When you’re standing at the top of your favourite ski run this season, looking out over the Australian Alps, ready to carve fresh tracks through the snow gums, you won’t take any of it for granted. The prospect of a ski season seemed bleak during the lockdown days of Autumn, but yet here we are, set to hit the slopes a mere two weeks behind schedule. With the industry worth $2.4 billion to the local economy not going ahead would have been unthinkable for hundreds of businesses brought to their knees by Summer bushfires and Covid-19 restrictions.

Lifts will start turning at Perisher, Falls Creek and Mount Hotham on June 24, while it’s June 22 for Thredbo and Mount Buller, and June 26 for Charlotte Pass. But this will not be a normal ski season, as resorts adapt to ever-evolving Covid-19 restrictions. The dynamic situation means procedures are subject to change at any time, so best to visit resort websites for the latest information.

Capacity on the mountains will be reduced to around half, and you’ll need to pre-purchase all lift tickets and resort entry passes. Loyalty will be rewarded with lift ticket allocation. Season pass holders will enjoy unrestricted access as per normal. Multi-day lift tickets will get the next allocation, followed by single day lift tickets. The 2020 Epic Australia Pass (for Perisher, Falls Creek and Mt Hotham) remains on sale at $889 (adults) until June 28, and pass holders are also eligible for a refund. The Ikon Pass (Thredbo and Mt Buller) is still valid, and there’s a promotion currently running that offers a $USD200 saving on the 20/21 Ikon Pass (promotion ends June 16).

There’s no airbrushing the challenges. Finding staff has been difficult for all resorts, with the seasonal, foreign workers the industry relies on locked out by border closures. Hotels and self-contained accommodation will operate as normal but there will be restrictions on lodges using shared facilities. Expect higher prices, less terrain open, fewer facilities, no big events, no group lessons, no clothing rental and limited tobogganing and snow play. There’ll be fewer people on the slopes but also on the chairlifts due to physical distancing restrictions, so queues could be the same. As for bars, restaurants and cafés, the rules will be the same as for those in the city, so don’t expect any wild après ski parties.

While the bad news might be manifold, the good news is singular and salient. You can go skiing this season. Out of adversity often comes great reward. Reduced to the bare essentials: snow, friends and family, 2020 could prove to be the most memorable and rewarding season you’ll ever have.

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