3 outdoor activities to enjoy in a closed ski resort


We find ourselves in unchartered territory as Coronavirus tightens its global grip. For those that have made their way to a ski destination or indeed live in one, we can only look on as many of the resorts close and cease to spin their lifts. In an effort to glean something positive from this, there are fortunately still some sporting actives that we can enjoy – whilst maintaining safe social distancing and without placing ourselves at risk. Here are 3 outdoor activities that we can still enjoy in a closed ski resort.

1. Backcountry skiing

For those that have experience in avalanche terrain and/or the ability to hire a guide, backcountry skiing or snowboarding is an excellent alternative to resort riding. Not only is it a great work out and way to experience the great outdoors, but it comes without any lift lines, shared gondolas or chairlifts – and other people all together. There is no need for any physical contact with your fellow adventurers, and you can enjoy a whole of day of backcountry touring without once being indoors or in a confined space! Coronavirus aside, it is a magnificent experience, often offering great snow conditions and the complete peace of quiet of the mountains. As with all backcountry touring – do be sure that you have the necessary skills and experience to be in avalanche terrain, or hire a guide if in doubt.

2. Snowshoeing

An incredibly underrated past time, snowshoeing is another way to immerse yourself in the mountains and does not require you to come in to close contact with anyone else. The design of the snowshoes allow you to access areas that regular footwear does not, and therefore maximise on the scenery, peace, or physical activity element. As an added incentive, snowshoeing does not require any specialised skills, training or even prior experience – so is a good option for families or groups or individuals of most ages and fitness levels. As with backcountry skiing, there is nothing stopping you from enjoying a picnic and sitting for a while in the fresh mountain air! Do be wary of your route and avoid bigger, more avalanche prone terrain. For many years snowshoeing has been overshadowed by skiing and snowboarding – so maybe now is the time for a comeback?

3. Snow biking

Snow Biking is exactly as it sounds and can be scaled from entry to advanced skill levels. For those that have not tried it before, start by biking on flat, even terrain and ride it as you would a normal bike. Once you have gotten to feel for it, and become well acquainted with the fatter tires and deeper tread, feel free to add some ups and downs into your Journey. It is a great way to explore a local area, whilst avoiding public transport and larger thoroughfares. For those with experience, you could tackle some of the closed ski slopes (if permitted) with a rigorous work out on the up and an adrenalin filled decent. Another the checks the boxes for safe social distancing, fresh air and a good work out, the skills required for snow biking are not too dissimilar to that of regular biking – making it accessible for most people.

Though the current situation in closed ski resorts is far from ideal, it could be could be an opportunity to pick up a new sport and truly reconnect with our surroundings. After all – when was the last time that we were able to enjoy a ski resort without the hum of chairlifts turning and the swishing of skiers rushing by?

Nadine Robb is Owner and Instructor at Hakuba Ski Concierge. Hakuba Ski Concierge is a boutique ski school in Hakuba, Japan.

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Comments (10)

  1. Ed says:

    This is brilliant. We can all be narrow-minded when it comes to skiing holidays. This crisis might make us try some new activities. I’m up for trying all three.

    • Jeff says:

      Wow, all three? That’s brave of you! Snowshoeing sounds great to me. Just picturing myself doing that as a social-distancing practice makes me feel a little better throughout this whole mess.

  2. Maggie says:

    As the old saying has it – necessity is the mother of invention. I expect over the next few months or year it will not just be skiing reinventing itself but lots of parts of the holiday industry as well. People will get creative and imaginative to survive.

    • Colin Wheeler says:

      Yes, I think the travel industry will look very different in a year’s time. As usual it will be the smaller businesses that will adapt the quickest. Look out for small hotels finding new attractions to lure you in and they’ll get their ads before your eyes rapidly too. I remember reading about all these big expansion plans that some of the major hotel brands have. After months without much sales revenue will they have the cash-flow to fulfil of this new building.

  3. Mike Watkins says:

    You’ve sold back country skiing to me. Wouldn’t want to do it for a whole week though. Next time I go skiing I’ll try back country for a couple of days. Maybe I’m getting older, perhaps that’s why a quieter activity away from the crowds is beginning to appeal to me.

    • Nadine says:

      I am delighted to have even one backcountry convert from this piece! Exactly as you say, you wouldn`t want to do it all week (any one would be flogged doing it for multiple days!) but it is a truly life changing experience and wonderful introduction to a new way of being in the mountains!

  4. Jack says:

    I’m very relieved that I didn’t book a ski holiday this year. Some of my friends lost money and never got to ski at all. But I will miss my annual trip to the Alps. Exciting suggestions here for when I finally get out there.

    • Nadine Robb says:

      That is so disappointing to hear that friends of yours lost money – I would have really hoped that operators would have been more understanding in these times. On the up side and off of the back of this – many ski resort based businesses are offering big discounts and full refund guarantees on next winter trips; so it could be a good time to make some plans for next winter and cash in on those discounts and free cancellations!

  5. Rachael Jessop says:

    I’m not a skier but if I was I’d be taken with the idea of backcountry skiing where there are minimal people and just the terrain to myself to explore. I image that would be pretty refreshing. Hard work without lifts where needed but as you say, a good work out. I remember a film as a kid but I can’t remember what it was called, where a bunch of people went out snow shoeing and it looked like so much fun! Definitely a good idea if you’re able to and it’s nice and quiet. As for biking, I never knew that was a thing. Isn’t it going to be really difficult to bike on thick snow? I’m curious about that one now. Probably great for toning your legs with all the muscle power required for trickier hilly parts!

    • Nadine says:

      Thank you for your comment Rachel. Fortunately snow shoeing and backcountry share a lots of similarities – so snowshoeing would be a great way for you to experience the quiet and peace of nature even if you have never skied before. I think it is often an overlooked sport – and people forget that with minimal skills (walking!) you can immerse yourself fully into the mountains and access terrain that we assume is reserved only for skiers and snowboarders.

      Snow biking is a lot of fun – give it try when you next visit a snowy area! Most rental shops would have them available – and it does practise but does translate well from ordinary biking with some patience. Enjoy!

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