We find ourselves in unchartered territory as Coronavirus tightens its global grip. For those that have made their way to a ski destination or indeed live in one, we can only look on as many of the resorts close and cease to spin their lifts. In an effort to glean something positive from this, there are fortunately still some sporting actives that we can enjoy – whilst maintaining safe social distancing and without placing ourselves at risk. Here are 3 outdoor activities that we can still enjoy in a closed ski resort.
1. Backcountry skiing
For those that have experience in avalanche terrain and/or the ability to hire a guide, backcountry skiing or snowboarding is an excellent alternative to resort riding. Not only is it a great work out and way to experience the great outdoors, but it comes without any lift lines, shared gondolas or chairlifts – and other people all together. There is no need for any physical contact with your fellow adventurers, and you can enjoy a whole of day of backcountry touring without once being indoors or in a confined space! Coronavirus aside, it is a magnificent experience, often offering great snow conditions and the complete peace of quiet of the mountains. As with all backcountry touring – do be sure that you have the necessary skills and experience to be in avalanche terrain, or hire a guide if in doubt.
An incredibly underrated past time, snowshoeing is another way to immerse yourself in the mountains and does not require you to come in to close contact with anyone else. The design of the snowshoes allow you to access areas that regular footwear does not, and therefore maximise on the scenery, peace, or physical activity element. As an added incentive, snowshoeing does not require any specialised skills, training or even prior experience – so is a good option for families or groups or individuals of most ages and fitness levels. As with backcountry skiing, there is nothing stopping you from enjoying a picnic and sitting for a while in the fresh mountain air! Do be wary of your route and avoid bigger, more avalanche prone terrain. For many years snowshoeing has been overshadowed by skiing and snowboarding – so maybe now is the time for a comeback?
3. Snow biking
Snow Biking is exactly as it sounds and can be scaled from entry to advanced skill levels. For those that have not tried it before, start by biking on flat, even terrain and ride it as you would a normal bike. Once you have gotten to feel for it, and become well acquainted with the fatter tires and deeper tread, feel free to add some ups and downs into your Journey. It is a great way to explore a local area, whilst avoiding public transport and larger thoroughfares. For those with experience, you could tackle some of the closed ski slopes (if permitted) with a rigorous work out on the up and an adrenalin filled decent. Another the checks the boxes for safe social distancing, fresh air and a good work out, the skills required for snow biking are not too dissimilar to that of regular biking – making it accessible for most people.
Though the current situation in closed ski resorts is far from ideal, it could be could be an opportunity to pick up a new sport and truly reconnect with our surroundings. After all – when was the last time that we were able to enjoy a ski resort without the hum of chairlifts turning and the swishing of skiers rushing by?
Nadine Robb is Owner and Instructor at Hakuba Ski Concierge. Hakuba Ski Concierge is a boutique ski school in Hakuba, Japan.