Temporary structures—including yurts—are all part of Sun Valley Resort’s new COVID-19 safety protocols at its ski areas this winter.

Skiers and snowboarders will be asked to adapt to new safety protocols at Sun Valley Resort’s two ski areas this winter, as the resort implements coronavirus mitigation measures that range from mandatory mask wearing and social distancing to changes in food service.

Sun Valley Resort released its “COVID-19 protocols” for visitors to Bald and Dollar mountains in a webinar Tuesday during the 2020 Economic Summit, an annual conference conducted by the nonprofit organization Sun Valley Economic Development.

In the online presentation, Sun Valley Resort Guest Services Manager Mike Fitzpatrick discussed highlights of the upcoming 85th ski season, including a major terrain expansion on the south side of Bald Mountain and a new app that provides up-to-date information on weather, grooming and trails.

In presenting new safety protocols for the ski areas, Fitzpatrick said the resort has not only developed measures to protect guests from spreading respiratory viruses, but is also developing new, temporary structures on the mountains to offer convenient services in a safe manner.

The protocols and changes to services include:

  • Implementing “ghost lanes” in lift lines so skiers and snowboarders can maintain proper distancing. The empty lanes will divide lanes designated for small groups recreating together and solo skiers.
  • In a quad chairlift, two singles can ride on opposite ends of the chair and a family or self-identified group of friends can ride together. Two singles can also ride together in a gondola cabin, but on opposite sides only.
  • In accordance with federal Centers for Disease Control guidelines and local health orders, face coverings must be worn in lift lines, while loading and unloading lifts, inside all buildings except while eating or drinking, and outside when skiers and boarders can’t maintain 6-foot social-distancing guidelines. Masks will also need to be worn during all SnowSports lessons.
  • Guests must practice social distancing by getting ready for the day at their vehicle, not in day lodges, and staying 6 feet from people not in their group. Seating capacity at all mountain lodges and restaurants will be reduced, with simplified menus to streamline operations. Reservations will be taken for the Roundhouse restaurant and Averill’s, on Bald Mountain.
  • The resort will employ enhanced cleaning and hygiene measures. Employees’ health will be checked and recorded daily, with quarantine protocols if necessary. Public areas and surfaces will be disinfected regularly. Employees will be required to wear face coverings when dealing with guests and other staff.
  • Portable food stations will offer “grab-and-go” snacks and meals, with locations at the base areas.
  • No ski packs can be stored inside day lodges at the ski areas. Designated storage areas and bag checks at the base areas will be offered to store gear in a “safe, secure and sanitary” manner, the resort stated.
  • Rental services and ski/snowboard lessons will be offered, with safety measures.
  • Yurts are being installed at Bald and Dollar mountains, including one for the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation at the base of Warm Springs, two for Sun Valley Ski Patrol on Baldy, and three at Dollar Mountain for the SnowSports program, lost-and-found services and Higher Ground programs for veterans and disabled people.

Sun Valley is not requiring guests to make reservations to ski or snowboard, unlike some other major ski resorts in the West.

Fitzpatrick also explained why resort officials chose the name Sunrise for its new 380-acre expansion on Bald Mountain, set to open this winter. The area—which includes formerly out-of-bounds terrain called Turkey Bowl—is the first location on Bald Mountain to be hit by the sun on the winter solstice, Fitzpatrick said. He noted that the winter solstice is the birthday of the resort, which first opened for skiing 85 years ago. Turkey Bowl is now called Sunrise Bowl.

“It’s the right name at the right time,” Fitzpatrick said.  

Additional reporting by Emily Jones.

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