Northwestern Ontario has received snow much earlier this winter, which has allowed ski hills in the region to open ahead of schedule, including the Dryden Ski Club.

The early dump of snow allowed the Ski Club to open its doors in mid-December, which is earlier than expected.

“This year we’ve actually been really fortunate that the snow came.” Dryden Ski Club President, Julie Edwards said. “We rely completely on natural snow we don’t have any snow-making equipment so we very much love to do a snow dance to ensure the snow comes downs early, and we were lucky this year.”

The Ski Club has been able to remain open though Ontario is currently in a Modified Step Two, which has limited outdoor gathering limits and closed indoor dining until at least January 26, 2022.

“It's kind of a little bit of business as usual as far as our outdoor activities go, the main difference is that we can’t have indoor dining. We’re ensuring people are wearing their masks more, and their social distancing.”

More outdoor fires have been added by the club to allow skiers to keep warm, as well as having patrons use their vehicles as their home base.

The ski club is mostly run by volunteers with some paid employees, and Edwards said that through the pandemic she has seen an increase in staff.

“We have had to increase the number of people with just checking [vaccine] passports. We ended up getting busier with COVID with cross-country skiing. With the influx of more people, we’ve also hired more staff.”

Edwards mentioned there is a lot that is offered at the Dryden Ski Club for people who haven't ventured to the hill.

“Our hills are progressive in the sense that we have our easier hills, and then work our way to more difficult trick terrain parks, and then our black diamond run.”

The club also offers instructable lessons for skiing and snowboarding, as well a program has been started for those aged six and under can ski and rent equipment for free on Wednesday nights.

For cross-country ski enthusiasts the club offers 20 kilometres of trails, along with many other programs.

More information on the Ski Club can be found on their website.