[Opening photo: Skiing at the Trapp Family Lodge trails on March 15, 2020. Photo by Lisa Lynn]
All of Vermont’s alpine ski areas may be closed but that hasn’t stopped skiers and splitboarders from skinning. On a recent sunny day, the slopes at Sugarbush seemed almost busy as skiers and riders freeheeled it up.
And with snow forecasted at higher elevations for tonight through tomorrow, there may be some fresh (though far from powdery) tracks to be had.
That said, resort operators and rescue personnel alike are waving the caution flag. With no ski patrols on duty and limited personnel available for search and rescue operations, skinning and skiing is done at your own risk. In addition, several resorts may be doing trail work so be aware of snowcats and other machinery. Lodges and all other facilities are closed and social distancing (e.g. no parking lot tailgating) is encouraged.
Cross-country centers have also closed their base lodges but several of them are continuing to groom and welcoming visitors.
At the Trapp Family Lodge Outdoor Center, trails were dotted with both skiers and sap buckets “the only two parts of our business that have been minimally impacted,” says Sam von Trapp, the senior vice-president of the resort. “Our Outdoor Center is open and we are seeing a lot of happy, smiling faces,” he added. With tomorrow’s warm temperatures the trail may close and it will be the last day for the Slayton Pasture Cabin to be open (cold food only). “But if it snows again we’ll start grooming and probably won’t be charging for skiing then,” says von Trapp.
At Rikert Nordic Center in Ripton, the ski area is technically closed. But, according to the ski area’s director Barney Hodges. “We are still allowing people to use the trail systems only. Relative to Covid 19- we would urge any users to employ all social distancing techniques available. We will not be grooming the trails for the remainder of the year, and we do not have ski patrol on duty and ski center is closed to the public for any use. There is about 5km of man-made snow on the trails and the skiing is pretty decent considering.”
“We’re not open, but we’re grooming the core trails and Ruthie’s and Sam’s,” says Sheldon Miller of the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, on Friday, March 20. “We sealed up the 2021 manmade pile up for November the other day too,” he notes, referring to the novel way Craftsbury has developed to keep piles of snow frozen over the summer by covering them with wood chips and then using that snow as an early season base.”
Yet, by the next day, things had changed. A new notice appeared on the Craftsbury web site: Effective Sunday, March 22: We had hoped to keep some trails groomed as long as the snow allowed, but we now feel forced to close for the following reasons:
Skiers are not keeping “social distance” (6 ft) from each other. This is critical behavior for all of us to follow at all times. Skiers are gathering in groups to socialize. Even a group smaller than 10 people is at increased risk of sharing germs. We appear to be attracting folks from outside our VT community and this does not seem like a good idea at this time. So, effective Sunday, March 22, we will no longer groom our trails and we ask you not to come to ski. We do this in the best interest of the health of the COC community. Stay healthy!
However, says Miller, “We’re working on at-home workout videos and content.” Tecently, the Center, which is known as a training center for cross-country skiing, rowing and running, did a Strava at-home run challenge as a way to “take the 6-foot social distancing rule a step further and tackle solo running, together!”
The challenge, which started yesterday and runs through March 18, is to conquer 6 runs on 6 different days of the week on 6 different routes. All runs must be solo, by honor policy. Craftsbury also has some bonus incentives (see below) to help keep you entertained.
How to participate:
1. Join the Strava club Run Craftsbury.
2. Record your runs and tag your Strava activities with #solosix and #runcraftsbury.
3. Participants will receive 1 point for each tagged activity (up to 6). *Runs must be set to the “public” setting in order to participate.
4. Bonus points. Participants may earn – 1 bonus point per each activity run at 6:00AM or 6:00PM. 1 bonus point per activity description that notes 6 of something you saw on the run. 6 bonus points if the total mileage of your tagged runs adds up to 36 miles.
5. Each earned point is an entry in your name into the random prize drawing. We’ll pick one lucky challenge participant to receive a surprise gift from Craftsbury.