Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fresh Snow In The Alps, Africa, And a White Christmas in Australia

Skiinfo reports that fresh snow in the Alps at the end of last week boosted snow depths at the continent’s open summer ski glaciers. Tignes in France and Val Senales in Italy reported the biggest falls with 15cm (six inches) of fresh powder each. At Tignes this temporarily boosted the snow depth to 195cm (6.5 feet). Another Italian ski area, Cervinia reported 7cm (three inches) of new snow and just over the border Zermatt, which shares this world’s only cross-border summer ski area, reported 5cm of new snow. It is currently reporting, marginally, the greatest snow depth in the world at present with 422cm (nearly 14 feet) of snow on the glacier; 12cm/four inches than Austria’s Molltal glacier in second place.
Elsewhere in France, Val d’Isere closes for the summer ski season this Sunday, 26th July. Les 2 Alpes is reporting a snow depth of 50cm (20 inches) on the glacier with strong winds at present. Both it and Tgnes remain open for a another month, and even after that Tignes will re-open a few weeks in to September to begin its long 2009-10 season. A third choice for skiers in Italy is Passo Stelvio.
Saas Fee, had to cancel the big Saas Fee Ride event planned for last weekend as precipitation made it too difficult for the terrain features to be created to a high enough standard to suit the pros. As the organisers conceded however, the resulting 10cm (four inches) of fresh powder led to a great conditions for recreational skiers and boarders.
Austria has four glaciers open for summer skiing and boarding still. Besides the afore-mentioned Molltal glacier, Hintertux has one of the largest ski areas currently available with 23km (15 miles) of runs, a 600m vertical, nine lifts open and 195cm (6.5 feet) of snow lying.
At the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier above Kaprun seven lifts are open and there’s over 2.5m (8.5 feety of snow lying. The Dachstein Glacier also has a small ski area open.
Europe’s fifth summer skiing nation, Norway, still has three glacier ski centres open, each operation one or two long drag lift. Folgefonn has the third deepest snow deopt6h in the world at present with 4m (over 13 feet) of snow lying. Galhoppigen and Stryn are the other two choices.
Across the Atlantic in North America, it’s the end of Whistler’s long ski season this Sunday when the Blackcomb glacier shuts down for the summer. Excitement is of course mounting as when the resort re-opens in the autumn it will be just a few short months until the 2010 Winter Olympics kick off there. Timberline in Oregon, USA remains open however with skiing on the Palmer snowfield which has a terrain park and superpipe and is served by two lifts. Snow depths are just above 1.2m (4 feet).
Moving in to the southern hemisphere where it really is winter, heavy snow is currently falling in parts of South America, with virtually all ski areas expected to receive fresh snow in the coming days if they have not done so already. Portillo in Chile reports 30cm (a foot) of fresh snow in the past 24 hours taking season snowfall to date past 330cm (11 feet) and base depth on the mountain to 1.5m (5 feet). The access road to capital Santiago is currently closed by snow.
In Argentina the largest area Catedral is also receiving heavy snowfall at present, reporting a 10cm (four inch) accumulation in the past 12 hours.
Fresh snow in Africa has brought snow depths up to 60cm (Two feet) at Tiffindell and the ski run now extends to 1km, the longest this season to date. Afriski in Lesotho is also reports it has opened for their season.
Most of New Zealand’s ski areas are sitting on healthy bases of 1-2m (approximately 3- 7 feet) and most have reported moderate snowfalls of 5-10cm (2 – 4 inches) in the past week, topping up those snow packs with a nice dusting of powder. Like South America however, heavier snow is currently falling at several areas. Rainbow has reported 20cm (eight inches) of new snow overnight and Cardrona 10cm (four inches), other areas are expecting fresh snow on Thursday and Friday.
In Australia, Perisher, which currently has a snow depth of 112cm (Just under four feet), reports that it is currently (morning of Wednesday 22nd July) snowing heavily and 46 lifts are operational. At Mt Buller however it is blue skies, but the resort reports, "Cloud is expected to increase throughout the day with the chance of showers and snow during the afternoon. Snow is forecast to fall into tomorrow and the sun should come out on Friday. As we enter the weekend, it looks like more of the white stuff". With a 10cm (four inch) top up of fresh snow falling in the last week, Hotham now has 12 out of 13 lifts turning. The Gotcha chairlift opened last Wednesday, shortly followed by Keogh's and Orchard on Friday just in time for the weekend. These openings provided access to most of Hotham's signature black and double black diamond terrain including Spargo's run, as well as blue trails for intermediates in the Orchard area. More snow is forecast to fall above 1400m today and on Thursday. Of course Australian's love a traditional Christmas dinner, but the typical midsummer heat there on Christmas Day means that many families sit down to salad and cold beer on December 25th, rather than tucking into a sumptuous big feast or going skiing for that matter. Not to be denied a white winter with all the trimmings, Perisher has adopted the tradition of celebrating Christmas in July so the resort will be covered in Christmas decoration, streamers and bonbons this Saturday 25th July. Anyone visiting the snowy slopes this weekend is encouraged to join in with Perisher's staff members and dress up in anything Christmas related!