THE ALPS - The snow season is upon us as the first ski resorts to open for the 2011-12 ski season thanks to some fresh snow.
Glacier ski areas in the Alps have reported up to 30cm of fresh snow in the past 48 hours following on from falls on the highest peaks in Colorado reported at the end of last week.
The Stubai glacier has announced it will open tomorrow, September 21st, following recent falls. It has a 60cm (two foot) base and reports 50cm of that is ‘fresh’.
Pitztal in Austria begins its nine month long season this Saturday, 24 September, joining the half dozen ski areas in Austria (Molltal (80cm) and Tux (105cm)), Italy (Passo Stelvio and Val Senales (40cm)) and Switzerland (Saas Fee (59cm) and Zermatt (20cm)) which have been open since the summer and remain so.
Pitztal currently has a 51cm base and will also be unveiling its new Doppelmayr built eight passenger cabin gondola with heated seats on Austria’s highest glacier up to 3440m. As natural snowfall Pitztal benefits from an IDE snow making system, the only one designed to produce snow in positive temperatures when necessary. Only Pitztal and Zermatt have this machine installed.
Other Austrian resorts are expected to open or re-open shortly too, including the Dachstein, Solden, Kitzsteinhorn and Kaunertal glaciers. Tignes in France plans to open on October 1st and Swiss resorts including Engelberg and Glacier 3000 are expected to open early in October along with Cervinia in Italy.
In the USA Copper Mountain, which along with Breckenridge issued images of fresh snow on its peaks last week, has said it plans to begin snow making on 26th September. The near year-round US ski centre of Timberline in Oregon plans to re-open on 30th September.
The southern hemisphere’s season continues to wind down but is far from over at resorts like Ruapehu in New Zealand which is reported closed today due to blizzard conditions and another 10-15cm of snow falling. The Turoa ski area on Ruapehu currently has a 333cm (11 foot) base,believed to be the deepest snow in the world at present.
Australia’s great season is continuing too although temperatures are fluctuating between well above freezing to just below for spring-like conditions. Perisher still has a 1.13m (nearly four foot) natural snow base and reports a dusting of fresh snow today.
Most ski areas are still open in South America, with up to two metres of snow on upper slopes at the best of them (Catedral in Argentina).