The past few days have seen a dramatic spike in Covid-19 cases in the Bow Valley, and businesses are having to close either as a precaution or due to a lack of staff. Whilst I have compiled a series of updates on what winter has brought to Banff this year, the biggest takeaway is that
now is not the time to visit.
This is a harsh blow for an economy so reliant on visitors, however as of Friday 13th November Banff is on an "enhanced status" list with additional precautions in place as the numbers continue to climb.
I'm sure, to many people, the arrival of winter in mid-October was just another blow being dealt by 2020: The Year That Keeps On Giving.
But skiing in the time of a pandemic looks a little different than in previous years. There have been some great write ups like this one on what to expect when you arrive at the hill, and how to prepare. I've no doubt that as the winter progresses there will be variances and changes as the situation develops, but for now the summary is:
- Be prepared to be fully self sustained and spend long times in line ups for gondolas, lifts, washrooms... basically any time you're not actually riding you'll probably be queueing.
- Figure out your face mask. Face coverings are mandatory throughout the ski resort, and there is evidence out there to suggest that Buffs or basic neck tubes are actually ineffective against the spread unless doubled over.
- Bring all of your own food and drink, and make sure it won't freeze whilst you're out shredding! Packs are not permitted inside, so they'll have to be able to withstand the cold (or you'll have a very crunchy sandwich...)
- Be grateful for any days you do manage to get. With ski hills remaining closed in other parts of the world, it's time to count blessings and focus on what you do have rather than that which you lack.
- Personally, I will be staying away from ski resorts for the foreseeable future and spending my winter learning new skills.
Following the recent boom in backcountry use, it's not surprising that this year brings with it further increases in the purchase of backcountry equipment and enrolments in avalanche safety training courses.
Avalanche Canada has it's work cut out this year; trying to educate increasingly more people in socially distanced ways with less funding.. if you're considering getting away from resorts and out into the backcountry then here is a good place to start. Better yet, consider hiring a guide from any of these great local companies to take you out.
Wherever you are, in bounds or our in the backcountry, remember to pack additional masks and sanitizer. In the event of you, or a member of your party, needing a rescue, it's important to protect the EMS workers who will be called out to rescue you.
Do you have any other tips or thoughts on how to enjoy your winter? We'd love to hear your respectful comments below!
Stay safe, be smart, stay healthy and happy and we hope to be out adventuring with you again very soon.