Kimberley Alpine Resort announced this week that they will open one day earlier than their original planned date for opening, and so the 2020-21 ski season officially kicks off on Friday, Dec. 11.
“Mother Nature came through and kept temperatures cooler than were forecasted, which meant we were able to increase our snow production on the Main over the last week,” said Ted Funston, Ski Area Manager with KAR. “When we realized that we were close to getting it skiable, we thought we should go for the early opening and get people skiing and riding.”
Funston added that opening early gives seasons pass holders an opportunity to start to see how things at the hill will operate this year, with the addition of their many new COVID-19 safety protocols.
“We encourage people to go to our website to check out our new COVID safety protocols before coming up to the resort,” Funston said. “It is good for people to know what we are doing to try to keep people as safe as we can, and we want people to know how things are going to be different this winter.”
The main thing to know, he added, is that masks are mandatory from the time people get out of their cars, travel through the base area, go into any of KAR’s facilities, or when in lift lineups, while riding chairs and getting off chairs. The resort also asks that people maintain a safe physical distance at all times, especially when in lineups.
“We expect that line-ups are going to be longer this winter as capacities on the lifts will be reduced since people will not be asked to ride with people they don’t choose to,” Funston explained. “Plus keeping a two-metre distance between groups will extend lines.”
The resort also asks that guests put their boots on and gear up at their cars, and then leave their bags there. Due to COVID-19, KAR is unable to store your bags inside. They also won’t be offering brown bag eating areas this weekend.
However, this winter they will be adding a light breakfast and Starbuck’s Coffee to the Stemwinder Bar and Grill, rather than having people enter the Slopeside.
Buckhorn and Main will be running their Express Lunch and will also be open for lunch and dinner service through the weekend.
“Due to limited capacities in our restaurants this winter we recommend people going online to make reservations for these restaurants,” Funston said. “We will also be running the BBQ through the weekend, so people can stay outside and get some food to go.”
Friday will see the Northstar Quad Chair and the Magic Carpet lifts operating, and KAR plans get people skiing on the backside of the mountain as soon as possible.
“We are not far off from getting things on the backside open,” Funston said. “Our crews did a great job this summer cutting alder, and our cat crew got on top of the snow when it fell in November creating a great base, so we don’t need much more natural snow to get it ridable. There is actually some snow in the forecast so we are hopeful that it won’t be long.”
Funston added that the resort can’t wait to see everyone this weekend and that they’re optimistic for a great season ahead, even though it will look a little different this year.
“We really feel that skiing and riding can be part of the solution during the pandemic,” he said. “But we are going to need everyone’s help and understanding that things are going to be different, and we are all going to have to adapt and keep each other safe. There are lots of wide open spaces out there, and there’s going to be lots of fun to be had, but we will need everyone’s help with the new protocols.”