Following the abrupt closure of North Americans ski areas in Mid-March, many die-hard skiers and riders were anxious about when they could next get back on chairlifts. Timberline Lodge helped reignite the stoke for ski bums when they announced they would return to operation May 15th. Although we are far from being out of the woods in addressing this global pandemic, it is exciting to see the lifts turning again.
Here’s our report from a couple days sliding the Palmer snowfield this past week.
Driving up from Government Camp, ominous low hanging clouds and cold temperatures greeted our early morning cruise up to the Timberline Lodge. After months away from lift-served skiing our focus wasn’t on scoring primo conditions, but simply getting a chance to make some turns after an unusually long hiatus. In typical Mount Hood fashion as we made the final sweeping left turn into the parking lot, the clouds dissipated and the snow coated south-side of the mountain basked in the morning sun.
Even for a midweek morning it was clear the crowds were far less than previous summers and social distancing was in effect. We easily found a spot close to the day lodge, geared up and headed on inside.
Getting a lift ticket was a breeze since demand has returned to more normal levels. Timberline is no longer requiring online reservations for daily passes. This however was where we saw the most differences from visiting ski areas in the past.
Before arriving we had completed a Covid-19 specific questionnaire and made sure to pack our face masks, gloves and goggles. The friendly guest services employee sold us our passes after confirming we completed the questionnaire, understood the rules and came prepared with the right equipment.
Walking up to the Magic Mile lift the stoke was high, realizing after all the hurdles we were fortunate enough to ski once again. From the ‘Mile straight onto Palmer chairlift we ascended Hood with excellent views of the summit and watched ski racers lay hard into their edges. The first early morning lap down the public lane of Palmer was glorious. The snow was still firm but after 1500’ of GS turns our legs ached and stupid grins hid behind our masks.
Timberline lifties were on their A-game, closely monitoring skiers and riders entering the maze making sure their masks were all the way up and they stayed within their groups. Lift lines peaked through mid day at about 20 minutes for Palmer, mainly since chair rides were confined to smaller parties generally 2-3 and rarely 4.
Early morning firm conditions gave way to midday corn and we tracked lap after lap not wanting to stop for bathroom or food breaks. In the past few seasons Timberline has charged for access to their famous terrain parks, since we didn’t splurge on the upgraded lift ticket we sought out natural features and made sure to soul carve every last turn. As the ski race camps departed around noon, the snowfield opened up and we charged lap after lap till Palmer closed at 2pm.
With the upper mountain closed for the day, we skied carefully though lower mountain mashed potatoes, our legs totally fried from the most skiing we had done in nearly 4 months.
Impressively the thin snow vein down from the Magic Mile reached the parking lots and we clicked out of our skis without touching any dirt. With masks in tow we descended back to ‘Govy’ and celebrated with cold beverages at Charlie’s.
Important Info From Timberline:
RESERVATIONS ARE NO LONGER REQUIRED TO VISIT TIMBERLINE LODGE AND SKI AREA.
Visitors to the ski area still have to complete a mandatory Covid questionnaire upon arrival and observe our social distancing rules in the summer ski area. Operations may be limited or modified at any time in response to changing circumstances. There will be absolutely no refunds or rain checks.
Lift lines will be managed with 6’ social distancing. Skiers and riders will be required to wear glasses or goggles, masks and gloves. You may ride the chairlifts with those you came with, ride single or ride double on opposite sides of the chair. It will be the guests’ responsibility to ride the chairlift however they feel comfortable. Simply notify the lift attendant of your intentions and Timberline will accommodate.
A Timberline parking attendant will help with all parking. Please note, parking will not be allowed in the “shop” lot or “crescent”.
Operating hours are 7am – 2pm
Palmer, Magic Mile, and Mile Park will operate daily, weather permitting
Daily summer lift ticket is $75 (not online, must be purchased at window)
In order to minimize injuries and incidents, Timberline recommends only skilled skiers and riders visit. It is imperative guests ski and ride safely. Enjoy the ski area, but this is the time for restraint. Please be conservative and practice good judgment. We thank you in advance for respecting the responsibilities and operational parameters of our dedicated ski patrol and first responders. Visitors presenting flu-like symptoms will be treated in an emergency only.
Do not visit if you do not intend to follow these guidelines
Only visit with members of your household
Complete a Covid questionnaire provided online for skiers or at front desk for hotel guests
Wear a cloth face masks at all times indoors and when unable to maintain physical distancing outdoors
Comply with monitoring and enforcement of Covid prevention protocols throughout the resort, including current physical distancing requirement of 6’
Continue to practice exceptional hygiene
Wash hands frequently with soap and water
Use hand sanitizer when you cannot wash your hands
Report any confirmed COVID-19 exposure
Immediately notify Timberline Management if you begin to experience flu-like symptoms or test positive for COVID-19 after leaving our facility
Voice concerns, ask questions and seek clarification when necessary
Any Guest who does not strictly adhere to the guidelines will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including suspension of their day ticket, Season Pass, or issuance of a Notice of Exclusion/Trespass.