Ode to Australia’s ski resorts and alpine tourism operators

Photo: Alex Couto for Shutterstock

Imagine you’re climbing a mountain you’ve climbed 1000 times before, convinced you can do it blindfolded, so you do. Then, removing the blindfold, and finding yourself on the wrong ledge, not sure how to go back to where you started because you were blindfolded when you began.

So you plot a different route and can now see the summit, only to discover there’s a crevasse between you and the peak you see. 

You consult Google Maps and can see two other mountaineers trying to get to the same peak and you make broken contact in the hope they can give you tips on how they’re planning to summit. But one is stuck beneath a seemingly insurmountable cliff and the other is facing fields of burnt out bush on a vertical climb with nothing to hold onto on the way up.

Together you have to work out how to get to the peak you’re all facing, while dealing with your individual obstacles. 

The weather regularly changes without warning, bringing rain, then hail, then a whirling dervish, sprinkled with intermittent blue skies. Did we mention you’ve got 800 000 skiers and boarders strapped to your back, and thousands of tourism operators already stressed livelihoods – one wrong move and everyone goes down together? 

This is what Australia’s ski resorts and alpine tourism operators are climbing now. They’ve made it up the mountain, the peak has been green lit but now they have to navigate those cliffs and ledges, those gatherings, those lift lines, social distancing, potential new pass offerings for limited skier numbers per day, the hygiene and hospitals, car spacing, skitube, oversnow, staff accommodation, hotels, bars, restaurants. 

Communications are down, frustration is rife and we’re in radio silence, all guessing which route they’ve taken as we cheer them on, taking bets on who hits the summit first. 

Everyone wants to get to the top quickly, find the short cut, the easiest way, except the mountaineers because they’re looking for the safest way, they know every step counts, especially the slow and considered ones. 

It’s an arduous task, even more so after bushfire exhaustion, but the alternative is no ski season and the domino effect that brings. 

This is why you need to hug a ski resort and an alpine tourism operator today. Just do it virtually lest, you know, corona.

The week ahead 

So before everyone starts trolling or freaking out when ski season operational plans are announced in coming days and weeks, first for Victoria and then New South Wales – just remember there have been warnings that 2020 will be a season like you’ve never seen before.

Without it, however, you may not see a season again.

You may be pleasantly surprised or you may be frustrated with the plans that will be revealed in coming days and weeks, there will certainly be things you don’t like, but that’s life in a pandemic. 

While we have you, help SnowsBest remain your independent source of snow news this winter with a “Covid contribution“, so we can continue to deliver the news and content you value in a season when we need each other most. Contribute here.


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Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of SnowsBest.com. A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.