Do’s and Don’ts for lift lines and rides this winter
Special to the Daily
Following lift line etiquette is like being a good neighbor: It just makes life easier. Take, for instance, a bluebird powder day: the sun is shining, 8-plus inches of snow blankets the bowls and wild animal tracks zigzag through the forest.
But then, a few skiers and riders behind you start to get pushy, cutting a closed lane, or literally walking over your skis, trying to shove their way in front of you. Suddenly, your blissful Zen state turns into an urban jungle brawl, and it takes an entire lift ride up to get back into your joyful flow. Meanwhile, you completely miss the magic of those fox tracks.
Adhering to simple do’s and don’ts in lift lines not only makes a difference in how much you can enjoy your day on the mountain, but also, this year, it can be the difference in whether or not the resorts remain open. This season’s additional lift-line regulations to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have kept the ski resorts open, and running smoothly. They’re pretty basic, but nevertheless, important.
“In order to stay open for the entire season, we must wear a mask, stay physically distant and follow all state and local guidance,” said Alex Tiltman, senior manager of lift operations at Beaver Creek. “These policies are in place for you, the staff and our community to stay safe and to enjoy the season of riding and skiing.”
So, here’s a roundup of lift-line do’s and don’ts, for COVID-19 safety, and beyond.
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Do: Wear a mask with more than a single layer while standing in line, loading and unloading and riding chairlifts and gondolas.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says people age 2 and older should wear masks. It states that multi-layer cloth masks can block up to 50-70% of fine droplets and particles, and some studies show they block upwards of 80% of respiratory droplets. Studies show masks reduce a wearer’s exposure to infectious droplets and help prevent viral transmission.
Don’t: Let your mask hang off your nose.
Have you ever seen a photograph of droplets flying everywhere from a sneeze? If not, look it up; it’s a great visual to remind you that stuff flies from your mouth and your nose. Keep the schnoz fully covered. And, please, no chin diapers.
Do: Maintain social distance.
We’ve all heard it before: Stand 6 feet apart. According to the CDC, COVID-19 spreads among people in close contact (within or less than 6 feet) for a prolonged period of time, particularly when an infected person sneezes, coughs or talks. That launches infectious droplets into the air. Keeping your ski and board tips off the person’s tail in front of you usually fulfills the 6-foot requirement. Blue ribbons also mark 6-foot placement within the maze.
Don’t: Cut through lift-line ropes or dead space.
They’re there for a reason — specifically, to keep people physically distanced.
Do: Ask to ride up with others, and leave an open seat.
Leave at least one seat open between unrelated parties. If you’re riding up with an unrelated party, ask first. Each person has different comfort levels during this COVID-19 crisis, so be courteous, and ask if a stranger minds if you join their chair. If they say “no,” don’t take it personally.
Don’t: Eat or drink in line.
To get to your mouth, you gotta move your mask. Don’t do it in line or on the lift — not even if you’re with your own party, Tiltman said. Vail Resorts has designated places to eat and drink, on outdoor decks and open space. You can also scarf down that energy bar if you stand off to the side of the run, facing the trees.
Don’t: Fill a chair or gondola with unrelated parties.
Some people want to make the lift-lines move faster by filling a chair without leaving a space between unrelated parties. We appreciate your sentiment, but this isn’t a typical season where that would be appropriate. Maze masters are directing as many people up the mountain as is safe. Trust the system.
“When guests and staff understand the new loading guidelines and comply with them, we are able to load the chair or gondola more efficiently, decreasing the length of wait time,” Tiltman said. “The mazes may seem longer, but it’s in order to maintain social distancing to keep people safe.”
Like we mentioned, lift-line protocol exists beyond this current pandemic.
“Safety is our No. 1 priority, and it doesn’t change from regular seasons to a COVID season,” Tiltman said.
In other words, follow these rules, pandemic or no pandemic:
Each maze is roped off to create merging chutes. It’s pretty easy: When you reach the merge point, let the group next to you go in front of you.
Don’t: Smoke or vape anything.
Marijuana is still illegal federally, and Vail Resorts is located on the White River National Forest. Notice, the name is “national forest.” That means it’s subject to federal law, where marijuana is still illegal, not state law. Nicotine is a no-no, too, according to Eagle County ordinance.
Overall, Tiltman said the COVID-19 safety measures Vail Resorts has taken has been a success. So let’s keep it up, and have a great, full season.