Grateful to ski this season… that’s me …the eternal optimist. There will be significant changes to your ski day – starting with making a resy for your spot on the mountain and many ski resorts, Epic Pass holders, in advance. Good luck picking your powder days! The upside will likely be less skiers on your downhill runs.
Next big change is booting up in the parking lot. I hear the moans and groans of you boot baggers that like to enter the base lodge, have a hot coffee, a chat, a bathroom break and boot up in the comfort of a warm lodge chair, then stash your bulky bag under a table, in a cubby or locker. That’s over and done. If you aren’t seasoned with the outside boot-up scene, here is how to put on your ski boots in the parking lot…plus other Covid ski season protocols.
1. Keep you ski boots warm during your commute. Get yourself a Kulkea Thermal Trekker Boot Bag and your ski boots will stay warm and toasty during your commute! Another options is Seirus Hot Ratz that similarly plug into a DC (cigarette lighter) outlet. At minimum start with warm dry ski or snowboard boots at home, then place them near a car heater so the plastic remains malleable and the liner stays toasty. Do not place your ski boots in your car the night before (duh)!
2. Wear your ski socks from home, the condo. You don’t want to be naked footed in the cold switching out socks in the snow or “snirt” (you know the snow, salt, dirt combo you encounter at ski area parking lots).
3. One boot at a time. If booting up inside your car is too confined, not enough space, open your car door and stand between the seat and door (read: wind protection and a door handle for stability). Keep your street shoe on until you’ve unbuckled and opened one ski boot widely. Slide in your ski sock foot, settle your heel back, and buckle up immediately. The Trick? Don’t put your foot down… don’t overthink it. Repeat with your other foot. I suggest starting with your dominant leg first, stronger, more stable.
4. Once booted up, suit up. Finish dressing – hat, helmet, gloves, grab your gear and walk to the lift. See that wasn’t so bad outside the base lodge.
5. Mask Up! Yes, masks are mandatory at most ski areas, when waiting in lift line, loading and riding lifts, entering and exiting a lodge. The new NSAA, National Ski Area Assoc., Ski Safe Be Safe campaign is easily adapted to our ski attire, we often wear goggles and a face covering.
6. If you arrive together, ride together is another NSAA campaign slogan, encouraging family and friends in your safety bubble to carpool and to share a chair or gondola to reduce lift line waits. Ride with your Party is another term you will hear.
7. Pack a snack. Lodge dining will be limited, so flashback to your youth when you skied with a samwich or a smart bar in your jacket pocket to munch on the lift ride.
8. Pee outside! Access to restrooms in base lodges and on-mountain will also be limited, so guys – go find a tree. Ladies, good luck. Please be discreet, read: tuck in the woods. No one wants to see that, or ski on yellow snow.
9. Tailgate! Party in the Parking Lot! Ski resorts are actually encouraging you to enjoy a little après ski in the parking lot, since bars and live bands at Sunday River’s Foggy Goggle and Vail’s Red Lion may not be the same. So plan and pack accordingly, enjoy some camaraderie by your car or truck with your own food and bev cooler and tunes – totally on budget by the way. Designate a DD, be respectful, responsible, and head home before dark.
10. Be kind, be patient, be appreciative that we get to enjoy some alpine exhilaration even though it means booking head, social distancing, no singles lines, and sidelined après ski plan.