for 2020. (22 June)
- Ski areas have now re-opened in 10 countries but social-distancing requirements on the slopes and using lifts vary. The distances change frequently but at time of writing they’re believed to be 1 Metre (3.3 Feet) Austria, France and Italy; 1.5 Metres (5 Feet) in Australia and Norway; 1.8 Metres (6 Feet) in the USA and 2 Metres (6.7 Feet) in Switzerland. In Lesotho and New Zealand there’s no social-distancing requirement. (June 22).
- Several ski areas in Argentina and Chile are warning backcountry skiers that they should not be hiking up to ski slopes in the Andes during the ongoing lockdown there. They warn there’s been no avalanche prevention measures and there are currently no rescue or medical staff on site whilst resorts are closed. (June 17).
- Some Australian ski areas are noting that limited snow cover may be an issue for slope access when resorts open next week, as much as limited numbers due to the pandemic. (June 17).
- Australian ski areas to initially operate at 50% capacity and with 1.5 metre social distancing in place when they open for the season next week. (June 16).
- With usual ski season start date now here, ski areas in Argentina, Chile and South Africa yet to find out when or if they’ll be able to open for winter 2020. (June 16).
- It has been snowing in the Andes but there’s no news yet when areas in Argentina and Chile will be able to open. Ski Portillo Chile say they hope for good news soon but have set back their opening day to July 18. (June 13) .
- Lift ticket sales website crashes as Australian resort opens ahead of season start due to high demand. (June 12)
- Norway’s Stryn Glacier has opened a fortnight later due to delays digging out the access road from spring snowfall (June 12).
- New Zealand’s 2020 ski season has begun a week later than originally planned with Mt Hutt opening with no social distancing or off-slope mask wearing required. (June 12)
- New Zealand’s ski areas to operate normally without social distancing when season starts on Friday after lockdowns there eased further. (June 9)
- Italy’s first lift-served skiing for more than three months will resume at Passo Stelvio on 13th June after the government allowed it to open to the public earlier than expected. (June 9).
- Crystal Mountain has joined Arapahoe Basin in announcing it will close again tomorrow, 7 days after it re-opened. Beartooth Basin and Timberline Lodge ski areas remain open through June in the US. (June 6).
- Southern hemisphere’s 2020 ski season gets underway with Afriski in Lesotho first to officially open slopes. (June 6)
- Cervinia has announced that ski lifts will re-open to the public on June 20th, earlier than expected (June 5th).
- After snowless May, Arapahoe Basin announces closing for season on Sunday June 7th. (June 5th)
- Australian media has noted that one of the first resorts there to publish 2020 winter season pricing has increased the lift ticket cost by 20% in a bid to cover the impact of having fewer skiers allowed on the staff but needing to employ more staff due to the virus. (June 4th)
- Val d’Isere publish details of their glacier opening on Saturday. Among pandemic spread prevention measures ticket sales will be limited to 500 a day initially and must be bought online at least 48 hours in advance.(June 3rd).
- Whistler’s Blackcomb Glacier won’t open for summer skiing this year. (June 2nd)
- Italy’s Passo Stelvio expected to open for international race team training, but not public access, from June 3rd. Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova and upcoming star Alice Robinson from New Zealand are also reported to be expected to be training there according to Italian media (June 1st).
- Japan’s Gassan ski area re-opens until July. (June 1)
- With Australia’s 2020 season only days away at least one resort says it has sold out of its current quota of lift tickets for much of the season, and bans snowballing. (June 19).
- Cervinia opens for summer skiing from 20th June and has announced it will be open to the end of September, about three weeks later than usual. Tignes re-opens too (June 19).
- Australian ski resorts firm-up 2020 season opening dates – with most opening on June 22nd or June 24th. (May 29)
- In an unexpected move, the Swiss ski resort of Crans Montana has announced it will be re-opening for a nine-day period from 6-14 June (May 28th).
- Crystal Mountain in Washington State is sixth US area to re-open since pandemic, and will be one of four in the country open on June 1st. (May 28)
- Kitzsteinhorn says it will have a terrain park when it re-opens tomorrow. (May 28)
- Zermatt says there’ll be no limit on the number of people on the slopes when the resort re-opens for year-round snowsports on 6th June. (26 May)
- Australia’s province Victoria says resorts there can open from June 22nd (25 May).
- Hintertux announces it will have 26km of runs open and a base of over 3 metres (10 feet) when it re-turns to year-round ski operations on Friday 29 May. (24 May)
- Leading South American ski resort Las Lenas says it won’t open this winter due to the pandemic, even if Argentina’s lockdown eased (22 May).
- Riksgransen is to re-open for midnight-sun skiing over midsummers weekend in late June.
- Mont St Sauveur in Quebec Canada says it will open its summer snow park if permission granted by province’s leaders (May 21st).
- Les 2 Alpes has confirmed it expects to open its glacier for summer skiing to those able to get there safely on June 27th, a week later than originally planned (May 20th).
- Australian ski areas have begun confirming they won’t be able to open for the season from June 6th as planned, however the loosening of the lockdown in New South Wales has raised hopes that the opening won’t be too much delayed (May 20th).
- Although re-starting its operations, Killington has decided ‘on balance’ not to re-open for late-May snowsports on its Superstar trail, although the snow is there and it would usually open to the end of the month in a normal season. (May 20th)
- It remains unknown whether Chile’s season can start on time, Portillo is offering 100% refund guarantee or free re-booking for 2021 for those who want to reserve a place in the hope that they will (May 20th).
- Mt Ruapehu confirms Whakapapa ski area won’t open May 30th, earliest New Zealand ski area opening currently Mt Hutt on June 12th. (May 19th)
- Ski areas in South American Andes appear unlikely to open for 2020 season before July (May 18th).
- Mt Hutt delays season start by a week from planned June 5th date to June 12th, Coronet Peak will open June 26th.
- Following a new agreement with their government, ski areas in New Zealand will be able to open for the 2020 season next month with no limit on the number of people on the hill. However several centres have announced their planned opening dates are delayed and that opening will be weekends-only for much of the season (May 16).
- Mt Bachelor joins Timberline in Oregon to announce it is re-opening, from 16 May, but in its case only for nice days and only for season-pass holders. Both areas sell out of lift tickets very fast (15 May).
- New Zealand moves to ‘Level 2’ lockdown making it possible for ski-areas to open for the season in June and July (14 May).
- Colorado decision on re-opening ski-areas now due May 25th, Appears only Arapahoe Basin may still re-open (14 May). Austria’s Kaunertal is 4th in the country to announce 2020 summer skiing, although for only 9 days… (13 May).
- Kanin ski area in Slovenia re-opening May 14th (13 May).
- Timberline ski area in Oregon, USA, to re-open on 15th May (13 May).
- Austria’s Hintertux glacier will re-open for snowsports on 29th May.
- Chamonix re-opens mountains for ski touring, with restrictions.
- Aiguille du Midi cable car to resume operation at the weekend.
- Italian Summer Ski Centre ready to open from June 1st exclusively for national team training if permission given.
- Norwegian ski areas that had re-opened in April begin closing again due to natural season end.
- Austria’s Molltal glacier second in country to confirm summer ski opening – from 6th June.
- Italy’s Cortina d’Ampezzo offering free ski holidays to the country’s health workers
2020 Calendar Archive
June 1: Beartooth Basin summerski area in US opened for 2020.
June 1: Crystal Mountain in Washington State, opens for summer skiing.
June 5: Mt Hutt scheduled to open in New Zealand (delayed to June 12th).
June 5: Stryn glacier new season start date (delayed again to June 12th).
June 6: Zermatt re-opens. Crans Montana re-opens ski slopes for 9 days.June 6: Austria’s Molltal glacier opens for 2020-21 ski season.
June 7: Tiffindel, South Africa, aimed to start season (but could not).
June 7: Arapahoe Basin, Crystal Mountain and Kaunertal end ski seasons.
June 12: First full scale southern hemisphere ski resort starts 2020 season – Mt Hutt in NZ.
June 13: Italy’s ski-season restarts at Passo Stelvio.
June 18: Riksgransen in Swedish Arctic Circle re-opening for midsummer skiing.
June 20: Tignes aims to open for summer skiing.
June 20: Cervinia provides ski lift access to Zermatt’s glacier as borders reopen.
June 22: Thredbo and Mt Baw Baw season start.
June 24: Perisher and Mt Buller season start.
June 26: Charlotte Pass opens for 2020 season.
June 27: Les 2 Alpes to open for summer skiing for all.
Please note that we are a ski and snowboarding information site and exist to provide snowfall information to people who love skiing and snowboarding …whether we’re in lockdown due to a pandemic or not. By endeavouring to provide information on what is open or opening we are certainly NOT implying that now is the time to try to break through closed borders to travel to the slopes. But there will be a time in the future when we can travel again, and we think most people can cope with knowing the truth about the current state of the ski world, and dream about getting back to it when safe to do so. That’s what we’re here for.