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Uphill Travel Still a No Go

Categories: COVID Guest Connection Media Center

Mt. Hood from the north side showing off Cooper SpurWith the announcement that Timberline will begin limited lift operations, there has been questions about whether Mt. Hood Meadows will operate lifts or allow uphill travel. At this time, our status is unchanged. We’ve already announced that we won’t be running lifts - we are beyond our season which would have ended May 2. Our primary lifts are being serviced with annual lift maintenance.

We are awaiting the guidance the Governor’s office is expected to provide for ski areas regarding ski area operations and at this time there is still a closure for public access to Mt. Hood National Forest recreation sites. We will evaluate uphill travel once the closures have been lifted and we will clearly state the guidelines for responsible uphill travel on our site.

As we mentioned in our last blog, our focus is on next winter. Our Readiness Task Force has been charged with presenting operational plans designed to prevent or reduce the risk of spreading the infection. But there is still much about the virus and the way it is spread that is unknown. We will be deliberate and methodical in our approach to any operations at Meadows with the health and well being of our team and our guests set as the highest priority.

We understand there is pent up demand for outdoor recreation, and in fact, that is one of our greatest concerns. We’ve seen how rural sites have been overwhelmed by those seeking this access and outlet. While Hood River County's reopening plan for Phase One has been approved, as recent as last weekend was publicly asking visitors to stay home (see Willamette Week article). Even if Hood River County enters Phase One, it is not known whether it will be ready to invite visitors to public spaces. Clackamas County has yet to submit for reopening.

We will be watching closely as Timberline offers limited lift operations and how the process requiring advance reservations for each day works. For them, this would be part of their normal season so it makes sense for them to operate; but this is not a return to normal. Timberline has announced very strict protocols and rules that begins in the parking lot. Their success will require the recreating public to comply with all the social distancing measures and viral spread reduction rules the ski area has required in order to operate. Know that it will be a completely different experience from normal operations and that their future operations is entirely dependent on everyone cooperating.

Keep in mind, even if the "at the ski area" experience goes splendidly, the impacts of travelers on local communities will also be studied. We encourage all the skiers and snowboarders visiting ski areas or heading into the back country to be considerate when traveling through rural communities.