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Is It Safe To Go Skiing This Winter?

22 October 2021
Is It Safe To Go Skiing This Winter?

Following the early closure of ski resorts across Europe in March 2020, and the subsequent lockdowns since, many are hoping that the 2021/2022 ski season will be a chance to make up for lost time and they might just be right. While there are still partial restrictions on international travel and you may have to complete a little more paperwork than usual, the world is opening up once again.


Latest Updates

Last Updated October 22nd 2021

Summary: International travel is opening up again. There may be requirements for more paperwork as well as covid tests before, during and after your trip depending on where you choose to go so it’s important to be prepared and fully informed as to what is required from you.

  • Scottish resorts are opening this season, just waiting for the snow.
  • In the US there are a couple of ski resorts open already (Colorado) while many others plan to open from mid-November onwards.
  • Italy currently has one ski resort open (Val Senales) while others plan to follow suit in November but most opening up in December.
  • Some Austrian ski resorts are already open in the Tyrol region with most others due to follow suit in November.
  • Many ski resorts in Switzerland are planning to start opening mid-November with a few holding off until mid-December.
  • French ski resorts will be opening from 20th November onwards.

Can I go skiing this winter?

Yes.

The world has opened up again for the most part, however, resorts have been busy making appropriate preparations and putting measures in place to ensure a safe and successful season. Some resorts, are already open and by working with local tourist boards and Government directives, they are confident in the measures they have put in place to prevent the spread of the virus, meaning we can all enjoy the mountains once again.

There are some extra rules for us all to abide by such as wearing masks and keeping distance where possible, there may also be proof of vaccination or negative test result requirements depending on where you choose to go.

In the case that the situation changes and European resorts have to tighten down, do not worry, there are other options on how you can get the most of your skiing this winter, but more on that a little further down.


Which ski resorts are going to open?

At the time of publishing, resorts across Europe are expecting to open as normal this season.

Europe already has 27 resorts open while further afield, Colorado has two resorts open already.

The length of the season is of course dependent upon snow conditions, but also virus conditions, although resorts are confident that they have put all of the appropriate measures in place to ensure a safe season for everyone.


Will I have to quarantine?

The short answer is on your return to the UK, quite possibly. It is important to check the latest travel guidance from the UK Government as travel to certain countries will lead to you having to quarantine upon your return. 

It’s also worth checking the government’s entry requirements for the country you plan to visit as the season progresses so you can be abreast of any changes.

Tirol Backcountry Skiing


What restrictions and rules are in place?

Each resort and area has its own set of guidance with regards to the safety measures in place for this winter season, however, the majority fit a similar set of rules and principles.

Most resorts have the following, or similar, rules in place:

  • Ensure you are not displaying symptoms of being unwell before heading to the resort
  • Where possible, buy lift passes online and in advance of your trip to avoid large gatherings and queues
  • Wear a face mask on chair lifts, gondolas and whilst queuing for lifts
  • Face masks must also be worn in indoor public areas and during certain parts of group ski lessons
  • Keep your distance where reasonably possible

As a result of these rules, the normal ski experience will be a little different. The biggest change is perhaps the impact that these measures will have on après skiing. 


Is this the end of après?

Not necessarily. Traditional après lovers might have to wait a little longer before a full return to the normal mountain party atmosphere but bars and restaurants will be open and Ischgl have reinstated their legendary Top of the Mountain Opening Concert.

Skier in powder


How will coronavirus impact skiing?

Whilst you are actually skiing, there won't be any impact compared to your usual experience. You are free to put your turns in and enjoy the freedom and peace that comes with the mountains. However, whilst queuing and using lifts, you will have to wear a face mask. For those that already wear a neck warmer like a Buff, this will be easy to accommodate. However, for those that don’t, resorts are doing all that they can to make this an easy experience for all with some, such as Ischgl, handing out free ‘multi-functional scarfs’ with the purchase of a lift pass that provide warmth and also act as a face covering.


How to travel to the resorts?

Eurostar are running their non-stop ‘Ski Train’ this winter which offers an alternative to flying. Self-drive trips are still a good option for those willing to take a road trip. With a little planning and preparation, you can have your car ready for a trip to the alps in no time. Check out our quick guide, for some key tips. Ski operators are working to accommodate people driving themselves and Eurotunnel are requesting passengers remain within their car whilst on board, essentially creating a private bubble for the duration of the journey. 

However, there are still plenty of options for those wanting to fly, with Easyjet and British Airways both promoting flights this season to the major European ski airports. Ski tour operators are also still offering flight packages with their trips. Nearly all have implemented policies specific to Covid-19 to allow flexibility with cancellations and amendments, varying from refunds to rescheduling. When planning a trip, it is worth checking the policy with the operator just to ensure you are covered for any last-minute changes.


How will accommodation work?

Hotels and hostels will be open across resorts, however, in-line with resort guidelines they will require social distancing and face masks to be worn in certain areas/situations.

There is expected to be a reduction in the number of catered chalets, and an increase in self-catered accommodation allowing for easier distancing from others. Should you want a break from cooking, then do not fear, bars and restaurants will be open.

Les Deux Alpes Resort


What happens if the restrictions change?

As mentioned above, most ski tour operators are preparing for any potential changes by offering flexibility with regards to cancellations and refunds.

If booking a trip yourself directly, then most resort accommodation currently has similar policies, so be sure to check them over before booking.

Many areas, such as Morzine are also offering refunds or credits on unused lift passes depending on circumstances.


What about skiing outside of Europe?

The story for skiing is the same across most of the northern hemisphere this winter. The majority of resorts are planning to open, but with measures and rules put in place. 

The biggest point to make note of if you are travelling further afield than Europe would be to keep up to date with any potential travel restrictions. For example, whilst Japanese ski resorts are planning to open this season, the country is currently closed to tourists from the UK.


Alternative options

Should the situation develop and tighter restrictions be imposed, or if you would simply rather stay a little closer to home this winter, then this is the perfect season to explore the excellent skiing that the UK has to offer.

Scotland has some fantastic, and often overlooked, skiing on offer. Glenshee has over 40km of piste to explore, whilst the Nevis Range and Glencoe also offer a great range of slopes. Just a short ten-minute drive from Aviemore, Cairngorm Mountain offers some excellent skiing with Lecht also providing further options for adventure.

Scotland has plenty of backcountry on offer, most of which is easily accessible from the resorts. Check out our full guide to the best resorts in Scotland for a complete rundown of the options.

When the conditions are right, England also has a couple of options with Raise and Yad Moss in Cumbria. The areas do require the right amount of snowfall and are slightly less consistent than Scotland, but on their day, offer some fantastic skiing and boarding.


When Should I book?

By booking early, you can ensure that you have accommodation close to the slopes/lifts (minimising the need for a bus transfer) and you will also be helping support the ski industry. Alongside this you should also have the peace of mind that for most bookings, dependent upon policy, you will hopefully still have options should you need to amend or cancel.

That being said, there will undoubtedly be some last-minute deals and discounts over the course of the season, and by booking closer to your trip, you can minimise the risk of any change and disruption to travel.

 


So, following an unusual 18 months, it looks like we should be able to enjoy the slopes this winter. By following the measures and guidelines put in place, resorts are shortly going to be welcoming skiers and boarders back to pristine pistes and powder, a welcome retreat from the strangeness the Covid-19 virus created.

The situation around Coronavirus is constantly developing. Whilst this information was accurate at the time of posting, do stay up to date with the latest information available on the UK Government website, and the resort you are hoping to head to.


Huw Saunders

About the Author:

Huw Saunders - Outdoor Expert

Growing up in rural Wales, Huw has been immersed in the outdoors for as long as he can remember. If not surfing the Welsh coast, he can now usually be found either running or hiking in the Peak District and through the winter, tries to get out to Europe to ski as much as possible.


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