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Snow is falling at Inland NW ski resorts. Here's how the season will look different this year

Schweitzer Mountain says season passes are going at record levels, which will require them to limit the number of daily lift tickets they're able to sell.
Credit: Schweitzer Mountain

Skiers around the Inland Northwest are getting excited to hit the slopes as ski resorts prepare to open for the season.

However, like everything, ski season is going to look different this year amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Here are some of the changes you can expect when you go skiing this year. 

Schweitzer Mountain: 

Schweitzer Mountain released a statement earlier in September outlining some of the changes the resort has made to their operations due to COVID-19. The biggest among them: limiting day ticket sales. 

The resort says season pass sales are currently at record highs, which will "certainly require daily limits on available lift tickets in order to maintain social distancing expectations," reads a statement from Schweitzer's CEO Tom Chasse. 

The resort will use historical data broken down by day/pass type to determine how many lift tickets can be sold on any particular day. The number of lift tickets available will be dependent on how many pass holders the resort expects to ski that day. The lift tickets available to sell will be presold through the resort's e-commerce platform. 

The resort doesn't plan on selling any open-ended/flex tickets, or tickets that aren't date-specific.

Chasse went on to write that the resort will always allow guests booked through the lodge to buy lift tickets, but that the resort can't guarantee the same for people lodging through Airbnb, or partner hotels in town. 

Schweitzer is mandating face coverings in all indoor areas.

Schweitzer's season began on Nov. 27.  

Silver Mountain: 

Face coverings are required for staff and guests in all indoor spaces except when seated to eat and drink, and also outside when six feet of physical distance can't be maintained, according to the resort's operating plan. 

Mid-stay housekeeping service has been eliminated. Guests can request items be brought to their rooms if need be, according to the resort. 

Social distancing markers are in place throughout the resort, according to the operating plan. Hand sanitizers have also been placed near the elevators and front desk, among other safety measures. 

Staff and guests will be required to have their temperature taken upon entering the Silver Rapids Indoor Water Park. Capacity will be limited, guests will have to purchase passes ahead of time online. There will be no walk-up tickets sold. Cabanas will be available to reserve online. 

Masks will be required while waiting in line for the gondola. Guests will self-group and load onto gondolas with their traveling party. Single riders will be grouped together in a way that allows for physical distancing, according to the resort's operating plan. 

Lift tickets will be limited on Saturdays, Sundays and over holiday periods. Tickets during holiday periods and weekends must be purchased on line. There won't be any limits on season pass usage. Midweek non-holiday tickets will be business as usual and can be purchased at the window or online in advance, according to the resort's operating plan.  

Silver Mountain also outlined how season pass holders could be refunded should COVID-19 related closures occur for extended periods of time. 

If a closure due to the coronavirus occurs for 7 days in a row, or 25 days total between December 18 and April 3, pass holders will receive credit for those days towards a 2021-2022 season pass, according to Silver Mountain's website

An example the resort gave explained that for a 28 day closure, a pass holder would receive a $100 credit on a pass that originally cost $369. 

Lookout Pass:

Lookout Pass is the first ski resort to open this season in the Inland Northwest. The Ski resort is asking those who are sick to stay home, and for everyone to keep a six-foot distance between themselves and others. Chairlift lines will be set up to support proper social distancing. 

Lookout Pass is monitoring busy days and times during the week and will have to limit access to the ski hill on a first-come, first-served basis. Season pass holders will always be allowed access to the ski. 

Lookout Pass asks skiers to wear masks whenever proper social distancing isn't possible, both indoors and outdoors, according to the ski resort's website. Access to indoor spaces is also limited, including restrooms, locker rooms, the restaurant and bar, equipment rentals, ski school, the retail shop and other common areas. 

Lookout Pass is also not allowing guests to store get ready or store their personal items inside any of the lodges, according to their website. There will be fewer tables available, and those are only for guests who purchase food at the resort. 

Lookout Pass has also enhanced their cleaning protocols in their indoor areas, according to the website. 

49 Degrees North:

Lift tickets at 49 Degrees North will be limited to comply with COVID-19 guidelines in Washington state, according to the resort's website. The resort recommends skiers buy passes ahead of time through their online ticketing system. Season pass holders will not need to schedule or reserve days to access the mountain. 

Face masks and face coverings will be required in any indoor spaces and around base areas, and also outdoor areas where social distancing isn't possible. This will include ticketing windows and chairlift lines. 

Seated dining won't be available in any of their indoor areas. At this time the resort plans to have a grab and go food service available, including hot food options.