Thursday, October 29, 2009

Heavy Snow in North America, More In The Alps, 30+ Resorts Now Open

Skiinfo is reporting heavy snow in western Canada and a week of fresh snowfalls in many northern hemisphere ski areas including Colorado, parts of the Alps and Japan.
With Kitzbuhel’s earliest ever opening at the weekend, following the Planai above Schladming the week before that, as well as seven glaciers areas to choose from, Austria continues to offer the biggest choice of skiing in the Alps. The heavy snowfall there last week has set up some great conditions with most areas reporting a 90-150cm (3-5 foot) base. The other ski centres to choose from include Dachstein, Hintertux, Molltal, Kitzsteinhorn (Kaprun), Pitztal, Solden, Stubai, Tux).
In Switzerland the latest ski area to open is Glacier 3000 above les Diablerets near Gstaad. Currently the Dôme ski lift and the snow park are open where there are several lines of a different level with tables, rails as well as boxes ready for use. The area joins the Engelberg, Saas Fee and Zermatt glaciers which are all already open.
Exciting news from Italy too as Bormio has announced it will open early from this weekend, Halloween, too and the country has reported some of the best new snow this week, Livigno, not yet open, noting more than 30cm of fresh snow accumulated. Bormio will run a cable car and a high speed chair serving 18km of slopes between 2,500m and 3,000m altitude. It joins Cervinia (20cm) which will now be open daily after weekend opening through October, and still open summer ski areas Passo Stelvio and Val Senales.
In France les 2 Alpes is open this week for its new festival week, but will close again on Monday for four weeks until opening for the winter on November 28th. It has 20m of snow, a little more than Tignes, the other French resorts that has now been open for six weeks this season but is currently suffering from a snow shortage and needs more.
In the Pyrenees there are no areas open yet but the first heavy snowfalls have been reported. Formigal (picture attached) in Spain has reported the first snow of the season on their ski mountain’s slopes. The 5cm dusting at Spain’s largest resort is a good sign for the coming season and forecasters are predicting a further 15cm tonight. The Pyrenees received some of the best snow in decades at many resorts last winter, and it all began in Autumn last year, so the region is hoping for a repeat of winter 08-09.
There are more than a dozen ski areas currently open in Northern Europe. Sweden currently has five ski areas to ski or board - Funäsdalen, Kåbdalis, Tänndalen, Tärnaby and Hemavan. Tänndalen is the only area that is open daily. The country’s biggest resort, Sälen, is waiting for colder temperatures along with all other resorts. One that is standing by is Åre as under the right conditions, temp, humidity, etc, Åre can produce a 50cm snow layer on its main down hill slope in just 150 hours. However Sweden needs colder temps to open new areas and the weather forecast don't look so promising for the rest of the week.
In Norway skiers have six different ski resorts to choose from the upcoming weekend. Gaustablikk and Bjorli opened already at 17th of October, and Gålå has announced their season starts this weekend. A ski season that starts in mid October is early, even in cold Norway, and this means that the first winter ski resort opened before the last summer ski resort closed (Galdhøpiggen Summer ski resort closed on 25th October). Kvitfjell, Trysil, Hafjell, Geilo, Kongsberg and Uvdal all aim to open on November 7th.
Several areas are also open in Finland, including the first to open there, Ruka.
In Western Canada the Canada Olympic Park near Calgary in Alberta is already open and resorts across Alberta and British Columbia have been reporting heavy snow falls ahead of planned opening dates in the next few weeks. The first due to open is Mount Norquay at Banff, which plans to open at weekends from this Saturday, Halloween weekend, onwards. Other resorts in the region including Nakiska and Marmot Basin, both of which have new quad chairlifts, as well as Sunshine mountain will open within the next few weeks. Resorts in British Columbia have been reporting heavy snow in recent days. "Sun Peaks Sports Director Alain Brunelle tested the powder up at Sun Peaks this morning. The last couple of days have brought 40cm of snow, bringing the base at Sun Peaks to 70cm. More storms are on the way, with snow expected Wednesday night, Thursday, and Saturday this week", resort spokeswoman Melanie Simmons told Skiinfo. Fernie and Marmot Basin have also reported big snowfalls.
In the east of the Country Mont Saint Sauveur in Quebec was the first to open, thanks in part to an expanded snowmaking system, but has since had to close again because of warmer weather.
South of the border resorts in US, Colorado and Utah are amongst those announcing fresh snow. In the case of Loveland, Colorado, which has already been open for three weeks, that means more new terrain has opened as a "Halloween treat" for its guests. Its neighbours, Copper and Keystone plan to open within weeks. Arapahoe Basin remains open although there’s no beginner terrain at the moment. Anothere two inches (5cm) of snow has fallen there is the past 24 hours and there’s an 18 inch (45cm) base mid mountain). Three runs including Ramrod are now open along! Visit the High Divide Terrain Park with 5 features. On the east Coast Sunday River in Maine remains open with the resort’s full vertical skiable with two weeks of the season clocked up so far.
In the southern Hemisphere New Zealand’s Mt Ruapehu is about to open its ‘Snovember’ opening schedule. Turoa reports a base toll at over 2.4m (8 feet) so it’s anyone’s guess how long it can stay open, but the current plan is for another few weeks at least. The centre has re-opened for Christmas in recent years and more snow is expected in the next few days.