Resorts Glide Into Ski Season After Abrupt March End

STATE COLLEGE PA – Americans across the country satisfied their craving for turkey and stuffing last week at Thanksgiving. Now skiers locally and nationwide are itching to satisfy cravings for the slopes, as ski resorts are planning openings for the first time since March.

The official start of winter is still a few weeks away, with the winter solstice on Dec. 21, but some ski resorts – particularly in western Pennsylvania – are already experiencing winter-like conditions.

By comparison, according to State College-based AccuWeather, temperatures in southeast Pennsylvania are expected Saturday (Dec. 5, 2020) from a low of 30 to a high of 45, and Sunday (Dec. 5) from a low of 25 to a high of 41. A rain-only storm is forecast Friday night (Dec. 4) and Saturday.

AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok predicts most regions of the U.S. with a strong ski industry should do “fairly well” this year in terms of weather cooperation. He said the Northeast, despite warm-ups forecast throughout the season, can anticipate a few nor’easters to keep snow fresh on the slopes.

The website for Spring Mountain Adventures, in Spring Mount PA near Schwenksville, happily proclaims it “will be open for the winter ski and snowboard season!” Its instructors’ training course is scheduled for Dec. 12-13, and pre-season office hours for pass photos and program registrations are promoted for this Saturday and Sunday from 12-4 p.m. daily.

Bear Creek Mountain Resort in Macungie PA, outside Allentown, promises to “be ready to open” as soon as it’s able to cover the mountain in snow. Its Rental and Tune Shop is currently open for seasonal rentals and equipment tuning. Although a ’20-’21 opening day is yet to be announced, Bear Creek said it is moving all day ticket sales to online so it can better control crowds for health and safety.

At Shawnee Mountain Ski Area in East Stroudsburg PA, a 90-minute drive from Pottstown, snowmaking is planned “as temperatures permit.” Its instructor trainings are scheduled for the coming weekend and Dec. 12-13 as well.

Prepare for COVID-19 precautions on the slopes

After COVID-19 forced resorts to close prematurely last spring, skiers are welcoming the start to the season. As the pandemic continues, though, ski slopes will look a little different this season. Social distancing and other coronavirus prevention measures are taking center stage.

When guests show up at almost any resort, industry observers say, they’re likely to see a variety of new signage and COVID protocols, in everything from how cars are parked, to lifts loaded, to how (and how many) people are allowed in and out of lodges.

Aside from when guests are actually skiing or riding the lifts, skiers may be required to wear masks at all times. Reservations are becoming musts at some resorts. Because access to some lodges may be limited compared to previous seasons, guests should also plan to be more self sufficient. Bring a snack and water bottle with you to the slopes, resort marketers suggest.

Photo supplied by AccuWeather