Lake Tahoe cautious for surge of backcountry skier crowds during COVID-19 pandemic

ByAndrew Morris KGO logo
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
Lake Tahoe cautious for surge of backcountry skier crowds
Lake Tahoe officials are preparing for more tourists this winter, even as COVID-19 cases climb, according to With a likely surge in backcountry skiers and snowboarders, hospitals are close to full ICU capacity in Truckee and South Lake Tahoe.

LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (KGO) -- Lake Tahoe has been a hotbed for tourists throughout the coronavirus pandemic, wanting to escape to its picturesque, outdoor beauty. Officials haven't seen any signs of that changing during the busy winter season.

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Although ski resorts have chosen to limit their capacity, outdoor recreation is still allowed under California's health guidelines. Ski shops have already seen an uptick in demand for backcountry recreation, according to

Officials have expressed concern that too many inexperienced newcomers will try skiing or snowboarding in the backcountry this winter, and have been warning travelers to stay safe. Everyone from non-profit organizations, professional skiers, tour groups, and government agencies have recommended plenty of preparation and advanced avalanche education classes, many of which are selling out.

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Lake Tahoe can ill-afford any spikes in hospital visits, if something were to go wrong on the untested slopes. Barton Memorial Hospital in South Lake Tahoe has just nine ICU beds, while Tahoe Forest Hospital in Truckee was at 80% capacity last week.

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