This is the first issue of of 2022. I wish all readers good health, happiness, and peace for the New Year. But Covid’s omicron variant is challenging that wish for good health. It’s spreading fast, even among those who have been triple vaxxed. For most of the infected, it appears to be less taxing than Delta or earlier iterations. One side effect reported by several people I know, is hearing loss.

Ultimately, omicron’s virulence may cause such widespread infection that we’ll achieve herd or crowd immunity. That remains to be seen.

We’re older skiers and, by definition, more vulnerable to serious illness from the virus. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll divide our cohort into two categories: those who stay at lodges when they go skiing and those who ski and return home. Each is subjected to infection on lifts and in day lodges. Those overnighting in lodges have the additional risk of exposure from employees and other guests.

I don’t know if Utah is typical, but in terms of looking at the intersection of skiing and Covid, it is relevant.

Alta has no mask or vaccination-proof requirements. That, according to several friends who have skied there multiple times this season. The area recently closed its Watson Shelter because some staff tested positive. Alf’s remains open but with no mask or vaccination-proof requirements. The midmountain day lodge does keep windows open, according to a source working there.

Alta’s Smiling Rock                                               Photo: Harriet Wallis

By comparison, day lodges at Park City Mountain Resort (indeed, all Vail Resorts ski properties) require proof of vaccination and masks to access food-service and tables.

On the day I’m writing this, a front-page article in The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Covid swept through several of Alta’s overnight lodges, causing some guests to leave early, rather than risk getting ill. Of the five lodges, the only one requiring proof of vaccination is The Rustler. Snowpine, totally rebuilt a few years ago, follows Utah’s libertarian spirit and requires neither vaccination nor masks. The lodge’s website is devoid of any reference to Covid.

The Tribune quoted a 74-year-old guest who beat it back to her California home: “I’m not going back to Utah. It’s a COVID [nightmare]. Nowhere has better powder than Alta. Too bad it’s in Utah.”

The Christmas feast at our friends’ home was a lot of fun. Three guest couples, all contemporaries; all skiers; all known to the host and hostess but not to each other. Following festive fare, our ever-creative hostess, asked each of us to talk about the first time we skied and about a time we got into trouble while skiing.

The answers to Question #1 revealed surprising similarities among the men: none had been particularly “athletic” in youth. But then they were introduced to skiing. Each of the wives became interested through their husbands.

Getting into trouble on skis produced stories of literal, cliff-hangers; skis lost in deep powder, etc. Listening to these tales of woe, reminded me of the time I inadvertently became the end-of-the-day Pied Piper to a bunch of kids whose anxious parents awaited their return.

It was in the mid 70s and Pam and I were skiing Plattekill, an 1100’ ski hill with a variety of interesting terrain in the Northwestern Catskills, a few hours north of New York City.

Pam returned to the day lodge as I took one last run. At the top, I entered a trail I hadn’t noticed before. It was more of a road than an actual trail, one of those endless runs looping back and forth through the forest. A few minutes in I heard laughter behind me. I looked back and counted 12 little ones following.

Back to Pam waiting in the lodge; wondering, Where’s Jon? Around her, clutches of agitated parents wondering, Where are our children? Several minutes later, I walk in, followed by the kids. Emotional parents embraced their missing ones.

The angry area owner yelled at me from across the large room, accusing me of taking the kids on a closed trail. I called back: “The trail wasn’t roped off, and I didn’t know the kids were following.” His response: “Do you know how much it costs for rope?” 

I was banned from returning to Plattekill; a punishment promptly ignored. Those kids must now be in their 50s!

Have you gotten into trouble while skiing? Send in your stories. We’ll publish the most interesting.

Stevens Pass Petition: 20k Signatures

In a mere five days, more than 20,000 Epic Pass holders at Stevens Pass ski area in Washington, signed a petition demanding that Vail Resorts refund 60% of the cost of their passes. Why 60%? They claim that VR sold passes while knowingly planning to keep 60% of Stevens Pass terrain and a majority of lifts closed for the season. The petition gives VR a deadline to act by January 15 before filing a complaint with the Consumer Protection Division and the Attorney General of Washington State. Click here  to read the petition.

Incivility at Beaver Creek

According to a posting by the victim’s wife, her husband was struck by someone skiing in a group. When he confronted the person, another man in the group removed his skis and gave her husband a severe beating, leaving him with a broken rib and other injuries. The group, thought to be in their 30s, skied off and were not found. The incident was reported to patrol and the Sherriff’s office. It occurred December 31 at Beaver Creek.

Park City Patrollers Seek Raise

The Park City Professional Ski Patrol Association (PCPSPA) rejected Vail Resorts’s offer of a starting wage of $15 per hour. The patrollers want $17. Current wage is $13.25. More than 200 patrollers are working without a contract. Other Park City Mountain Resort employees receive $15 per hour minimum. Patrolling requires extensive training and patrollers generally are responsible for supplying their own equipment. If VR blinks, minimum wages for patrol throughout its many holdings will climb.

Timberline and Ski Bowl Discontinue Free Skiing for Seniors

Subscriber, Thomas Levak, informs us that Timberline and Ski Bowl (OR) have discontinued free skiing for super seniors (73+). Lift tickets for 65+ skiers are $65 (days) and $45 (nights), and skiers are required to make advance reservations for the days and times they want to ski (perhaps not a bad idea given that limited numbers of skiers are allowed for different time slots). Thanks for the info, Thomas!

New Advertisers: Booster and Slide On

The Booster Dynamic Power Strap is an elastic power strap that replaces the power straps found on most boots and helps you ski better, regardless of skill level. It is used by 80% of all Olympic skiers. Slide On is a dry lubricant spray that helps your feet slip in and out of your ski boots. One application lasts for a month of frequent boot use. One 2 oz. can is good for the entire season. Click on the Booster/Slide On ad for more information.

Snowbird’s Golden Anniversary

Believe it or not, The Bird opened 50 years ago. Those of you who have been there, know its magic. If it’s still on your “to do” list, take steps to get it done. Its 2500 skiable acres are accessed by tram and 10 chairs. It connects to Alta, for a combined 5000+ acres terrain. I have many memorable days skiing thigh-deep (sometimes waist-deep) Snowbird powder with friends. The resort produced a 3-minute video telling its history. Click on the image, above.

Patagonia Walks the Talk

Patagonia makes superb, durable outerwear and redirects a portion of its profits to support environmental and other worthy causes. Another example of the company’s progressive policies is its closing all its stores from Christmas through New Year’s while paying employees.

Austria Tightens Covid Rules for Brits

Austria has classified the UK as a “virus variant” region. Effective December 25, visitors from the UK are required to quarantine 10 days upon arrival, even if fully vaccinated. Given that Austria is a major destination for UK skiers, this is a big deal. Exceptions: Those fully vaccinated and boosted who have a negative PCR test. Children under 12 are exempt. Teens meeting certain conditions also may enter the country.

Record Snow Records

More than 200″ (almost 17′) fell in the Sierra’s in December. Utah is getting hammered with one pulse after another. Revelstoke (BC) has received 21’+ so far this season. All that snow prompted me to look into snow accumulation records. An amazing 1,140″ (95′) was recorded at Mount Baker Ski Area  (WA) (4,200 feet elevation) during the July 1, 1998 to June 30, 1999 snow season. Mt. Ibuki (Japan’s Honshu Island) measured 465.4″ (38.8′) February 14, 1927. The most snowfall in 24 hours (6.3′) was measured in Silver Lake, CO, April 14-15, 1921. Mount Shasta Ski Bowl (CA) recorded the most snow from a single storm: 189″ (15.75′), February 13-19, 1959.

Brrrrrrr: New Ice Hotel on Italian Glacier

A bedroom is the ice hotel next to Capanna Presena Refugio

A new ice hotel is now booking reservations. The luxury facility is on Italy’s Presena Glacier at Passo Tonale in Trentino and features intricate ice carving on both interior and exterior surfaces. The three-igloo-room facility is next to the Capanna Presena Refugio.

Vintage Cars in Snow

Here, from, are 53 photos of cars in snow…most of them stuck in the snow. They’re from both sides of the pond and fun to see. Click here to view.

Another entry: 91 vintage images of people playing in the snow. Notice that virtually every person pictured is smiling. Of course, they are! They’re in the snow. Click here to view.

Do you have information you want to share with other members of the growing community? Send it to [email protected]. Use the same address if interested in contributing articles. Please forward to other older skiers who may enjoy receiving it. Or simply tell them about the site. 


  1. Very annoying to hear that Alta is pretending there is no pandemic, and I am planning a ski trip to Utah for March to use my Ikon pass. Pause for thought. Back here in the east I am finding fairly standard mask and distancing mandates, at Loon for example. The problem is that there is almost no enforcement. The result is no social distancing anywhere and just enough mask free types to make the effort pointless. With omicron you can expect that in a crowded lodge you will get Covid, even if fully vaxxed and masked.

  2. Your prediction is entirely accurate. I was at Loon last week with my grandchildren for two days. The lodges were packed and very few people observed any type of distancing or mask wearing. Sure enough, upon arriving home I felt fluish and tested positive shortly thereafter. Luckily it was a mild case (I was vaccinated and boosted), but I think we are deceiving ourselves if we think that the ski areas serve as safe haves.

  3. Susie Greer says:

    Fun Pied Piper story!

  4. dunno about Alta, havent been up there yet, but Snowbird just went code red in the last week or so:

    Snowbird has reinstated its face-covering policy. This policy requires all guests and employees, vaccinated or not, to wear a 2-layer face covering while indoors or riding the Tram.

    and over at ParkCity, Summit county has restarted the mask mandates:

    (from the park record)
    Summit County officials on Thursday announced a countywide mask mandate in response to a surge in coronavirus cases that has dwarfed the largest spikes seen earlier in the pandemic.

    The mandate is slated to go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday. The order requires people to wear masks inside public facilities, such as schools, grocery stores and retailers, or while waiting in line to enter an indoor space

    from PCMR:

    Face coverings will be required in indoor settings, including in our gondolas, restaurants, lodging properties, restrooms,
    retail and rental locations, and on buses. Face coverings will not be required outdoors or on chairlifts, but are required in gondolas.

    and next door at DV:

    While on Deer Valley property, masks or facial coverings are required to be worn while indoors by all guests and staff, regardless of vaccination status, except when eating or drinking while seated at a table, as per the Summit County Public Health Order.


    personally, my main concern is that they keep the damn ski areas OPEN and NOT over-react like they did 2 seasons ago!

    aloha from ‘the shores of lake bonneville’

  5. Frances Ando says:

    Is there any list of ski areas’ observance and enforcement of Covid 19 precautions? Or lack of?

  6. Been hearing a lot lately about the travails (no pun intended) of Vail Resorts, not just out West but here in NH as well. The ski business is a complex one with numerous factors that are beyond management control, as well as those that rest entirely in the lap of management. I hope you’ll continue to cover the issue, as I’m fairly certain it won’t go away, even if 2′ of snow would help it here in the East! Thanks, Alan.

  7. esp at wildcat (with no RE to build condos on) and attitash!
    read all about it at the

    Tough early sledding for Vail at Attitash, Wildcat
    Vail managers: ‘We share in the frustration’

  8. Howard Vipler says:

    Just arrived from Denver at our Hunter Mt., NY (Another Vail Resort now) ski house yesterday and skied today. All man made, but they do a nice job of grooming, and as the morning progressed, and the corduroy got scraped off, that left lots of loose granular to carve along the edges. Anyways, after skiing for 68 years, thirty five of which were on the Hunter Mt. Ski Patrol, I enjoy the socializing as much as the skiing. However, what was tough to take were all the questions about why we would leave the beautiful mountains and conditions to come to NY. All I could say was, real good old friends are worth keeping in touch with.
    Ski safe this year Jon,

    • Jon Weisberg says:

      Great to hear from you, Howie. Please give my best to David and the ski friends I met at the funeral. Had though I’d be in Denver for the SnowShow but Omicron risk doesn’t make it worth the effort. Let me know if you make it to Utah. Jon

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