The Plan for the Season

President’s Report

Planning this season has been like playing a game of three-dimensional chess; for every decision we have to make we have had to consider multiple layers of influences and impacts. 

We have honestly done all we can to try to plan a season as normal as possibly – however, this year is obviously not a normal year.

In a regular season at this point we would be talking about the success of our first trips or a fantastic and fun holiday party.  This year however, as with many our things in our lives, we have had to adjust to the reality of the current situation. 

As you may be aware, the club has already been required to make some hard decisions regarding a number of trips due to the evolving situation from both our resort partners and the overall health situation.  

And this week your Board of Directors has had to make one of the most difficult decision . . .

We have made the determination that High Park Ski Club will not be arranging for any day trips, including drive-ups, while Toronto is in the GREY or RED zone categories. 

Throughout all of our planning and decision making, we have had the following guiding principles in mind:

  • We will follow the latest public health guidelines as outlined by the federal, provincial, municipal governments, as well our industry governing bodies;
  • We will attempt to minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19 within HPSC;
  • We will arrange for skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing when safety and guidelines allows; and
  • As a club we are all in this together.  To the best of our abilities, we will not create policies that favour one group of members over others.

As a volunteer-run non-profit club, we must act in good faith to abide by all guidelines and policies and procedures that we have put in place. As well, all members and volunteers are required to adhere to these standards in order to enable our club to continue to offer winter activities this season when we are able. As a club we do not have the same luxury in making choices as we have as individuals.  

Your Board has been working on a detailed COVID Protocol document that outlines the procedures and policies that we hope will allow us to move forward with this season. This document allows us to make decisions based on a set of principles and guidelines that have been thoroughly thought out.  It must be noted that this is a living document that will be updated as new knowledge, guidelines, and situations occur. 

The full document is available on our website at COVID Risk Management Framework_2020 12 10.pdf (hpsc.ca)

Following are some of the key highlights:

General

  • The club will act in good faith to abide by the COVID-19 mitigation guidelines established by the federal, provincial, municipal governments, resorts, public health agencies, and CSIA, CSCF, CASI, CANSI.
  • Decision to run trips will be based on the provincial guidelines.  Since HPSC is Toronto based and registered, we need to follow the guidelines as outlined for Toronto, no matter where our members live.
  • As such we will NOT be running/organizing trips if Toronto is in a GREY or RED zone.
  • There will be a mandatory COVID screener prior to all HPSC activities.  Those who are sick or have any symptoms are asked to still complete the screener but to not show up for the trip or event.  A full refund will be processed for these members.
  • All trips will be for HPSC members only.  There will be no Test Drive or Bring a Guest trips.

Lessons

  • Lessons will be limited to a ratio of four members to one instructor.
  • Limit downhhill/snowboard lessons to STEP 3/NOVICE and up.
  • To avoid crowded lesson lineups, lesson start/end times will be staggered.
  • Members will need to wear a non-perforated face covering whenever 6 feet distance cannot consistently be maintained (e.g. lift lines, lesson lineup) and in instances where the resort has mandated wearing a face covering.

Bus trips

  • When we are able to run buses (based on provincial public health guidelines), there will be a maximum of 30 members per bus, with most sitting by themselves in the window seat.  Members can sit with others in their households or whom they are bubbled with.
  • While on the bus, all members must wear an appropriate mask at all times.
  • On the bus, members will need to remain seated throughout the trip (with the exception of going to the washroom.)
  • Food, drink, and talking will be kept to a minimum on the bus. Please eat and drink prior to boarding the bus. No alcohol consumption will be allowed on the bus.
  • The bus will be fully cleaned by the bus company prior to the trip, and high touch areas will be cleaned after arrival and after lunch.

Long Trips/Charter trips

  • There will be no long bus trips this season.  Trips organized to Quebec destinations will be “self-drive” only.  HPSC will not be involved in arranging carpooling. 
  • On trips including Charter trips, there will be no trip leader on the trip.  A trip supervisor will be assigned to create an itinerary and general information which will be provided to trip participants prior to the trip.
  • HPSC will not be involved in assigning roommates this season. 

Consequences

  • Members who are found to not be following the outlined procedures and policies of the club, or those of our resort partners, will be open to escalating consequences from warnings, being asked to leave an event or lesson, suspension from further trips, to being barred from membership.

If a member tests Positive 

  • Members who participate in any club activities and subsequently test positive for COVID-19 within 14 days must inform the club of their test result and are suspended from participating in any club activity until medically cleared.  Close contacts are suspended for 14 days following possible exposure and encouraged to get tested. All close contacts (including all on a bus if that is the case) will be contacted by the club.

We realize that some of you will be disappointed by the processes, policies, and decisions we have had to make.  To be honest we also are disappointed, but these are the difficult decisions that, in the best interests of the club, we have had to make under the circumstances as they currently stand. 

As I have written before we will need to be very flexible in the coming months.  But given the good news this week regarding vaccinations, there is great optimism that next year at this time we will be celebrating together on a trip or at a fantastic holiday party! 

Justin Graham

President, High Park Ski Club 

Anticipation in Autumn!

President’s Message

I like to say that I survive the summer in anticipation of the fall and the joy of winter.  And this year is no different.

Autumn has always been one of my favourite times of the year – the crisp air, the colours of the trees, and of course preparing for the upcoming ski season, including the weekly HPSC SkiFit in High Park. This year, SkiFit has provided the opportunity for me to reconnect with members, as well as meeting a number of new members who have come out.  

I know that many of you have been anxious to hear what our exact plans are for the year. In a normal season all of these things would have been announced by now.  However, as we all know this is not a normal year.  We are still working out details (and prices) with the various resorts because they are still working things out on their side.  We will be communication plans as soon as we can. 

HPSC members are different than many Canadians – we actually look forward to the coming of winter.  And this year even more so than usual!  A good omen for me was the arrival a couple of weeks ago (on my birthday) of a surprise package – my Ikon pass for the coming season!!  And the news this past weekend that Mount Norquay in Banff has just opened, it’s earliest first day in it’s 95-year history.  

I know this season will be much different than usual, but I can tell you that I am still looking forward to having a fantastic year. 

Cheers!

Justin Graham

President, High Park Ski Club

December Downhill Day Trips Cancelled

Given the recent announcement regarding Toronto’s lockdown, we will be cancelling both downhill day trips scheduled in December. This was not the way we wanted to start our season, but in addition to Mother Nature not cooperating, this is the course we have to take. We are hopeful trips scheduled in January will go ahead. Stay tuned and stay home!

Sun Peaks Resort, Feb 28, 2021

Predictions are for great snow this winter at one of HPSC’s favourite destinations.  Our annual Sun Peaks trip usually sells out right away, but this year, there are still some spaces. There are 2 great hotel options in this ski in-out village. All Covid safety protocols are in place at Sun Peaks. Time is running out…

Looking for “Excitement!” ???
Beautiful Sun Peaks village – ski in-out

Sun Peaks deadline date is Dec 22nd. To sign up, login to the website, click on the Register button and contact the supervisor to make arrangements for the deposit.

What can I expect on the bus on cross-country day trips?

We are committed to running bus trips this season. Like past years, the bus will get you to and from the resort safely.

However, COVID-19 means that there will be some changes to the bus experience. Here is what you can expect on a HPSC bus this season….

Reduced bus capacity

We will be limiting the bus to 30 members. This will enable us to space out appropriately. If you come on the trip with a member of your household, you must sit with them (even if you are tired of them!). This will enable those without a bubble partner to sit alone.

Don’t forget your masks!

Masks must be worn on the bus at all times on the trip up and down. They must be multi-layered cloth or medical masks. No neck warmers, scarves, bandanas, buffs, masks with valves etc. Be sure to bring more than one in case you lose it, it gets wet etc. Eight months in, you should have a nice little selection of them by now.

Limited food and drink consumption while in motion

Unfortunately, the Director will not be making brownies for you this year.

You are only permitted absolutely necessary food and drink consumption, limited to quick sips of water and very quick snacks. No full meals, no sharing of food, no alcohol permitted. This is the only instance in which you may – briefly – remove your mask. Please do not board with a cup of coffee and leisurely drink it. Please eat breakfast before you board (or at the resort upon arrival) and make sure to hydrate and eat before you board the bus to come home. Ideally there will be no food and drink consumption while the bus is in motion and everyone is on board, but we recognize there may be some limited, medically necessary circumstances.

A quiet trip

While we can have fun socializing – physically distanced – with our friends while skiing, the bus will be a quieter ride than normal. We request that you keep talking to a minimum. You must remain seated at all times, except if you need to use the washroom. Please no socializing on the trip to and from the washroom.

Keep the rambunctious fun on the trails!

Different check in procedures

The bus captain will not check members in by talking to them individually. The bus captain will use the microphone to call out your name and remind you of your registration options. If you have a serious issue, you may call the bus captain over, but please try to save your questions for arrival at the resort. Likewise the DOD will not be talking to members about lessons; you must register in advance. If you haven’t, you can go to the meeting point and see if they can fit you in.

All members are expected to follow our policies and procedures if they choose to come on a bus trip this year. If we all work together and cooperate, we can have a safe ski season!

What can I expect at the cross-country resorts this year?

As a member of our cross-country organizing committee said the other day, we’re coming full circle this year, going back to how people used to ski before fancy chalets were built. What did this look like? You showed up in your car, got ready to ski in the parking lot beside your car, grabbed your day pack with all your ‘survival items’ for the day and headed out. When you got back, you changed by your car, hopped in and headed home.

Get into your costume outside this year!

Given physical distancing rules for indoor spaces, you can probably guess that access to indoor space is going to be very limited at the resorts this year. We will be unable to rent private rooms this year. Gone are the days of all those leisurely indoor activities – getting ready, reading, socializing. Indoor time should be limited to quick trips to use the washroom and warm up for a few minutes. But be prepared that you may have to wait in lines to do so.

Where do I get ready and store my bags?

Members will have to store their bags and get ready on the bus. We suggest that you come to the bus already dressed in your ski clothes. The same goes for the end of the day – you will not be able to change in the resort and thus you may not be able to fully change your clothes, unless you are comfortable doing so in the parking lot (if you are, great!). Otherwise, we suggest bringing a dry top and socks to change into (trust me, dry feet make all the difference) and be sure to have your winter parka waiting for you on the bus.

Where can I eat lunch?

We will have the bus open for an extended lunch period. A maximum of 10 people will be allowed on the bus and must space out appropriately. We request that you eat quickly with no socializing. If there are people waiting outside to come on the bus, vacate the bus as quickly as you can. We don’t want to formalize lunch slots, and hope our members can be courteous with each other. The bus will be wiped down after lunch.

Speaking of lunch, there are going to be limited food options available at the resorts, and what exists may take a long time to get. We suggest bringing your own lunch and snacks on every trip.

If it’s warm enough, we recommend bringing your lunch on the trails with you.

It’s often nice enough to eat outside, especially in March. If you like a hot lunch, invest in a thermos!

What should I bring?

Because you will be spending significant amounts of time outside this year, we recommend that you bring a small day pack filled with items to help keep you warm should you have to wait outside while not skiing. While everyone is different, this could include extra gloves/mitts (really warm ones!), a dry top base layer (maybe something thicker than what you ski in to keep you warmer), an extra pair of socks, and a down jacket that folds up small (a great investment in the winter). Pack water and extra snacks – a hydrated and fueled body is a warmer body!

Are the resorts taking extra measures to provide warming options for guests?

We have been talking to the resorts about their winter plans. Our sense is that right now resorts are not planning for extra facilities and infrastructure. They expect people to use their cars (and for us, the bus) as their “home base”. This could change through the season, but for now we recommend not counting on it. So bring what you need to keep yourself comfortable in the cold. Look at the weather forecast and evaluate for yourself if you will be comfortable being outside (you can cancel by Wednesday at 8pm). We will update members about resort facilities as new information becomes available.

If you have any questions about the season, please contact crosscountry@hpsc.ca

How does COVID-19 affect my cross-country ski lessons?

Our Cross-Country Ski School is working hard to ensure that we can offer high quality lessons within the guidelines set to keep you safe.

Your instructors will still be all smiles…just from 6ft away!

We will have fewer instructors available this year and we must adhere to a strict 4:1 student instructor ratio. This means that we will be offering 4 lessons every trip – 3 classic and 1 skate – with only 4 students per class. Members will have to sign up for lessons online during trip registration, indicating their class of choice if space permits. Unfortunately, this year we may not be able to fit everyone in who wants a lesson. Priority for lessons spots will go to the members on the bus. We will accommodate drive ups if possible.

COVID-19 guidelines will generally not affect the actual ski lessons. Cross-country skiing is an ideal physically distanced activity and our lessons are normally small groups. To keep everyone in lessons safe…

  1. The instructor will ensure that all participants are physically distanced throughout the lesson.
  2. If physical distancing is not possible at times, the instructor will ask all participants to put on their mask.
  3. The instructors will not be providing video analysis.
Expect the same crazy antics! Just further apart.

All participants must complete the COVID-19 screener on the morning of the trip and prior to the lesson. The instructor will confirm this with you before starting the lesson. If you have not done it, and are not able/willing to do it on your phone, you will be asked to leave the lesson.

If we are unable to run the buses, we will not be running any HPSC lessons.

If you have questions about our lessons and new protocols, please contact crosscountry@hpsc.ca.

How do I register for cross-country day trips this year?

If you are a member and want to register for a trip, the procedures haven’t drastically changed. But we wanted to review the process and highlight a few things that have changed.

Step 1: Find the trip you want to go on

You can find our event calendar with all the registration modules here. Immediate upcoming events will appear on HPSC’s home page.

Don’t worry, our calendar is online!

Registration modules will be visible for the entire season, but trips will open for registration on the Monday two weeks before the trip at 9am. The date a trip opens for registration will be on the event description.

Please be patient; we will get the registration modules up as soon as we can!

Step 2: Decide which registration module you need to use

For each trip, you will see two registration modules – one for bus participants and one for drive ups. Choose whichever one is relevant for you.

The drive up registration module is only for drive ups who want to take lessons. If you aren’t taking lessons, you don’t register at all for a trip. You may meet the club where we are going, but you must pay for your own trail pass and rentals at the resort.

Step 3: Register!

Carefully follow the registration instructions.

For bus participants, answer all the questions – chose the bus (or voucher if you have one to use), your the trail pass (ski or snowshoe), your rentals if needed (classic or skate), your bus pick up location, and your lesson level if taking lessons. You must pay before your registration is seat is confirmed. If you do not pay, your registration will canceled after 15 minutes and you will not be on the trip. You will not be able to change your trail pass and rental registration options, so be careful! If you change your mind, you will have to arrange it yourself at the resort and incur the extra costs. If you have questions about registering, email crosscountry@hpsc.ca.

For drive ups registration, you will only indicate the lesson level you want. You must pay for your own trail pass and rentals at the resort. Please only register for lessons if you actually intend to come.

For both bus and drive up registrations, you must check a box indicating that you agree to follow HPSC’s COVID-19 policies and procedures and that you will not come on the trip if you are feeling ill. This is of paramount importance to ensure the safety of our member and the continuation of our ski season.

Register and find yourself in a winter wonderland!

Drive ups and cross-country day trips

We are making every effort to run our buses this season if public health guidelines allow us to do so safely. The bus experience has always been the cornerstone of our club – the bus is a space for furthering the friendships made on the snow. Plus, you get to sleep after a hard day on the trails.

But, this year is different. We understand that some members are hesitant to take the bus, but still want to take advantage of the lessons the club offers.

If you take a lesson, you too can learn advanced ski maneuvers like this.

If you want to drive up and take lessons this season, there are some things you need to know…

Members on the bus will get priority

Because bus members will be outside all day (i.e., they will not have a private car in which to take refuge), they – particularly beginners – will receive priority for lessons. Drive up members may sign up for lessons and we will let you know on the Friday prior to the trip if there is a spot for you. Our ski school will have fewer instructors this year and we must follow strict guidelines to keep our members safe. This means we just don’t have the capacity to offer lessons on the same scale as in the past.

You must register online for your lesson

Lessons in a winter wonderland at Scenic Caves.

You will now register for the trip online just like bus participants. Look at the calendar and find the trip you want. You will see two modules for every trip – a bus module and a drive up module. Choose the drive up module and follow the instructions to register for your lesson.

You must still buy your own trail pass and rentals at the resort

Unfortunately, we are unable to process payment for your trail pass and rentals. Please arrive at the resort early enough to take care of that before the lesson.

Sometimes we take away your equipment!

Meet the club at the resort and join your lesson

If there is a spot for you in a lesson, we will let you know on Friday. We will also let you know where and when to meet. Generally we meet in front of the chalet 30 minutes after the bus arrives (usually 1030-11am depending on the location).

You must complete the COVID-19 screener BEFORE you join the lesson

By registering for a lesson, you agree to follow all of HPSC’s COVID-19 policies and procedures. On the morning of the trip, before joining the lesson, you must complete the COVID-19 screener (the link will be in the trip status email). The instructor will confirm that you have completed it. If you haven’t, you may not join the lesson. If we discover that you incorrectly told us that you did, you will be considered in contravention of our policies and serious consequences may follow.

What if I want to drive up, but I don’t want lessons?

If you want to drive up and meet your HPSC friends for a ski day (even if you are not a member), that’s fine. Look at the schedule to see where we’re going and just meet us there. You do not register online as you have to pay for your own trail pass and rentals at the resort.

However, we request that if you are experiencing symptoms of illness, please do not interact with HPSC members (it’s best to stay home!). If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 and have skied with HPSC members, we request that you email crosscountry@hpsc.ca with a list of people that you skied with so that we can contact trace appropriately. Thanks in advance for considering the safety of our club.

If you have any questions about driving up, please email crosscountry@hpsc.ca.

Instructor Heather with a couple consistent drive up members in winter 2020. Hope to see you – physically distanced, of course – this year!

A Successful 2020 SkiFit Season!

Photo by member David Flowers. Last SkiFit on Saturday November 14, 2020

Since the beginning of this pandemic, High Park Ski Club has said it will follow the stated public health guidelines. Due to the change in public health guidelines for Toronto, we had to cancel the final two SkiFit sessions.

On the positive side, we had 10 very productive and enjoyable SkiFit sessions since September on beautiful fall Saturday mornings in High Park. I don’t recall one bad weather Saturday.

Thank you to all who made it out to the sessions. A number of new members came out, as well as a core of longer-term members. Hope that you had a good time preparing for the upcoming season.

I would also like to sincerely thank George, Cynthia, Theo, and Sandra for assisting in running our weekly hiking sessions.

I hope we are able to get back to our normal fitness program next year and look forward to seeing all of you at SkiFit starting in September 2021. Hopefully we will be able to reinstate our traditional post-workout brunch.

For your own personal mental and physical health, I would encourage all of you still get outside for some exercise before the beginning of the season. I know that I will.

Please stay safe and healthy!

Justin

Long Trip >>> I must Cancel? Trip Cancelled?

As always, travel insurance is STRONGLY recommended for all trips. For charter trips, you can purchase from the tour operator a travel insurance policy covering cancellation due to medical conditions, and covering medical expenses while you are away. You can also add on to this policy, “Cancel For Any Reason” insurance (CFAR) which allows you to cancel at any time, or for any reason. CFAR is available on all trips.

BOO HOO, I REALLY WANTED TO GO SKIING! BUT NOW I CAN’T…

IF YOU MUST CANCEL from a trip whether for illness, injury or any reason, here are the conditions. First of all, email the supervisor who needs to know immediately and will assist you to follow the rules and procedures to get a refund.

a. Charter trip,
Cancellation policies are set by the tour operators, not HPSC. In each trip description, there is a paragraph which outlines the cancellation conditions for that specific trip.

b. Overnight trip,
Cancellation policy and procedures are described on the website; click CANCELLATION POLICY 2021. Importantly, members should note that there is no refund for cancelling within 7 days of departure.

____________________________________________________________

OH, NO. …….. NOT AGAIN !!

What happens IF A TRIP IS CANCELLED because the hotel or resort has closed due to COVID? In the unlikely event of a total cancellation, you will be informed immediately.

a. Charter trip,
Refunds will be given according to the policies of the tour operator and resort. This will require a claim on your own insurance or the insurance you purchased from the tour operator. Instead of a full refund you could possibly be offered a partial refund and future travel credit.

b. Overnight trip,
You will likely get a full refund. Where HPSC has been fully reimbursed by it’s suppliers, members will receive a refund of same. Where HPSC has not been reimbursed or only partially reimbursed, members will be expected to claim a refund from their own insurance. This year our 2021 hotel contracts were structured for a full refund. Member refunds will be made back to the credit card that was used for payment.