LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (KTXL) — The weekend snowfall in the Lake Tahoe area may not seem like much — around 6 inches or so at lake level and up to a foot at the higher elevations — but the mere hint of a normal ski season after a dry October and beginning of November has resorts gearing up for the new season.
Ski resorts like Homewood Mountain Resort are now making snow when temperatures allow to add to the latest snowfall.
“It gets people super excited, I know I’m super excited. I know our guests are getting pumped up for the season as well,” said Lisa Nigon, marketing director at Homewood.
There is a lot less anxiety for ski resorts once the first significant snow of the season hits the ground. But once the ski season opens in earnest in the weeks to come, operations for many of them will be significantly different.
Homewood has been planning for a COVID-19 ski season since the summer.
The ski resort limited season ticket sales to 25% of capacity, having just sold out their season ticket allotment Monday, weeks before their Dec. 11 opening date.
Ticket windows will also be closed with daily tickets only being sold online and fewer tickets available each day.
“We’re also limiting our lift ticket sales every day of the season to really make sure that we can ensure social distancing not only on the mountain but on the base areas too,” Nigon explained.
Homewood’s goal of fewer guests per acre can be a good thing for skiers who will see fewer crowds on the resort’s 61 runs.
Another possible benefit is buying food will be done by phone app instead of in the lodge.
“You could be skiing on the chairlift, make your order online, get a notification when your food and beverage is ready, go and pick it up and keep skiing,” Nigon said.
This year Homewood is also encouraging guests to make their car their lodge since the lodge will have limited capacity. Luckily, its parking lot is unusually close to the base of its runs.
Ski lift rules have also been modified.
“If you come as a family, jump on the chairlift together, or if you come as a single, just ride alone,” explained Nigon.
No one knows how cover operational changes will work but resorts are looking forward to more snow this coming weekend.
“I believe they’re talking about it up to a foot, maybe more, and then it looks the pattern could be lining up really well for the rest of the month too,” said Nigon.
Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has also announced they will open beginning Wednesday, Nov. 25.