Amid Closures, Select Ski Resorts Continue to Allow Uphill Skiing

Over the last week, ski resorts closed en masse due to concerns and restrictions related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). A few, however, will still let you skin uphill. But remember: It’s a go-at-your-own-risk affair, with no rescue services available and no avalanche mitigation at closed resorts.

When ski resorts across the country announced mass closures earlier this week due to the rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak, a common question appeared on social media statements from resorts: Will uphill skiing be allowed?

The answer has been varied. If a resort allowed uphill skiing inbounds—a growing trend in recent years—prior to the closure, there was a decent chance it would honor that policy even after the lifts shut down prematurely over the health crisis. If a resort didn’t permit uphill travel before, however, it’s most certainly not going to start allowing it now.

Uphill traffic permitted, for now. [Photo] Courtesy Whitefish Mountain Resort

Even if your local resort does allow uphill travel now, keep in mind that you’re skinning at a now-closed ski resort. There is no ski patrol on staff, no services offered and minimal, if any, avalanche mitigation. If you get hurt, you’re on your own—just like you would be in the backcountry.

“Uphilling is allowed and it defers to our pre- and post-season skinning policy,” says Tucker Vest Burton, senior public relations manager for Aspen Skiing Company, which shut down its Colorado resorts due to coronavirus concerns on March 14. “Meaning uphillers are allowed on the ski area at anytime, but it’s entirely at their own risk.”

With resorts closed and many people out of work, backcountry skiing and uphill skiing inbounds may see an uptick in participants. As long as skiers and riders practice the suggested six feet of social distancing and avoid large groups, the activity could be a welcomed relief during these stressful times.

Take Whitefish Mountain Resort, in Montana, for example. The mountain’s post-season policy allows uphill skiing on designated trails for the 14 days after the resort’s closing day, which came earlier than expected this year. After March 29, no restrictions will be in place for uphill travel.

“There have been a lot of people hiking. There may be a few newbies in the group for sure,” says Riley Polumbus, public relations manager for Whitefish Mountain Resort. “I’d wager open or closed we’d see this many people hiking because of the good weather. This is many people’s primary choice for fitness. Plus, some may have extra time on their hands.”

Uphill access has been suspended at all of Vail’s resorts that previously allowed it, including Utah’s Park City, California’s Northstar, Heavenly and Kirkwood and, as of Monday, March 30, Vermont’s Stowe Mountain Resort. Stevens Pass, in Washington, has closed uphilling while the resort is being shut down, but a statement said the resort could reopen uphilling once that process is completed.

When California’s Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows announced its closure on March 14, the Tahoe area was in the midst of its biggest storm cycle of the season. Understandably, people weren’t thrilled at the news that the lifts would be shutting down, despite public health warnings to do so. Squaw Alpine didn’t allow uphill skiing before and the activity will remain prohibited.

“We understand that people are eager to get out on the slopes, but no uphill travel is allowed at Squaw or Alpine,” the resort posted on Instagram on March 15. “Avalanche danger in the Sierra is currently rated high, and avalanche control and other safety measures involving grooming machine travel will still be ongoing at the resort during the closure. Even when avalanche danger subsides, our ski areas are closed to guests until such time as we reopen, be it this season or next.”

Backcountry has compiled a list of ski resorts and uphill skinning policies, but during this time of unprecedented mid-season resort closures due to COVID-19, each resort’s uphill policy may differ from its traditional guidelines. Contact your local resort and plan to adhere to their current policy before heading out.

Related posts:


  1. Roger Strong says:

    This is awesome Megan and thanks for taking the time to put this together. Another thought to add is with respect to keeping as much social distance as possible, we’ve been making sure we buy food/supplies/gas within a few blocks of home and don’t make any stops until clicking in. We’ve also stopped posting any images of any recreation that may come across as getting rad or being at risk. We also have been asked to not loiter in the parking lots…Case in point, Mt. Hood Meadows was all about keeping their uphill policy open, but last Sunday there was literally hundreds of people in the parking lot tailgating for hours on end, leading to it getting shut down.

Speak Your Mind