Friday, July 10, 2009

Skiinfo Reports Fresh July Snow in the Alps and Southern Hemisphere

Skiinfo reports that the summer glacier ski areas of both Tignes in France and Saas Fee in Switzerland have received fresh snow in the past few days. Tignes received 5cm (two inches) of powder on Tuesday, July 7 taking upper slope depths to 180cm (six feet). Saas Fee, which has re-opened for snow sports, received the same amount of new snow on the same day, and is reporting snow depth on the glacier at three metres (ten feet).
In Austria the Kitzsteinhorn glacier above Kaprun has reported 4cm (two inches) of new snow in the past 24 hours, it has a three metre (ten foot) base and temperatures are around -2C at the summit. The Molltal glacier is also open for skiing near Flattach with 9km (six miles) of runs served by three lifts which operate between 9 and 4pm – later in the day than most alpine glacier ski areas. It has a 330cm (11 foot) snow base but hasn’t reported any fresh powder. A small ski area on the Dachstein glacier near Schladming is a third Austrian option. The Tux glacier, which along with Zermatt is one of two in the world that is still open virtually 365 days a year (subject to weather conditions and maintenance closures), currently has one of the biggest ski areas open anywhere with 23km (nearly 15 miles) of slopes swerved by nine lifts, accessing a near 600m vertical between 2660m and 3250m – not bad for July!
Italy is down to three summer ski centres open, following the closure of the presena Glacier aabove Passo Tonale at the end of its long 2008-9 season last week. Cervinia, lift-linked to Zermatt’s ‘largest ski area in Europe’ offers the biggest ski area on a 150cm (five foot) base. Val Senales also has a sizable summer ski area in operation with most of the 20km (13 miles) of piste open and the majority of the resort’s 10 lifts operational. It was blessed with another 10cm (four inches) of snow earlier this week. Passo Stelvio is the third choice.
In France Les 2 Alpes, Tignes and Val d’Isere’s glaciers all open under sunny skies with each reporting a 180cm (six foot) base.
Over the border in Switzerland, Zermatt is also in full swing on Europe’s highest ski slopes with the biggest lift-served vertical available anywhere in the world in July fully ski or boardable. The Stoked Ski and Snowboard school is currently offering summer freestyle camps in the resort’s Gravity Park with coaches and professional riders offering advice on improving skills and technique riding the pipe, various kickers, rails and obstacles. The perfectly shaped Gravity Park has its own park lift and Summer Camps Packages are available with inclusive accommodation, breakfast and dinner, ski pass, coaching and the latest boards and skis for testing. Engelberg isn’t open for skiing or boarding but it will again stage its annual Ice Festival on Mount Titlis. On 12 July the start of a summer snow and ice sports season on the glacier kicks off. This incorporates multiple fun activities, although no longer summer skiing or boarding.
Facilities at the top of Mount Titlis include an ice grotto, for example, where visitors can explore the glittery world of ice enhanced by light and sound effects. Those who are more adventuresome can go trekking over the glacier or try abseiling in a glacial crevice. The Snow Fun Park offers toboganning and snow tubing all year round for both the young and young at heart.
In Norway, Folgefonn currently has the biggest lift-served snow base on earth with five metres (17 feet) accumulated. However the terrain park at Galdhøpiggen, situated in spectacular surroundings on a glacier 2200 meters above sea level, at the foot of Northern Europe’s highest mountain is where the 5th Annual Quiksilver snowcamp is currently underway. It’s reportedly where more and more girls have headed this week, opting to replace the bikini with ski- and snowboard clothes this summer and head for the camp instead. Roxy teamrider and one of Norway’s leading snowboard talents, Silje Norendal (15) went to her first summer camp last year and found the combination of snow and summer temperatures extremely attractive; "The opportunity to go snowboarding in a T-shirt during the day and go swimming, skateboarding or rafting in the evening is truly unique", she said. However, you certainly don’t need to be a pro to enjoy yourself at the camp. The park is specifically designed to cater for riders of all ages and skill levels. The kicker tables range from two to 16 meters in length and are divided into three different kickerlines. There’s also a separate rail-combo-line which at any time consists of approximately 10 rails, but as the camp has more than 20 rails on hand this line will be constantly changing during the course of each camp in order to provide the riders with endless amounts of creative freedom. The glacier skiing at Stryn is a third option in Norway.
In North America the glacier ski area on Blackcomb Mountain at Whistler, Canada is open, as is the summer ski area at Timberline on Mt Hood in Oregon, USA. There the new terrain park in the Magic Mile Canyon is open for the summer. Summer camps incorporating indoor training and outdoor snow are also on-going at Copper Mountain, Colorado.
In the southern hemisphere there’s been more snow in many resorts in the region’s five ski nations.
South Africa’s Tiffindell ski area has seen the base thin to 30cm (a foot) but is offering longer ski runs, now up to 750m in length.
In South America snow conditions are good at many resorts in Argentina and Chile. Tour operator Crystal have announced a special deal at Portillo (picture attached) in Chile this summer. Families were up to two children under 12 ski, eat and sleep for free for departures in August and a nine day, full board stay including Heathrow departure on August 21st with transfers to Portillo Grand Hotel’s Octogen Lodge including 7 day lift pass include, day care for children aged 3-7 years, free use of pool, Jacuzzi, fitness centre, games room with aerobics and gym classes and two nights in Santiago at the four star Atton El Bosque Hotel costs £2,339 per person (adults) and £1,429 (children).
In Australia the Heavenly Valley chair started turning for the first time this season last Saturday after over half a metre (20 inches) of snow dumped on Hotham in Australia in a 48 hour period. Keen skiers and boarders heading out for first tracks on Hotham's signature terrain and what is arguably some of Australia's best black diamond terrain. The lift will open everyday and for first tracks at 7.30am from Wednesdays to Sundays all season long (snow and weather permitting).
Many of New Zealand’s resorts got a good amount of new snow early in the week. This took the base to 134cm (4.5 feet) at Turoa and 91cm (3 feet) at Whakapapa for example.
Snow Park NZ was the latest resort to open, last Saturday 4 July, with good fresh snow coverage across the terrain park and new features introduced. Night skiing and riding sessions kicked off twice weekly, on Tuesday (7 July). Mt Hutt reported receiving 50cm (20 inches) of new snow at the start of the week and 74cm (2.5 feet) in the last week and is now boasting a good base of 150cm (five feet) with more snow forecast for the next couple of days. "Everyone was beaming ear-to-ear today as they skied knee-deep powder", said Dave Wilson, Ski Area Manager. "Awesome snow falling with little winds has created near-on perfect conditions at Mt Hutt for the school holidays".