Saturday, April 18, 2009

Don’t Stop Skiing!: Thanks To Big Snow, The 08-09 Ski Season Continues In To May (and beyond) In A Dozen Countries...

Easter is over but you still want to keep skiing? Thanks to huge snowfalls and a big enough number of snow obsessed skiers to make it worth their while to keep the lifts running, there are plenty of places where you can stay on the snow for a month or two yet (by which time the southern hemisphere’s ski slopes will be open anyway).
While other snow sites are distinctly seasonal, the guys at Skiinfo remain snow obsessed year-round. Here’s the Skiinfo guide to where to ski and board for the next 4 – 8 weeks, and then some...
Andorra: After one of the snowiest winters for many years, with the big falls starting way back in November last year, Grandvalira has announced it will be open to May 3rd.
Austria: At least a dozen Austrian ski areas are open in to May, including St Christoph above St Anton and Ischgl, and half that number continue in to June and beyond. Skiinfo reports that the Kitzsteinhorn glacier above Kaprun currently has 3.7m (over 12 feet) of snow, the Pitztal Glacier (picture attached) 326cm (almost 13 feet).
Canada: In Alberta, Lake Louise is open to May 3rd and fellow Banff resort Sunshine nearby right through to May 20th. Whistler has the longest ski season in Canada with glacier skiing continuing through to July.
China: China’s Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (now the world’s highest following the demise of the former highest, the Chacaltaya glacier in Bolivia, due to global warming) offers skiing above 4500m, complete with altitude sickness pills and oxygen bags, until June.
France: In France five resorts are open in to May with Chamonix and Tignes lasting the longest – to the 10th. After a few weeks of closure, Val d’Isere and Les 2 Alpes join Tignes for summer skiing from June to August. Tignes has a 160cm (over five foot) base and Les 2 Alpes 190cm (over six feet) on upper slopes.
Italy: Italy has four Spring and Summer snow choices. Val Senales has 2.5m (over eight feet) of snow, it closes, live Cervinia, on 3rd May, but re-opens on June 13th. Passo Stelvio is currently closed but opens for summer skiing on May 30th through to August.
Japan: In Japan there are half a dozen ski areas open in to May. Gassan has the strangest ski season in all Japan running from April 1st to July 30th. A year round snow field atop a glacier it gets so much snow in the winter that nobody can reach it until April.
Norway: Norway’s three glacier ski areas of Folgefonn, Galdhøpiggen and Stryn begin opening next month and stay open right through the summer. The three are famed for their massive snow bases.
Spain: After peaking with a snow base of more than five metres (17 feet) in March, Spain’s Sierra Nevada, Europe’s most southerly major ski area, has announced its season will continue two weeks longer than planned, to mid-May. The snow’s still more than three metres (ten feet) deep on the higher slopes.
Sweden: Sweden’s famous Riksgranen ski area is open in to June and thanks to its location in the Arctic Circle, sees 24 hour daylight with skiing under the midnight sun from late May.
Switzerland: Zermatt is one of the few resorts that can offer skiing all year round, thanks to operating the highest lifts and runs in Europe, touching 3,800m high. It will be re-joined on 13th June by neighbour Saas Fee which closes on May 3rd but once re-opened in June, stays open top May 2010. Half a dozen other Swiss resorts are open in to May including Engelberg to the middle of the month and the St Moritz Engadin region to the end of May.
USA: Many US resorts have now closed, despite having huge snow bases in some cases, as the delicate balance between the number of income generating customers and the costs of maintaining high service standards make perpetuating the ski season non-viable. However a number of resorts expect to offer skiing well in to May, and possibly beyond, as in previous years. Options include Squaw Valley and Mammoth Mountain in California, Mt Bachelor in Oregon and snowbird in Utah. Timberline in Oregon endeavours to stay open almost year round with skiing on the Palmer Glacier.