Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fresh Snow On Four Continents

Skiinfo reports that snow has been falling on almost every continent on earth over the past week.
In France the big news was the re-opening of the Grand Motte glacier at Tignes on Saturday, which is now due to stay open through to mid-May next year. There’s currently nearly 500m of skiable vertical open between 3000 and 3456m high with the slopes open open from 8.30am to 5.30pm and reached in 7 minutes by the resort’s underground funicular. A one day adult pass is €32, children from 5 to 13 years old pay €26. There’s 20cm (eight inches) of snow on the glacier.
In Switzerland it’s still a choice between Saas Fee and neighbouring Zermatt’s glacier slopes, with Engelberg, Diablerets and st Moritz glaciers due to open in the next few weeks.
Italy still has skiing at Passo Stelvio and Val Senales with Cervinia due to re-open for weekends from 10th October and full time from 1st November.
Austria continues to have the biggest choice of glacier ski areas open anywhere. With 6 centres open. The choice includes the Hintertux glacier (15km/9 miles of runs, 55cm/2 feet of snow, 9 lifts); the Stubai glacier near Innsbruck (5 lifts, 2 slopes, 10cm/4 inches of snow); Pitztal (3 lifts operating); the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier above Ksapruin has 26cm (10 inches) of snow and 7 lifts operating; the Miolltal glacier with 6km (4 miles) of runs to enjoy, and Solden where the "Schwarze Schneid" gondola and "Karleskogl" t-bar lift are in daily operation from 9am 1pm and the skiable terrain ending in the middle. As there are only two ski lifts in operation with three runs (total length 3km) and 6cm (3 inches) of snow, discounted ski passes are available.
The Kaunertal glacier currently has 7cm (3 inches) of snow and reports it will open as soon as there’s enough new snow and/or cold weather for snow making and the Dachstein glacier is currently closed.
Elsewhere in Europe, Are in Sweden and Hemsedal (picture attached) in Norway have both reported fresh snowfalls. Norway’s Bjorli was one of the best reporting 20cm (eight inches) of new snow yesterday.
Across the Atlantic it has been skiing in North America too, although unfortunately Timeberline ski area on Mt Hood in Oregon has been unable to re-open as planned last weekend due to a lack of snow.
Fresh snow was reported to be falling on the resort’s Palmer snowfield yesterday (September 29th) but not enough yet to re-open. "Pray for more snow", the area urges its fans.
With the ‘100 days to go’ mark to the Vancouver Olympics imminent however, excitement at Whistler has raised yet another notch with new snow on the mountains there. "Overnight Whistler Blackcomb received a dusting of the white stuff and there is more snow on the way with sub zero temperatures in the alpine over the next few days", Ryan Proctor told Skiinfo UK, noting snowfall predictions of up to 27cm (11 inches) by Saturday.
In South America there’s been fresh snow in Chile. Portillo has recorded 3cm (an inch) more in the past few days and still has over 1.8m (6 feet) lying on upper slopes but is scheduled to close at the weekend. There were bigger falls for the 3 Valley resorts nearer to capital Santiago.
There was also new snow at most of the major Argentinian ski areas, with Las Leñas still claiming the greatest snow deopths of 2.3m (nearly 8 feet) on upper slopes.
In Australia up to 58cm (nearly 2 feet) of new snow falling on the Victorian Alps was a bit galling for resorts that were already closing, but others decided to extend the season for another week. Mt Buller and Falls Creek resorts decided to extending their seasons due to the new snow but Hotham decided to close as scheduled last weekend, despite receiving 51cm (21 inches) of new snow over three days. Hotham reports it had a total of 317cm (10.5 feet) of snow between 6 June and 27 September, staged 60 events including international ski races, the Hotham Snowsports School taught more than 50,000 people in lessons. Mt Buller currently has a snow depth of 58cm with four lifts open. Bourke St and Baldy runs are currently recommended for beginners, Little Buller Spur and Wombat for the intermediates and the Wombat bowl is better than it has ever been this season for bumps and tree lined runs. Lift tickets are half price. In New South Wales, Australia’s biggest resort, Perisher, also plans to close this weekend after receiving a further 36cm (13 inches) of snow since last Saturday, 26th September. Perisher had a total of 321cm (10.6 feet) of snow fall between 6 June and 28 September. Perisher’s three-year $19 million energy efficient snowmaking expansion culminated in 2009 enabling the iconic Towers Run on Mt Perisher to open in the first week of the season on a great top to bottom cover.
There’s been fresh snow in New Zealand as the season has begun to wind down there. There’s currently good end-of-season conditions following snow top-ups this week, with spring skiing and riding conditions. Of the three areras operated by NZSki Ltd, Coronet Peak ski area is due to close this Sunday on October 4, with The Remarkables following a week later on October 11, and Mt Hutt on October 18. James Coddington, NZSki Ltd CEO, said it has been a fantastic season. "We started with the best openings in over a decade and since then a phenomenal number of people have visited our slopes. Mt Hutt opened two weeks early and both Coronet Peak and The Remarkables started the season with record snowfalls. It’s been a massive season and has shown us that recession means nothing to skiers and snowboarders when conditions are prime", he said. "We’ve seen some of the world’s top skiers and riders passing through our ski areas, not only for the 100% Pure NZ Winter Games but also for international race training as well as various events held at our ski areas. The world’s top competitors are happy to journey to our mountains for their off-season training. They know the facilities are world-class and they can rely on our experienced and willing Race & Events departments to supply what they need".
The ski season is expected to continue for longer still at Mt Ruapehu where the mountain’s twin ski areas of Whakapapa and Turoa received another 10cm (four inches) of new snow in the past 24 hours, topping up bases of 1.5 – 2.3m (5-7.5 feet) respectively. Monday October 26th is Labour Day in NZ and is the last day of the season for Whakapapa the resort’s Mike Smith told Skiinfo. "However we are looking at keeping Turoa open into 'Snovember' again for another 2 – 3 weeks. We can fly (via chopper) a section of our Sun Kid carpet lift up a bit higher to keep some beginner facilities operating as well".
Over 150 (around a third male) competitors took part in yesterdays Rip Curl and K2 Bikini Downhill held simultaneously at Whakapapa and Turoa at the weekend. This is the fourth year the event has been run and the first time at both Ski Areas. All proceeds from event entry fees and spectator donations go to the Breast Cancer Foundation and just on $3000 was raised.
Whakapapa definitely had the better conditions with blue skies and warm spring temperatures while a cool southerly and passing clouds meant Turoa competitors had to trust to the thermal insulatory properties of their swimwear.