Spectacular early snow in the Pyrenees has broken a three year-cycle of a slow start in the region. Resorts on the southern European range have opened early, or are about to. Spain was first off the mark with Baqueria Beret (Photo: Baqueira, Spain) and Formigal amongst 10 resorts now open. Andorra’s GrandValira and VallNord resorts will join them this weekend, both deciding to open a week ahead of schedule with upper base depths in excess of a metre of powder snow, and most with a foot of snow even at resort level.
In Switzerland the big opening this weekend will be Crans Montana, which top’s Skiinfo.com’s snow depth table with a remarkable 270cm (nine feet) of snow on upper slopes and even 170cm (nearly six feet) on lower slopes. It joins many other Swiss resorts already open and similarly bathed in deep powder including Engelberg, Lenzerheide, Saas Fee, St Moritz, Verbier and Zermatt.
French resorts mostly stick to a rigid opening schedule even when they have huge snowfalls and Tignes, the only resort open in the country for two months now, is reaping the benefits with another 10cm (four inches) falling at the end of last week topping up base depths to 155cm (five feet, two inches).
Austria’s glacier resorts, some of which have also already been open for months, are being joined by an increasing number of lower altitude ski areas. The Tux glacier near Mayrhofen in the Ziller Valley which has seen huge snowfalls in October and November, still has the most snow in the country with 135cm (four feet, six inches) of snow on upper slopes. Conditions are looking great across the country with heavy snow expected down to 200m and areas including the Zugspitzarena and pitztal Glacier both expecting up to a metre (three feet, four inches) of fresh powder later this week.
Italy’s Passo Tonale has the biggest base in Europe right now with 2.8m (nine feet, four inches) of snow. Alagna Valsesia and Gressoney in the Monterosa Region will open this weekend thanks to great snowfalls bringing depths up to 180cm (six feet) on upper slopes . Madonna di Campiglio will also open this weekend with 45 cm (18 inches) of snow on upper slopes. Elsewhere in the country Cervinia is also open, with it’s cross-border connection to Zermatt. Livigno opened early last weekend and is currently offering free skiing to anyone who visits this week.
Most of Finland, Norway and Sweden’s major ski areas are now open. In Norway Geilo and Hemsedal both have around 50cm (20 inches) of snow on upper slopes and received another five centimetres/two inches) to give a nice powder top up yesterday (Tuesday, November 18).
Around 25 Norwegian ski areas are expected to be open by Saturday and Skiinfo’s Norway manager Jens-Andreas Løland is predicting a huge powder boost for some this weekend, “We are expected loads of snow this weekend in the west of Norway - up to 70 cm (28 inches) according to our Snowfinder snow prediction service.”
In Canada, Alberta curerently has almost all of the country’s open terrain with all three ski areas at Banff open and Marmot Basin at Jasper making its earliest ever opening last weekend. On the East Coast the leading resort of Mont Tremblant in Quebec is scheduled to open at the weekend and on the West, the country’s most visited resort, Whistler, next week, with excitement building at the 2010 Winter Olympics to be partially staged there are now only a year away.
South of the border numerous ski areas are opening across the US ahead of the vital Thanksgiving Weekend. Despite the impact of the ‘credit cruch’ which has led most resorts to predict declining busine, the plummeting cost of fuel and promising early snowfall or temperatures cold enough for snowmaking has led many resorts to be more optimistic in recent weeks.
For more information visit http://www.skiinfo.com/ and sign up for powder alarms from your favourite resorts, check current snow conditions and projected snowfalls with snow finder as well as exchange news and views in the Skier’ Lounge. Skiinfo.com is the largest provider of ski resort snow reports across Europe, with snow information from more than 1,200 ski areas updated several times a day. Skiinfo.com is available in several languages including english, spanish, french, german, etc.