BOISE, Idaho — Skiers and snowboarders flocked to Bogus Basin as the non-profit recreation area opened the mountain for the first time this winter.
The parking lot was full, and the base was crowded even though Bogus Basin didn't sell any tickets and only allowed season pass holders to show up.
"We never anticipated the number of people up here today," said Brad Wilson, Bogus Basin's General Manager. "It is really hard to understand how much demand there is, but if today is any indication, there is a lot of pent-up demand and a lot of happy skiers and snowboarders."
It's a busy day up at Bogus Basin for the first day of the season! Opening weekend is reserved for season pass holders, but seven day a week operations start for everyone next week! We'll more on opening day tonight on Idaho News 6. pic.twitter.com/PqxxAvcECq— Idaho News 6 (@IdahoNews6) November 27, 2020
Bogus Basin has implemented several protocols to help keep their guests safe on the mountain, and Wilson says it looked like a bigger crowd than it was because they spaced out the lines to include an empty ghost line for social distancing.
"It's a brave new world out here, and we are working through the COVID guidelines," said Wilson. "We are sticklers with masks."
The skiers and snowboarders didn't seem to mind most people sported baklavas or traditional masks you see around town.
"It is not too bad because normally people are wearing face masks anyway, so that's not a big thing," said snowboarder Audrey Walker. "They got the tent down here, which is nice."
Bogus Basin set up ventilated tents at both bases to give people a spot to relax, eat some food and many people used their cars as a home base.
The days of lounging in the lodge are over for the foreseeable future. Lodges can be only be utilized to quickly grab some food or use the restroom.
"You know it is really different without fully being able to go in the lodge," said snowboarder Quinton Mitchel. "But as long as I'm out here snowboarding, it is a good time no matter what, there is nothing like it, it is awesome, it is beautiful."
It was a perfect bluebird day to open the season. The weekend figures to also be busy. Bogus Basin will close Monday and Tuesday for maintenance. They did have a lift break down on the backside they were working to repair. On Wednesday, they plan to start selling tickets, but they could also make adjustments following the weekend.
"There is no playbook for COVID-19, I wish there was," said Wilson, who also told us that weeks ago when Bogus Basin was preparing for opening day. "It's busier than we thought it would be, but we are handling it quite well."
The average lift line at the base took 12 minutes; Wilson told us the lifts ran at about 70 percent capacity, slowing that time down.
Bogus Basin didn't let strangers ride the chairlift together, so there were fewer people on the chairlifts at a time.
People were able to space out on the mountain's backside, but there was still a pretty big crowd at Bogus Basin.