Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Foot of Fresh Snow in France, 2 Feet in Australia, As Both Open For Summer

Skiinfo reports that there’s been fresh snow in the Alps, Scandinavia and the southern hemisphere in the past week, where most resorts in Australia and New Zealand are now open.
The snow slopes of France are also open again after a month of closure. Les 2 Alpes is the first of the country’s three summer ski areas to open and the resort reported a 30cm (12 inch) fall of fresh snow a few days before it opened last Saturday (June 13). Snow depth at the 3200m high glacier at 180cm (six feet) and there are about a dozen runs open as well as the world class terrain park and half pipe. Tignes is due to open this weekend and Val d’isere the weekend after with all three areas scheduled to stay open until the last week of July, conditions permitting.
Austria continues to have the most ski areas to choose from of any country in the northern hemisphere with four glacier ski centres open following the end of the long season of the Stubai glacier last weekend. A fifth centre, the Molltal Glacier, will open this weekend on Saturday 20th. The Kaunertal glacier has reported 8cm (over three inches) of fresh snow in the past week, taking base depths up to a metre (40 inches), and there’s one lift running there serving a terrain park. The Kitzsteinhorn glacier above Kaprun has re-opened after a short closure period and is expecting fresh snow at the weekend. It it is currently open right down to the Alpincentre with a big snowbase depth difference from over three metres (10 feet) at the top down to 37cm (15 inches) at the base of the ski slopes. Tux continues to have the largest ski area open in the country with a 325cm (11 foot) base and 23km (14 miles) served by 7 lifts with a 690m vertical. The Dachstein glacier currently has a 50cm (20 inch) snow base and two lifts open serving limited skiing and a beginner’s terrain park.
Italy has three ski areas open following the reopening of Val Senales last weekend. Snow depths vary between 120 and 200cm (4-7 feet) on the glacier. Val Senales follows Passo Stelvio, which re-opened at the start of June. The Presana glacier above Passo Tonale remains open, as it has been since last autumn – boasting some of the deepest snow in the world at up to six metres (20 feet) throughout last winter. That snow base is thawing now but remains substantial and there are two red and one black run on it to enjoy.
In Switzerland only Zermatt is currently open, and it has switched to running the highest lifts in Europe, at up to 3899m altitude on the Glacier Mountain Paradise. Long red and blue runs are open right down to Trockner Steg with new plus temperatures IDE snowmaking system providing a summer snow connection guarantee at the bottom of the area. Zermatt’s lift-served summer ski vertical remains greater that that available at the largest southern hemisphere resorts.
In Scandinavia three glacier ski centres are open and one of these, Stryn, has reported 2cm (nearly an inch) of fresh snow in the past 48 hours, topping up its two metre (nearly seven foot) base. Folgefonn is reporting the deepest snow base anywhere at present with a 450cm (15 foot) accumulation to slide on. Galdhoppigen, the third option, has a 150cm (five foot) base.
With Whistler Blackcomb currently closed and Mammoth, the last ‘regular’ ski resort without summer skiing in North America, finally calling it a day on its long, long 2008-9 season on Sunday (June 14) only the near-year-round ski centre at Timberline is providing lift-served skiing this week. Conditions at the historic Oregon ski area are looking good with a 251cm (over 8 feet) base ) served by two chairlifts. Summer skiing at the top of Blackcomb Mountain’s Horstman Glacier is due to open to the public from this Saturday, June 20, through to the end of July (dependent upon weather). It is accessed via the Wizard Express Chair at the Blackcomb Base. This summer there will be double the terrain park features over previous years and a Superpipe. Summer glacier camps bring in professional athletes to coach aspiring skiers and riders, and attract ski and snowboard magazines and professional film crews from around the world.
In South America the ski slopes or Argentina and Chile are due to begin opening at the weekend, although warm weather and rain may delay the first ski runs opening (Some centres that were due to open last weekend are yet to do so).
Across the Atlantic in South Africa the ski season is in to its second week at Tiffindell however, with a 175m (600 feet) long ski run in action and a snow base of 60cm (two feet). In Neighbouring Lesotho however, the Afri-ski centre has decided against opening for the 2009 season so far, the centre released a statement saying, "Due to unusually high temperatures and insufficient natural snowfall over the past few days Afri-ski has made the difficult decision to delay opening in order to protect the snow for the remainder of the season".
Further south, several of Australia’s ski areas opened with little or no snow on June 5th/6th, but that has all changed in the past week with snow falling at most centres, leading to excellent early –season conditions. Perisher opened its Mt Perisher ski slopes last week reporting conditions for this early in the season, "the best in a decade". The resort had received 58cm (almost two feet) of fresh snow since Sunday 7 June and thanks also to Perisher’s $19 million snowmaking expansion, Saturday 13 June saw Towers Run on Mt Perisher open for skiing and boarding. Ten lifts are currently operating across Perisher Valley and Smiggin Holes and the PlayStation Slopestyle course on Front Valley now contains a 20-foot table top in addition to other impressive features. "There is a nice light, dry cover of snow on the slopes and with more snow expected over the coming days, lowering to 1500m", said a resort spokesperson (Perisher village sits at 1720m). At a second Australian resort, Mt Buller, the Skyline terrain park and half pipe open for the first time this season at the weekend. "With half a metre of natural snow depth and 58cm in our extensive man made areas, conditions are excellent for hitting the slopes today", said a spokesperson for the resort. "This kind of weather; sunny skies, light wind, a balmy 3 degrees, calls for a long lunch on a deckchair at one of our mountain restaurants before heading back out to the slopes". At Mt Hotham six lifts are open and snowmaking continues, "What a great first week of the season we have had with over 38cm of natural snowfall at Hotham blanketing the resort in white flakes. Cold temperatures have provided perfect conditions for snowmaking with our snowguns firing up most days including an epic 66 hour straight run". Along with some natural snowfall last week, the ability to open the Village Loop can be greatly attributed to Hotham's Snowmaking team who have pumped out 43,943 cubic metres (4394 truckloads) of snow over the last four days.
Conditions continue to be good at New Zealand where early opening at some areas means some areas are already in to their second or third weeks of the 2009 season. The latest resort to join them, The Remarkables (picture attached), will open this Saturday (20 June), and the pre-season snow means all lifts and the terrain parks will be open for season kick off. The ski area received 10cm (four inches) more fresh snow yesterday (Tuesday 16 June) and is enjoying a solid average base of 75cm (2.5 feet). More snow is forecast for later today (Wednesday 17 June) which bodes well for an awesome opening on Saturday, according to Ross Lawrence, Ski Area Manager. "We’re excited to announce that our main terrain parks, the Dirty Dog Terrain Park and Tararua Iced Coffee Beginner Park, will be open from Saturday as a result of great pre-season conditions", said Mr Lawrence. "Our terrain park crew have been having some fun over the last couple of weeks completing the set up of the parks at The Remarks (...) We’re pretty stoked to be able to open Shadow Basin on day one with plenty of snow, and also the Homeward Run and shuttle service", he said.