Mid-December can’t come soon enough for Sasquatch Mountain Resort.
Staff at Sasquatch Mountain are hard at work as the 2021-22 ski season opens on Dec. 10.
Sasquatch Mountain has joined other area ski resorts in not requiring guests to be vaccinated to ski or board. However, proof of double vaccination is required for sit-down restaurant service.
“There are a number of mountains that mandate vaccinations, but we will not be going in that direction this year,” said Shelby Lim, the resort’s director of inside operations. Lim added full vaccination may be required for employees.
One COVID-19 safety factor that Sasquatch Mountain has that other resorts may not is that the lifts are open rather than enclosed cabins. Lim said a focus on grab-and-go food ensures that even if sit-down food service isn’t a possibility for some people, there are still food and drink options open to everyone.
Resort staff and guests are expected to follow other COVID-19 prevention guidelines such as wearing masks where appropriate and practicing social distancing.
Lim said there’s excitement for development and expansion coming down the pike, including opening up 18 kilometres of reclaimined and new trails for the new season.
A surge of interest in outdoor activities brought on by the pandemic has been a boon to business at Sasquatch Mountain. With the season passes long since sold-out and ticket sales on the way, there’s optimism about another busy year at the resort.
“The (ski resort) industry as a whole saw a huge increase in numbers,” Lim said. She added not only was there local traffic to the resort, but plenty of visitors from other parts of the Lower Mainland were coming to Sasquatch Mountain.
The road up to Sasquatch Mountain Resort is being restored, paved halfway to the top and gravel the rest of the way. well into the 2019-2020 season, hundreds of guests and resort employees were stranded on Sasquatch Mountain as a landslide closed the only road in and out. Over the course of several days, everyone was evacuated from the resort by air and by ground.
”(Hemlock Valley Road) was full of cracks and in rough shape sin the the road washout,” Lim said. “It’s being completely resurfaced.”
While the guest numbers are expected to be high, border closures and labour shortages have put pressure on the Sasquatch Mountain workforce.
“It’s definitely been a challenge,” Lim said. “We have 200 staff members, and about 50 per cent of them come from overseas, and of that 50 per cent, 75 per cent of those come from Australia.”
While some restrictions have lifted, Australia remains under heavy COVID-19 related lockdowns to keep the pandemic at bay, which impacts multiple ski resort communities across the province. Lim said Sasquatch Mountain is working with a number of agencies to fill the gaps.
Local hiring has its own challenges, Lim added. The idea of working and living in the remote Hemlock Valley area for four months is less of a job pitch and more of an appeal to those looking for a niche lifestyle. However, as the resort looks into ways to operate year-round, the retention challenge could lessen considerably.
For now, skiers and boarders are “chomping at the bit” to get the season started, Lim said.
Tickets will be released on Monday, Nov. 15. To purchase tickets, keep up on the latest mountain conditions and more, visit sasquatchmountain.ca.