The corona virus (Covid 19) is spreading rapidly across Europe. This also has consequences for the Alpine countries. We freeriders prefer to be on the road with some friends, far from the beaten track and the crowds. Yet Corona has consequences for our freedom of movement. More and more ski areas are closing their lifts prematurely for the rest of the season and travel bans are increasingly being imposed by local authorities.
At the time of writing, all ski resorts in Italy are closed for the rest of the winter season.
Things are rapidly changing in Austria. The lifts will be running on March the 15th for the last time this winter season in Vorarlberg, Tirol and the Salzburgerland, and other regions in Austria are expected to follow soon. Good sources to follow the actual news in Austria are the websites of skigebiete-test.de and meinbezirk.at.
In Switzerland, the ski resorts in Ticino are (temporarily?) closed. Switzerland is organized in Cantons which have a high degree of autonomy, but at national level is now being examined which legislation is available to introduce far-reaching measures at national scale. Be aware that the possibilities for us freeriders in Switzerland are also curtailed in the coming weeks. A good source to follow the developments in Switzerland is SRF.ch
In Germany, at the time of writing, the first ski areas are also closing their lifts. For an up-to-date overview I refer you to the skigebiete-test.de website.
Is Norway an alternative option? The ski areas are loaded with snow and the best season has just started in Lofoten . But the Norwegian government has announced an defacto entry ban for foreigners until at least March 26th. Good sources for the current status are the sites of Visit Norway and the Norwegian government.
I am not a medical expert, so I follow the advice of experts as much as possible and the measures announced by local authorities. Because we deal with different countries, this can differ from country to country or even from region to region. In addition, what was true yesterday is regularly obsolete today.
The most important starting point to overthink for your actions is the following: those who do not travel cannot transfer Corona to other regions. By not spreading Corona further, you ensure that the virus does not spread and that the pressure on the medical system does not increase which may save lives at the end.
With the llifts closed ski touring and split boarding are definitely an option, but travel restrictions will become a problem in the coming days/weeks. Of course this doesn't apply for the true local. If you live near a (snow-covered) mountain, you can now fully enjoy the peace and quiet in the mountains. It is only the middle of March and for sure some storms will pass by. If the local government doesn't forbid you, I would say: put your skins under you skis or board and skin up your local mountain from your house.
But if you live a little further away from a beautiful mountain, it quickly becomes more difficult. First of all, there is the risk that you unnoticed bring the Corona virus to (small) communities in the mountains. Secondly, there is the risk of getting stuck due to increasingly strict travel restrictions and cannot leave. Third, finding a place to sleep will become increasingly difficult with more and more ski resorts shutting down their operations.
These are confusing days and it feels strange now that my sense of freedom is being curbed. Nevertheless, I have chosen to go to my home country and am behave according the wishes of the authorities and experts. Let's hope this Corona storm settles quickly so that those who live further from the mountains can enjoy the last weeks of winter and make some nice tours sometime in April or May.
For those who have a snow-covered mountain in the backyard: have fun in the coming weeks! Keep us informed with words and pictures of your adventures and keep our stoke alive. I will continue to provide you with regular weather updates in the coming weeks so you know when to expect some fresh snow.
Stay strong and healthy, stay stoked.
Your Powfinder Morris