Skiinfo reports that Europe’s summer glacier ski season continues to improve with two more centres open and up to 18cm (Seven inches) of fresh snow reported on the still-open slopes of Austria. South of the equator still more ski areas have been opening to great conditions in New Zealand and more snow is forecast for Australia.
In France Tignes is the second resort to open for summer skiing after Les 2 Alpes a week ago. To celebrate the resort staged a bikini ski event on Saturday in which a small number of enthusiasts took to the snow slopes clad only in swimwear and ski boots. Ski gloves, eye protection and sun cream were also allowed in this ‘competition'. The lifts opened at 7.15am on Saturday, June 20, heralding the start of the summer ski season which is staged on 20km of piste on the Grande Motte glacier between 3,000 and 3,500m above sea level. The ski area will be open for the next 10 weeks through to 30th August from 7.15am to 1pm daily. The Perce-Neige underground funicular lifts skiers to the glacier in only seven minutes where a dozen ski lifts are operational. A one day ski ticket costs 31 Euros for an adult, 25 Euros for a child.
Austria continues to offer the widest choice of glacier skiing in Europe with four centres operational.
The Mölltaler Glacier re-opened on Saturday with about 9km (six miles) of pistes open every day from 8am to 4pm. Temperatures are typically a few degrees below zero and the glacier snow base depth 330cm with 10-cm (four inches) of fresh snow reported in the past few days.
The Kitzsteinhorn Glacier above Kaprun has reported 18cm (7 inches) of fresh snow. Seven lifts are operational with a 365cm (12 foot) base on the glacier. The Kitzsteinhorn’s Ice arena will open this Friday, June 26th. Facilities include snow slides served by a magic carpet conveyor lift, a ‘PistenBully’ snow grooming vehicle for children to play on and a snow beach with Ice bar, a panorama terrace at the summit station and a 362m long panorama tunnel straight through the Kitzsteinhorn. In addition the Panorama terrace Glocknerkanzel provides a view of the Großglockner, Austria’s highest mountain. There is also a secured glacier path across the eternal ice and a daily free guided panorama hike across the glacier on offer. The Hintertux glacier continues to have the largest ski area open with 23km (14 miles) of piste served by weight lifts and a 225cm (9 foot) base. The Dachstein Glacier also has a small ski area open.
Elsewhere in Europe three glacier ski areas remain open in Norway, with deep snow bases at each, Italy also has three glacier ski areas to choose from and in Switzerland Europe’s highest ski lifts and the world’s biggest lift-served summer vertical remain in operation at year-round ski area, Zermatt.
Across the Atlantic in North America, after a brief hiatus Whistler Blackcomb is back in snow business with the opening of the Horstman Glacier on Blackcomb Mountain on Saturday, June 20 for summer skiing and snowboarding. It joins Timberline in Oregon, south of the border,
Professional skiers and snowboarders from around the world made their way to Whistler Blackcomb for their annual summer snow sesh. Everyone from Olympic Gold medalist Jennifer Heil to TransWorld SNOWboarding's Reader's Choice snowboarder of the year and Red Bull athlete Marie France Roy will be there seshing some of the best snow features in the Northern Hemisphere.
In South America there’s been very heavy snow in recent days with Argentina’s Las Lenas resort reporting 120cm (four feet) of snow accumulated at the base and 260cm (nearly nine feet) at the top of the mountain, it expects to open shortly. Caviahue opened today (June 24) with snow depths of 20 to 80cm (10 – 32 inches). Other Argentinian ski areas are reporting snow but are not yet open, for example Los Penitentes reports a 20cm (eight inch) base. Chapelco has between 2cm (an inch) on lower slopes and 50cm (20 inches) on upper runs and temperatures hovering a few degrees below zero. Catedral also has a good covering of fresh snow. In Chile, Portillo reports its slopes are 65% open having received over 140cm (five feet) of snow already this season. More than half of that has fallen in the past week and conditions are described as “packed powder”. Valle Nevad0 opened on Monday (22nd June) reporting a metre (3.3 feet) of snow falling n the previous 72 hours. Chapa Verde reports 30cm (a foot) of snow but that it’s waiting for more before it opens.
Back across the Atlantic, the southern half this time, South Africa’s Tiffindell and Lesotho’s Afriski have had a dusting of fr4esh snow, but Tiffindell is the only one of the two that’s open, with a 175m long snow run and 60cm of mostly machine made snow.
In Australia there’s hope of more fresh snow later today and during the rest of the week. 16 lifts are expected to be in operation across Perisher and Blue Cow tomorrow with snow depths of up to 48cm (19 inches). The Australian Weather Bureau has forecast snow to fall above 1500m tomorrow, which is great news given Perisher village sits at 1720m. Mt Buller has nine lifts open with good cover on firm packed snow across the open runs. There’s a natural snow base of 33cm (13 inches), and an average of 47cm (17 inches) in the snowmaking areas.
New Zealand continues to have a great early season, already four weeks old for some areas there but others are still opening. Bright sunshine, excellent snow cover and all lifts operating made for a beautiful day in the mountains at The Remarkables ski area near Queenstown in New Zealand for the start of their 2009 winter season on Saturday. It was all smiles at the alpine resort as people drove up through the low cloud over Queenstown to discover the mountains bathed in sunshine. Early birds were welcomed with a glass of Lindauer bubbles to celebrate the occasion while mascots Spike and Shred entertained the young and not-so- young. Ski Area Manager Ross Lawrence said the opening was the best in years. "It was an awesome day. Just one of those beautiful days with excellent snow and everything running the way it should be. There was a laid back atmosphere with music on the deck, kids with their faces painted and people really enjoying the day. We were able to open all lifts including the shuttle for Homeward Run, which we thought was a pretty good effort for opening day". The Dirty Dog Terrain Park and Tararua Ice Coffee Mini Park were also open with a full range of features on offer. "The feedback on snow cover, quality and terrain available has been awesome", said Mr Lawrence. "It was also great to see people using the FReemarkables bus service. The bus drivers reported strong numbers and the feedback is that people are finding the service easy and stress free", both in New Zealand. Cardrona Alpine Resort is next on the list to kick off its 2009 season this Friday (26 June) welcoming skiers and boarders to enjoy what they are reporting to be the best opening snow conditions in over a decade, the resort will open all facilities and 100% of their extensively groomed trails. "We’re expecting a good turn out from locals and visitors raring to get their first turns and jumps in for the season", said Nadia Ellis Cardrona sales and marketing manager. "A lot of work has gone into ensuring conditions are at their best and the mountain looks great with top to bottom pristine snow coverage". For the 2009 season Cardrona has made many improvements including expansion of the terrain with a new trail down Arcadia Basin for more advanced skiers and boarders. The 22-foot half pipe has been primed for visitors and ready to host major events this season including the Burton New Zealand Open, NZ Freeski Open and Winter Games NZ. Meanwhile excitement is snowballing at Coronet Peak as the ski area gears up for the 35th Queenstown Winter Festival which opens this Friday, June 26. As the festival’s mountain home, Coronet Peak will host a range of events with mountain bikes and dogs joining the skiers and riders on the snow. Ski Area Manager Hamish McCrostie said mountain staff were looking forward to winter festival’s opening party. "We’ve had such a great start to the season so far and we’re really looking forward to hosting a fantastic line up of festival events", he said. "Skiers and riders are enjoying superb conditions and we’re in great shape to welcome the community and our visitors for fun, social and sporting events". Coronet Peak’s festival celebrations get underway with the Browns Mountain Bikes on Snow event on Saturday, followed by a breakfast like no other on Monday. Night Skiing for the 09 winter season kicks off on Friday July 3 as part of the mountain party that is the Grabaseat Mountain Mayhem and skiing and riding under lights will also be on offer on Saturday July 4. The epic Queenstown Winter Festival Rail Jam (July 5) will see Queenstown’s hottest snowboarders and skiers performing top tricks under the watchful eyes of a buzzing crowd and stoked up by top DJs. The party doesn’t stop there because the rail jam turns into the Festival Closing Party, where an adrenalin-pumping aerobatics and parapenting display will close the festival in style. "The festival is a long running celebration of the start of winter for us and a time when we welcome skiers and non skiers alike to the mountain to enjoy the lighter side of winter", said Mr McCrostie.