Conditions update: January 12, 2022

While we can’t run buses, we know that members will be getting out on the trails themselves if they are able. Someone requested that I do a conditions update so members know where the best conditions are in a particular week. This is the first installment! I will be covering the resorts we generally visit around Barrie and Collingwood, and a couple closer to the city. This is not an exhaustive list.

Scenic Caves has the best conditions with a 30cm base. Highlands reports an 8cm base with track in, a little thin on the Back Red and Hawberry, but I expect the main trails are in great shape. Hardwood and Horseshoe have about 15cm base depths and good conditions, although they still need more snow to build up those bases. They were just able to put in a decent track this week. Wasaga is apparently open with track set and reporting good conditions, although looks like a thinner base (10cm). Closer to the city, Albion is still closed and Mono has skiable coverage, but no track. Probably decent for skating. Mansfield is open but the trails are ungroomed. You are welcome to ski on the trails if you want.

More snow overall not likely to come until next week, so conditions not likely to improve until then. Will be very cold Friday/Saturday. Be careful of those fingers and toes if you venture out Saturday am in particular.

Check back early next week for the next installment!

Before you ski, check out the conditions on the resort websites:

Hardwood

Horseshoe (tip: Horseshoe is notorious for not reporting accurately. If you want to go, check Hardwood. If Hardwood is reporting sketchy conditions, you know that Horseshoe will be worse)

Scenic Caves

Highlands

Wasaga, Arrowhead and other provincial parks

Albion Hills

Mono Nordic

Mansfield

President’s Message – Deju Vu All Over Again!

January 5, 2022

Dear HPSC Members

To quote the famous New York Yankee Yogi Berra – “It’s deju vu all over again!” 

Last season we had to make the tough decision to cancel all daytrips and bus trips. This year, we were very optimistic that we would be able run a close to normal season – but then . . . . OMICRON!!!

The biggest difference this season, compared to last, is that the provincial government has not shut down Ontario downhill ski resorts.  This means that we can still provide lessons and run drive-up only trips beginning on January 15th (signup open this coming Saturday).  Cross-country trips are bus dependent and will only run when we start to run buses. 

To make this clear: We have NOT cancelled running buses for the rest of the season.  We will re-evaluate buses on a regular basis and will start bus trips as soon as we can. 

We understand that there has been a bit of information overload regarding the upcoming season – but we are attempting to keep members informed of changes as they happen.  As you can guess, this season has had a lot of changes requiring us to be very flexible.    

I want to wish all of you a very happy New Year!  And hope we can all soon get out on the hills and trails to enjoy the sports that we love!

Please stay safe.

Justin Graham

President, High Park Ski Club

President’s Message – Happy Holidays!!

Home Smith Park, December 25, 2020 Photo by JK Graham

December 22, 2021

HPSC Friends,

I would like to wish all of you the very best of the holidays! 

As you know we have been planning very hard, as best we can, for what we had hoped to be a close facsimile of a normal season.  But the one thing we have all learned over the last two years is the need to stay flexible.  During the last three weeks we have gone from being fairly optimistic of starting the season, weather dependent, on time, to having to make the following announcement. 

As we have stated repeatedly, the safety of our members is our top priority.  Therefore, due to the rapid increase of COVID cases due to the Omicron variant we have made the decision to pause the beginning of the season.  And to start, unfortunately, we will not be able to run any buses.

Downhill daytrips will begin on Saturday January 15th and continue as scheduled as drive-up only events.  This means that we will offer lessons by our Snow School.  To participate you will need to register via HPSC for lessons, but you will need to purchase your lift ticket directly from the resort. For the Wednesday trips we are still discussing with the clubs how tickets will be handled.   

Due to the changing situation, registration for each week’s trip will also open one week prior to the first trip and continue on a weekly basis.  Registration will close for the weekend and Monday trips as usual on Thursday at 6pm.  Due to new requirements at the private clubs, we have had to move up the registration deadline as well to Thursday at 6pm. So all downhill trips will now close at the same time.  Registration for the first week will open on January 8th.

On the cross-country side, all trips at this point are postponed until at least January 22nd, and will only run if we are able to run bus trips. 

Our plan is to continuously monitor the situation and to start running buses when it is feasible, so please read all communications carefully from the club to stay informed. 

Further, due to the revised regulations announced last week regarding the need for a PCR test for any trip outside of the country, even for less than 72 hours, the Long Trips Committee has made the decision to cancel our yearly trip to Holiday Valley for this season.

Never a dull moment!

Happy Holidays! Enjoy the season and please stay safe.  And if you are able to, get your booster shot when you can. 

Cheers!

Justin Graham

President, High Park Ski Club

What happens if you test positive after being on a HPSC trip?

As you may be aware, last year the Board of Directors prepared a detailed COVID Protocol document.  The document has been updated for the 2021/22 season and is posted on our website.

One area that members should be aware of is what to do if they test positive for COVID after being on a HPSC trip/event.

If a member tests positive within 14 days of being on a trip/event, they MUST contact the appropriate Director (Downhill Day Trips, Director of Cross-Country and Snowshoeing, Long Trips, Social) ASAP. You should inform the Director if you were in a lesson and the name of their instructor if possible. The club will then contact all possible close contacts in a lesson or on the bus.  You should contact any people you were with outside of the bus or lesson.    

All impacted members are encouraged to get a PCR COVID test and to self-isolate as recommended by public health guidelines. All affected members are put on 14-day suspension (from the date of possible exposure) from all club activities. The suspension will be lifted earlier if they are able to provide the club with a negative PCR test result. If a member on the contact list subsequently tests positive during the 14-day period, they must inform the club.  The original COVID positive member is suspended from all trips/club activities until official clearance is provided to the Director of Membership.

If the club experiences two or more cases of COVID-19 on a trip/event that are not from the same household, this is considered an outbreak. All trips/events in that portfolio of the club (Alpine or Cross-country, Social) will be immediately cancelled for 2 weeks.

If a second outbreak occurs, all trips for that portfolio of the club (Alpine or Cross-Country, Social) will be cancelled for the rest of the season. 

Dec. 29 Scenic Caves Trip Canceled

Unfortunately we have had to cancel our Dec. 29th trip to Scenic Caves. Unforeseen operational issues combined with the lack of winter make it impossible to run the trip.

The first trip is still tentatively scheduled for Jan. 2. Keep an eye here, on the website and on our social media channels for updates.

Cross-country day trips, COVID style (December update)

As we get closer to the season, I am sure that everyone has questions about what the experience on the bus and at the resorts is going to be…here are some answers! We encourage new members to read this carefully. The experience will not be what we are used to, but with some patience and good humour, we can have fun.

What can I expect on the bus?

As of now, the buses will run at almost full capacity. Masks (cloth or medical masks) are mandatory. A buff is not a mask. Proper masks must cover the nose and the mouth. Not wearing masks properly will not be tolerated. Please note that studies show that medical masks (especially N95s, which are more widely available now) are more effective than cloth masks with no filter. While we will not dictate what kind of masks members should wear, we strongly encourage members to choose the most effective masks they can. This keeps all of us safe.

While the bus is in motion, we expect members to stay in their seats (except for quick washroom trips). We ask that members don’t eat or drink (except quick sips if medically necessary). No sharing of food and no consuming alcohol.

At most places, we will have to eat lunch on the bus or on the trail. When on the bus for lunch, please ensure you eat lunch quickly to limit the amount of time that you are not wearing a mask.

There will not be any capacity limits enforced at any point unless we feel it is necessary after the first few trips. We are confident that members will be courteous of each other and work hard to make our trips a success.

What can I expect at the resorts?

Members are expected to follow all resort rules, which will be communicated on the registration modules and in the day trip status email/webpage.

Resorts all have different policies, but in general, we will not be able to store bags/get ready/hang out in the chalet like we normally do. You will be able to use the indoor washrooms (only Wasaga will have portable washrooms). You will be able to pop in for quick spells to warm up (emphasis on quick; Wasaga, Georgian Nordic, Kawartha are exceptions in that we anticipate no indoor space). If you want indoor space to eat, you usually will have to use the bus (Scenic Caves is the only exception). The bus cannot idle all day, so it may not be very warm, but it will be out of the wind.

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!

At the end of the day, you may not be able to get fully changed like you are used to. Bring a dry top and dry socks and ensure a warm parka is on the bus waiting for you. Departure times are generally (with some exceptions) going to be earlier to account for the increased time spent outside.

The caveat…

Policies and procedures were set before Omicron was identified. We are watching the public health situation closely over the next couple weeks and may alter our policies and procedures in accordance with public health guidelines.

Please note that the Dec. 29th trip has been cancelled (largely due to the slow arrival of winter). We will tentatively start our season on Jan. 2. Keep an eye on the website and our social media channels for updates. That trip would open for registration on Dec. 20.

Cross-country day trips begin Dec. 29!

Your cross-country ski and snowshoe team is excited to announce that the first trip of the season will be a rare mid-week trip for us – Wed., Dec. 29 to Scenic Caves! Since Christmas and New Year’s both fall on weekends, we couldn’t schedule our regular New Year’s celebration on the weekend. So we’re trying something new!

Are you off work in between Christmas and New Year’s? Get in a ski on what we hope will be relatively quiet midweek trails. Ring in a new year with friends and enjoy the first HPSC trip back in nearly two years!

We will have access to the log cabin and the adjacent washrooms. There is no food, so bring your own. You may want to bring a ski pack with some extra food and warm, dry clothing. There are rentals.

No lessons on this trip – let’s just get our ski legs back!

Registration opens Dec. 15th.

Cross-country schedule online + registration procedure changes

As we get ever closer to the ski season (where did that lovely snow go?!), the cross-country ski and snowshoe team has posted it’s schedule on the website (in the season update). The schedule is subject to change as we work with the resorts to make this season a reality!

Regular members will notice a change to how our registration process will work this year. Normally we load the registration modules for all the trips at the start of the season and members can register for trips far into the season. This year, we are not doing that. Given the uncertainty surrounding COVID, we need the ability to remain flexible and mitigate losses should we have to cancel trips. Therefore, trips will open for registration TWO WEEKS in advance, generally on Monday at 9am.

For the first few weeks of the season, this means:

Dec. 29th (Scenic Caves, no lessons) – opens Dec. 15.

Jan. 2 (Scenic Caves, beginner lessons only, guided snowshoeing) – opens Dec. 20

Jan. 8 (Highlands)/Jan. 9 (Hardwood TBC) (both offer lessons and guided snowshoeing) – opens Dec. 27

Due to restrictions at the resort, we are limiting trips to one bus. If the trip is full when you want to book, put yourself on the waitlist. There are always cancellations and many people get on trips if they put they put themselves on the waitlist.

There are no walk ons this year. If you want to come ski with us, please register.

Cross-Country 101 Virtual Session

Have you joined the club and are interested in cross-country skiing? Never skied before? It’s been a long time? This is the session for you!

We are offering a virtual session for new (and returning) members to get you primed for the ski season. Heather Steel, Cross-Country Ski and Snowshoe Director, will cover all the basics of skiing (types of skiing, gear, wax, clothing etc.), how the club works (registration for trips, bus procedures etc.) and answer all your questions.

Date: Nov. 22

Time: 7pm

Register: HPSC – Cross-Country Skiing 101: Sliding on Skinny Skis

Session will be limited to 100 people. Must be registered members of HPSC. We will send a zoom link the day before the session.

Where to buy cross-country ski and snowshoe gear

The winter will be here before we know it! If you want to buy gear rather than rent, you may want to think about it sooner rather than later. Last year, cross-country ski gear flew off the shelves as people sought safe ways to enjoy winter outside. While demand may not be at the same level (especially if downhill is open and some indoor fun returns), I still expect it to be high. October is usually when new stock arrives. So, where can you buy gear?

Retailers

Velotique – a bike and ski shop in the east end. They are probably the most knowledgeable about skis in the city. My top recommendation for a city retailer.

MEC – we all know MEC. I don’t find the staff is as knowledgeable anymore, but if you know what you want, it’s a great option.

Skiis and Bikes – I think they sell cross-country equipment? It’s been a while since I’ve been in the store. But you can give them a try too.

Ski resorts

If you can get out to Hardwood or Highlands Nordic, both have top notch pro shops with excellent staff who can fit you right. My top choice because I trust them.

Call the resorts to find out their shopping policies. You may still have to book appointments this year.

Ski swaps

Hardwood, Highlands and sometimes Velotique host ski swaps where you buy used equipment (or take your equipment to be sold). If we receive information about ski swaps, we will share on the blog and on the Facebook group. These generally happen in October and November.

Received word that Hardwood’s Ski Swap is Oct. 16-17 by reservation. Book early! https://www.hardwoodskiandbike.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Ski-Swap-Guide-2021.pdf

Received word that Highland’s Ski Swap is Oct. 30-31. Double vaccination required. Highlands Trailblazer Dust Em’ Off Ski Swap – 2021 – Highlands Nordic

If you have questions about gear, there is lots of information on the blog about just that!

A primer on buying skis, boots, and poles

A bit on waxing

A primer on buying snowshoes

Clothing considerations