Above photo: Some skiers got into the holiday spirit. How cute are they!
Reservations, 7-day priority, holding rooms, long wait times… Epic pass members are losing their minds over the mess that the pandemic has caused for this year’s snow season. Every time I talk to my crew about the season’s new reservation system, I frown and my heart sinks.
The pandemic has inevitably affected the snowboarding season for lots of disappointed riders, and shelling out $1,000 for a pass just felt icky.
As an Epic pass member, you get a 7-day priority reservation in the system. These are your 7 days you can reserve at any time in the season, pretty much. After that, you must book on the week of when you want to board. If it’s all full, you’re sh*t out of luck.
After dealing with this nonsense for the last month, I made an executive decision to go to a non-Epic mountain where the reservation system might be easier. I was also feeling the angst of not being able to go up freely, and seeing a few big storms come and go in the Bay Area without being able to go to the mountain nearly destroyed me. OK ok, I’m being overly dramatic… but to say that I was itching to go was an understatement.
HELLO, Mount Rose! Over the years at Northstar, I had met a lot of Reno locals who seem to relish the snowy slopes of this local, hidden gem. I thought, now is a good time to check it out, even if it’s outside of my Epic pass. A day pass was $125 for a full day on a weekend.
The drive there
Just like the drive to Northstar, it’s practically all highway miles getting there. The drive was easy, smooth, and the best part? No traffic! The resort was less than 10 miles past Northstar.
When we arrived, we parked and were on the mountain in five minutes. Parking was free. No gondolas, no lines, no madness. Totally my kind of place.
It had snowed about 10 inches this past week, but because we got there a few days after, it wasn’t fresh fresh. There were icy parts, but for the most part, the groomed runs were fantastic, smooth, and offered incredible views of the lake and Nevada. Sort of a nice change from Heavenly or Northstar.
There were about 30 trails open and a handful of lifts. There are plenty of blacks with moguls, but we mostly stuck to the blues. The runs weren’t too short, considering the mountain is on the smaller side.
Boarding in a pandemic
Because it’s in Nevada, the December stay-at-home order didn’t apply, so the lodge and bar area was open, but at limited capacity (25%) and most people chose to sit outside, 6 feet apart anyway. My whiskey on the rocks was $7! Gotta love Reno.
Everyone had masks on, and to be honest, I think boarding with a mask wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Sure, it can get a bit moist in there (ick), but it protects your face from the cold and sun.
The lines moved quickly, but then again, it wasn’t crowded. Mount Rose has automatic gates, so no one needs to tag you in with a gun scanner. The person in charge of manning the lines was efficient, and you can only ride with your group. If you’re in the single line, you can ride with one other single, and the 6-person chair offered enough distance in between. Any time a rider’s mask happened to slip off of their face or if their nose was exposed, the staff at Mount Rose would ask you politely to put it back on.
They were definitely ensuring guests were following protocol and staying safe.
A great start to the season
Maybe the first day of the season didn’t offer a fresh heaping pile of white powder (like last year in Northstar), but I still had a marvelous day on the slopes. It took me a run or two to get going, but once I did, I noticed I wasn’t as fearful to go a little faster and turn quicker. I was able to keep up (for the most part) with my friend, who is an expert and loves speed.
There were steep parts of the resort that were scary, only because it was a bit icy. I’m happy to report that I didn’t fall once.
Looking forward to the rest of the season, as the new year approaches. I’m considering getting a season pass ($795) at Mount Rose to avoid the mess of Epic. It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the season pans out and what different resorts will be like, especially with the vaccine on the horizon for the general public.