SNOQUALMIE, Wash. - Skiiers and snowboarders, rejoice! The closest ski resort to Seattle, the Summit at Snoqualmie officially opened for the season on Friday. And while it's great news for winter sports enthusiasts, just like other resorts in the state, there are restrictions because of the pandemic. If you do plan on heading up, the key, is to plan ahead.
On a Blue Friday, it was absolutely bluebird conditions on the first day for Summit at Snoqualmie. According to Guy Lawrence, general manager of the resort, it has gone smoothly. There are smaller crowds as the resort is only currently open to season pass holders, but they are doing all they can to make sure the experience is a fun and safe one.
For Susan Newland of Redmond, she couldn't wait to get onto to slopes at the resort.
"Yay!", she said.
Newland was able to get her season pass during the spring. That ended up being a smart move, as passes are limited because of COVID restrictions and availability. And because of state and CDC guidelines, she has noticed differences compared to last winter.
"I noticed that you can buy food outside, so you can stay outside to eat," she said. "They also told everybody that if you want to have lunch and hang out with your family instead of congregating in big groups."
And that's what you can expect when you come up this year as well. Several changes are taking place to make sure guests are safe.
"The fact is, you're going to have limited lodge access," said Lawrence. "So have that extra layer in your backpack, have some extra stuff in the car, just being more self-sufficient this year."
Other changes include going cashless, only allowing purchases via smartphone or debt/credit card. Face coverings are required at all times. When it comes to lift lines, that will be different too.
"For single riders on a quad chair, you'll be bookended from side to side," said Lawrence, "If it's a travelling party that came together, they of course, can populate the entire chair."
It's been rough on pass sales as well. Not from a demand perspective, according to Lawrence. But more so from an availability aspect. Because of restrictions, the resort had to limit season pass availability. Earlier this week, the resort's online store crashed. It was disappointing, said Lawrence, and he understand's customer's frustrations.
"Normally, we'd be full-tilt selling passes right now, making people happy, and everyone happy. My team, we're struggling with this to be honest," he said.
The resort is doing all it can to make sure it's a safe and fun experience, including wiping down chairs and tables and santizing inside spaces as much as they can.
The advice from Lawrence is to plan ahead as much as possible, including buying lift tickets. Right now, lift tickets are being sold as runs are only available to passholders, but over the coming days that could change as more snow falls. Capacity will still be reduced however, he said.
Despite the restrictions, snow enthusiasts on opening day said it's just great to be outside. And it won't stop them from coming up more.
"We're all wearing masks on. I'm not running into anybody, so it's pretty cool," said Davey McKernan of Issaquah.
For more on the latest at the resort, visit: www.summitatsnoqualmie.com