Dartmouth Skiway to reopen for winter term

by Lorraine Liu | 11/9/20 2:05am

by Paula Kutschera / The Dartmouth Staff

As one of only two college skiways in the entire country, the Dartmouth Skiway faced unique demand as it determined its reopening plan for this upcoming season. After closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March, the Skiway plans to reopen for its winter operations on Dec. 19 with limited capacity. 

According to Dartmouth Skiway manager Mark Adamczyk, the Skiway has been approved to operate in the winter and will follow New Hampshire guidelines for ski areas, which mandate social distancing and mask-wearing in crowded areas. Skiers who have purchased season passes can access the Skiway anytime without making reservations, although Adamczyk noted that the policy may change.

The number of daily lift tickets for sale will be limited to control capacity at the Skiway, and skiers will need to purchase them online in advance. Adamczyk said that while the Skiway has plenty of lifts for skiers, it plans to use the parking lot to gauge its capacity throughout the day since the lot has much lower capacity than the slopes or the lifts. The percentage of trails open, day of the week and time in the season will determine the quantity of daily tickets for sale. 

In terms of the operations at the McLane Family Lodge, Adamczyk said the general public will likely be able to access only the bathrooms and rental reservations area. 

The Skiway will not allow skiers to gear up or put on clothing in the lodge itself, Adamczyk said, hoping instead that skiers will use their cars for that purpose.

“The base lodge is your car,” Adamczyk said. He added that specific plans regarding skiers’ interaction in indoor spaces are undergoing review by Dartmouth’s COVID-19 task force. 

On lifts, the Skiway will allow one skier per chair, except in instances where friends or family are traveling together. Skiers will be required to wear face coverings in the loading and unloading area of the lift, on the lift, indoors and any time when individuals cannot maintain social distancing. 

Adamczyk said Skiway workers will undergo testing like other Dartmouth employees. He noted that although New Hampshire does not require contact tracing in ski areas, the Skiway will use  contact information for both season pass holders and daily ticket purchasers who buy passes online to help contact trace.

“What we want to focus on is making sure that we have a plan that really protects people while they're skiing,” Adamczyk said. “We feel like that's the activity that is going to be a refuge for the community and give people the opportunity to get outside, get some fresh air and generate some endorphins in a time that’s more challenging to do that than it has been in the past.”

Adamczyk noted that the Skiway sees “an interesting confluence of athletics, the general public [and] student participation,” as both Dartmouth students and the Upper Valley community can access the Skiway. However, with challenges regarding transportation, the ability of on-campus Dartmouth students to use the Skiway this winter remains uncertain.  

According to PE ski director John Brady and senior associate athletic director for physical education and recreation Joann Brislin, a proposed snowsports program is undergoing review by the COVID-19 task force. However, Brady wrote in an email statement that “final details for ski leasing, scheduling and bus transportation have not been approved.” 

In the past, Dartmouth students were able to take PE snowsports courses that count towards their PE credits in the winter. Zahni Khin ’23, who took PE snowboarding his freshman winter and had little experience with snowsports prior to coming to Dartmouth, said he was able to become friends with his instructor, meet new people and witness his improvement through taking weekly snowboarding lessons. 

“[It] definitely was one of the best parts about my winter term at Dartmouth,” Khin said.

David Kaufmann ’23, who plans to access the Skiway in the winter, said that a lot of beginners will miss out on utilizing the Skiway this winter without access to PE skiing. 

Khin, who plans to enroll as an on-campus student this winter, said he is relying on accessing the Skiway to socialize outdoors and maintain his mental health, but added that he thinks transportation from campus to the Skiway will be a challenge. In past winters, students have been able to take buses to the Skiway, and Khin noted that they were “packed with two to three people every seat, and sometimes it [was] a bit of a struggle getting onto the bus.”

Kaufmann said he imagines that getting students to the Skiway will be “quite an undertaking,” but stressed that the importance of the College designing a plan that allows students to access the Skiway when options for outdoor activities are limited.

“Of course, there are certain precautions you have to take to stay safe,” Kaufmann said. “But I think that given the testing regimen, there are certainly ways in which Dartmouth students will be able to participate in certain outdoor recreation, such as skiing.”