Boler climbs 'mountain' to prepare for ski season
LONDON, ONT. -- London’s Boler Mountain looked picturesque Wednesday with a light covering of snow, a sign of hope for skiers, snowboarders and tubers.
But, with a warming trend in the forecast, it’s going to be a couple of weeks before the not-for-profit attraction opens for the year, according to Outdoor Operations Manager Shaun Bonnallie
“This year is more of a normal year weather-wise for us. We always aim to open in December. Last year, was Nov. 23, but we’re looking to duplicate an early opening as soon as Mother Nature will allow us.”
But, as we all know, Mother Nature has thrown a curve ball into preparations.
COVID-19 precautions will have an impact on the ski season, according to the manager of Boler Mountain, Marty Thody.
“Loading on the chair would be a little bit different. So, if you’re under the same roof, you could ride the chair together. Other than that, it’s two people per chair, and mask up. You have to have a mask on in the lineup, on the chair and while inside.”
Boler Mountain Manager Marty Thody speaks in London, Ont. on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. (Sean Irvine / CTV News)
While those changes are definitive, Thody admits many anticipated precautions are “evolving.”
For example, Thody says the plan is to start the season without requiring visitors to register an arrival time online.
“We’re a little reluctant to pin down people to an exact hour to arrive, at this point, but we are prepared to do it.”
He says moving London moving above the current COVID yellow 'protect' zone would likely signal the change.
Another possible switch, if necessary, is putting the ski rental shop outdoors.
Initially, food will be available, but it will be “streamlined,” Thody tells CTV News.
Staffing levels at Boler Moutain will remain similar to the 2019-2020 season, as Bonnallie expects crowds.
“It’s the pent up demand for recreation. As families you can’t do a lot of things together right now, but skiing and tubing is one of those few things you can actually get together.”
If the crowds arrive, Thody says numbers will be monitored.
Before the pandemic, a busy Saturday would see around 1,400 people on the mountain.
But Thody says that number will need to come down by about 20 per cent.
To avoid possible disappointment, he suggests all those who can, come on weekdays.
“We feel we’re unlikely to see school trips this year, so lots of available capacity in the daytime.”
Boler Mountain can make snow once the temperature drops below -2C, but ideal conditions are -6C to -8C.