Rob Sanderson has been looking forward to the opening of the Whistler Blackcomb bike park for weeks.
"It's good. I mean it's a beautiful day, we are outside and it's pretty clear what all the safety rules are and you just have to follow them," said the North Vancouver resident as he waited in line to load his bike on the Fitzsimmons Express chair at the bottom of Whistler Mountain on June 29.
"I hope they open up some of the more-difficult runs soon, but I'll take this if it's all that's on offer for now. I get that they don't want a bunch of injured people at the clinic here."
Sanderson, who is on furlough from his job, bought a 10-day pass for the park this year saying investing in a seaon pass was too expensive and not good value considering the terrain that is open. "But, I'll get 10 good days out of it I'm sure and it's just one season, right?" said Sanderson, with a hopeful laugh.
This was opening day for Whistler Blackcomb (WB) and things are going smoothly so far, said Marc Riddell, Vail Resorts’ West Coast director of communications.
"The team worked very hard to get to Opening Day and we are very pleased about what we have seen so far," he said. "Guests have been patient and respectful of the new protocols. I think everyone is just happy to be back on the mountain."
But with COVID-19 factoring in, Whistler’s summer experience is going to look much different than in past years.
“It’s a complete behavioural change, and I think the thing that people should take home is that we want to get open in a safe and responsible way—it’s not going to be the same experience that they’re used to, but we’re very eager to get back at it,” Riddell told Pique earlier.
The Whistler Village Gondola, Peak 2 Peak Gondola and Blackcomb Gondola will bring hikers and sightseeing guests up the mountains, while the Whistler Mountain Bike Park will open with the Fitz and Garbanzo zones. Grab-and-go food options will also be available at the Rendezvous, Garbanzo Bike and Bean, and the Roundhouse Lodge.
All on-mountain transactions will be cashless.
The Blackcomb Ascent Trails are also open.
Physical distancing rules will be in place and masks will have to be worn in several areas of the mountain including during line-ups and loading.
While most guests will likely be accustomed to being asked to physically distance, and maintain two metres from others, WB guests must wear face coverings, including people that are going to be using the bike park.Those without a mask will be asked to leave—WB was making masks available to those who arrived wihtout them.
Gondolas and other high-touch surfaces will be frequently cleaned and disinfected, while hand-sanitizing stations will be provided, and if you come with a party you’re going to be required to ride the gondola with that party.
While rentals will still be available (with proper cleaning and disinfecting protocols in place), bike school, lessons and camps will not be offered to start.
Capacity will be monitored consistently throughout the day, and managed as necessary.
All WB employees will be required to wear a face cover, wash their hands regularly, stay home if sick, undergo daily health screenings, and participate in special COVID-19 training.
-With files by Braden Dupuis.