RED LODGE -Red Lodge Mountain will suspend operations for seven days starting at the end of the ski day Sunday and will decide later whether to reopen again, Red Lodge management said Sunday.
“We made the difficult decision today, after working with state and local health officials to suspend operations at the end of today (Sunday) through March 22 to be able to evaluate the situation in the state of Montana and what we should be doing going forward," mountain assistant general manager Spencer Weimar told Q2 over the phone.
The season was scheduled to run to April 12.
Weimar said some skiers are sad for the suspension because "snow keeps piling up." But management wants to do what it can to keep people healthy.
“Right now the key thing is to reduce collections of large groups of people. While we think we provide a pretty outdoor very safe environment, it's about more than us and our skiing. It’s about the well being of all of our community and at the center of that, we want to do our part," Weimar said.
Mountain employees will still be paid during the seven day suspension, Weimar said.
“We’re really thankful for our employees and their commitment to Red Lodge Mountain and everything they’ve done through this … they’ve worked really hard to make sure we’re providing a clean and healthy environment. We’re going to pay all of our employees during the seven day suspension because we really do value them," Weimar said.
Red Lodge management hasn't made a determination on what it will do about pre-purchased lift tickets. But Weimar said they would like to do right by their customers to get them skiing next year.
“I can assure you that should we not reopen, we will definitely make it right by all our people that have pre-purchased items ... We would prefer to roll (tickets) over to next year because we would love everyone to come back and ski next year. We haven’t quite got there on what that specific decision is because we don’t know exactly what we’re going to do," Weimar said.
During the seven day suspension, uphill travel on foot will still be allowed for skiers and snowboarders that want to "earn their turns."
“We will allow uphill travel. The routes won’t be restricted. But we won’t allow dogs for the foreseeable future during the 7 day suspension," Weimar said.
If the mountain does reopen, Weimar said staff have been hard at work sanitizing the resort.
“We’ve upped our cleaning and sanitation up here. Should we reopen after the suspension you can rest assured that you are coming to a clean and healthy place to get outdoors," Weimar said.
Here's the full statement the resort posted on Facebook:
RED LODGE MOUNTAIN SUSPENDING OPERATIONS March 15, 2020
Out of concern for the health and safety of our guests, staff, and local community in the face of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak, and with guidance from Health Officials, Red Lodge Mountain has made the difficult decision to suspend operations at the end of the day on Sunday, March 15, 2020.
All lift operations, food and beverage, mountain retail, repair, and rental shops will be closed through March 22, 2020. We will continue to closely monitor recommendations from State and Local Health Departments, the Center for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization as we determine a plan for the remainder of the season.
We sincerely apologize to our customers who were planning to ski Red Lodge Mountain over the next week. We have relaxed our cancellation and refund policy and future lift ticket arrivals from March 16, 2020 – March 22, 2020 will automatically be refunded. Guests are encouraged to visit our website for more information and updates. We anticipate a high call volume over the next few days and appreciate your patience as we work hard to respond to all inquiries.
Scheduled employees, both seasonal and year-round will be paid for the 7 days suspension of operations. They have been committed to Red Lodge Mountain through this challenging time and we are very thankful for their efforts.
Our normal uphill travel policy will remain in place during this suspension of operations. Hikers may travel uphill at any time throughout the day, but must adhere to all normal restrictions, including no dogs. Please refer to our website for the comprehensive policy on uphill travel.
We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and short notice of this suspension, and appreciate your understanding as we work through the challenges of this unprecedented situation. We will evaluate reopening at a later date, and look forward to welcoming our skiers and riders back as soon as conditions permit.