Weekly world snow report: Ski areas transitioning between winter seasons

Posted By: The Ski Channel on September 9, 2010 4:22 pm

Heavy snowfall on Austria’s Solden glacier will allow it top open for the 2010-11 ski season on Friday, September 10, several weeks ahead of schedule. The Austrian ski resort will operate the “Schwarze Schneidbahn” and “Kaleskogl” lifts on the resort’s Rettenbach glacier.

It’s a mixed picture elsewhere in Austria, however. Tux is still open, as it invariably is, with one of the largest ski areas available anywhere at present, complete with more than 90cm of snow. The Molltal glacier likewise remains open with a 1.3m base and 9.5km of runs. On the Kitzsteinhorn above Kapun temperatures are up above freezing again, however so is the snow depth – now 75cm, more than 60cm/two feet greater than when the slopes were “temporarily closed” due to lack of snow last month. They remain temporarily closed, as does the Dachstein glacier, which looks to be in a slightly sorrier state with only 20cm of snow left on the glacier which it describes as “wet.”

Austria’s Hintertux glacier is one of the largest ski areas currently open for skiing world-wide. Photo by: Hintertux ski area

Things are looking better at not-yet-open Austrian ski areas like the Stubai which is also reporting fresh snow. The Pitztal glacier, with Austria’s highest slopes, is scheduled to open a week from today for their long season through to May 2011.

Elsewhere in the Alps there’s rather less happening. The two French ski areas that were still open, Les 2 Alpes and Tignes, have now closed their glaciers, but in Tignes’ case only for three weeks. It will be one of the first resorts in the world to open for “Winter” 2010-11 later this month.

The Italian choice is down to two – Val Senales and Passo Stelvio – after this weekend when Cervinia is due to finish its summer skiing season.

The only other outdoor European snow sport to be had at present is in Switzerland where Saas Fee and Zermatt are open, weather permitting, each with over a meter of snow on their slopes and terrain parks. The Diavolezza glacier near St. Moritz has just announced it will open for the season on Oct. 16.

There are currently no ski slopes open in North America – which only happens for a few weeks each year. Timberline ski area on Mt. Hood in Oregon, the only area open through the summer on the continent, is currently closed for annual maintenance.

In the southern hemisphere many resorts are reporting conditions as more spring-like. In Africa that means the season is over at Lesotho but there’s been more fresh snow in South America.

In Las Lenas, at the southern end of Argentina, cover remains fairly moderate with 75cm (2.5 feet) on upper slopes. Chapelco is looking the better bet with 215cm (over seven feet) of snow on upper slopes and Catedral, the continent’s biggest resort, the best in the whole southern hemisphere with a 3.2-meter (nearly 11-foot) base on upper slopes, which should see it stay open well in to the autumn.

In Chile, Portillo’s season rumbles on with another inch in the past week topping the 45-67cm base where conditions are described as “spring-like.” Elsewhere in Chile, there’s been no new snow at Valle Nevado, which has a 40cm (16 inch) base and hasn’t quite reached a 4m season to date with total accumulation at 397cm. Chapa Verde has decided to call it a day for winter 2010 and will reopen in June 2011.

Most of the resorts in Australia are reporting rapidly changing conditions with beautiful clear spring days and blue skies one moment, then less welcome wind and rain the next.

The weather mix has continued following pummeling rain at Mt. Hotham, and at Mt. Buller it’s a similar story, where the resort has 93cm (over three feet) of snow in its base and 18 lifts running.

“Spring really has arrived on the mountain, with a mixed bag of weather hitting the resort this week,” says Buller’s spokesperson. “After yesterday’s beautiful bluebird conditions, today we’re expecting cloudy skies, moderate to moderate/strong winds and a top temperature of 3 degrees. A strong front crossing the Alps is also expected to bring rain at times, with the chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening. Looking ahead, we’re expecting showers and rain tomorrow, falling as snow at times until the late afternoon. These wetter conditions are then expected to change to snow by the weekend, with snow showers forecast for Saturday and Sunday.”

It’s a similar picture over in post-earthquake New Zealand with both areas on Mt. Ruapehu (Turoa and Whakapapa) reporting changeable weather and spring snow conditions.

“Last Thursday the Mountain received 25cm of fresh snow from the West. This was then topped up by more cold wet snow from south-easterly winds on Friday night. On Saturday morning locals awoke to a picture perfect postcard view of snow covered lawns, with Ohakune and National Park covered in snow. Then there was heavy rain at the start of the week but both ski areas have good cover top to bottom,” said a Ruapehu spokesperson.

There has been new snow at most resorts. The Remarkables got 15cm (six inches) last Friday and has a 110cm base with temperatures still below freezing. Mt. Hutt still has just over two meters of snow (seven feet) lying and got another 10cm on Saturday, at Treble cones there’s up to 180cm (six feet) lying so it looks like the new Zealand ski season still has a good way to run.


Report courtesy of Patrick Thorne, Content Editor, Skiinfo UK