Thursday, March 18, 2010

There’s Been More Snow In Eastern Europe, Good Conditions In The West

Skiinfo reports that there has been plenty of fresh snow once again in northern and eastern Europe and in North America, while Western Europe has good conditions for the latter half of March, with generally good weather and a healthy snowbase for most areas.
Snow conditions in France are being described as, "very good for the end of the season", following a lot of snow falling a week ago, especially in the Pyrenees, and good weather since. There has been little new snowfall in the past seven days although one small area, Le Chioula, reports 85cm (nearly three feet) of new snow in the past week. However most resorts have reported a maximum of 20cm (eight inches) of new snow. Bonneval sur Arc in the Alps and Formigueres and Porte Puymorens in the Pyrenees have reported that much. La Rosiere’s ski slopes service told Skiinfo France that the season has been good and that there is now enough snow to last to the end of the season. "This winter the snow fell steadily and the resort has received a total of more than three metres (ten feet) of powder since it opened in December. The skiers and snowboarders will be able to enjoy the snow until the end of April", said a spokesperson. Chamonix Mont-Blanc has the country’s deepest snow base with 393cm (13 feet); La Grave la Meije has 330cm (11 feet), La Rosière 290cm (9.6 feet) and Alpe d'Huez 280cm (9.3 feet).
Austria has received more than 30 powder alarms, for more than 20cm/8 inches of new snow in 24 hours, since Monday for falls of more than, under which Kaprun - Kitzsteinhorn (34 cm) and Dachstein-Glacier (30 cm). The small resort Niederalpl even reported 60cm (two feet) in 24 hours on Tuesday and now has two metres lying on its upper slopes . Christian Hörl of Gletscherbahnen Kaprun AG says, "At the Kitzsteinhorn the fresh powder snow is sparkling in the spring sunlight at the moment. After 34cm of new snow yesterday Kaprun has 178cm on upper slopes now. Anyone thinking of heading off piste should be warned that the avalanche risk is very high at level four".
In Germany the Zugspitze region reported 20cm (eight inches) of new snow yesterday and another 20cm this morning – at the moment they have a snow layer of 270cm (nine feet) depth on the glacier and of 170cm on upper slopes in Garmisch. "On Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze, the total snow depth of 270cm today March 17th is much less than in previous years. This is due to lower precipitation than normal in recent months. However, this isn’t a problem for skiing", said Johannes Burkart, marketing manager of Bayerische Zugspitzbahn. "All slopes on the Zugspitze are open and in top condition. Of course the 30cm of powder snow that fell in the last few days are an important extra. In the Zugspitze ski resort there are still one and a half months of ski fun ahead of us, the season won’t end until May 2nd". Yesterday there were 18 powder alarms in Germany. Most of the snow fell in the Bavaria. In the Allgäu Oberstdorf - Fellhorn/Kanzelwand and Grasgeheren had 20 cm.
Less new snow was reported from Switzerland although some powder alarms were issued yesterday. Laax in Grisons had 25cm (10 inches) then. Various ski resorts in the Appenzell Alps also reported 20cm (eight inches) of new snow.
Italy has seen some good snowfalls too with up to a metre of new snow in the past seven days. Artesina has had 90cm (three feet) and Limone 80cm (32 inches). Arabba Marmolada in the Dolomites has the deepest snow with 430cm (12.3 feet), Courmayeur has a metre less with 320cm (10.6 feet) on upper slopes, 220cm (7.3 feet) at the base.
In Scandinavia there have been heavy snowfalls in Norway over the past week, with resorts issuing powder alarms daily. Today the coastal resort of Voss has announced a 20CM (8 inch) fall overnight and one of the country’s three summer ski destinations, Stryn, has had 409cm (16 inches) – good news for the coming spring and summer Norwegian ski season.
In Sweden this last week brought mild temperatures to large parts of the country, but colder weather and more snow has reached some resorts in the last few days. This had resulted in high avalanche danger in some resorts, including Ramundberget and Riksgränsen which are both warning the danger is at level 4 (just below the maximum 5). An avalanche was set off on the Norwegian side just two days ago at Riksgränsen, where the ski area extends over to a makes it possible to ski on the other side of the boarder and hike 5 min back to the lift). Most snow however came in Åre with 26cm followed by Nalovardo 22cm and Ramundberget 13cm. More snow is expected in the northern part of the mountains the next couple of days. This weekend Åre is hosting the "Åre High Five" for the first time. The contest where amateurs compete against professional skiers in skicross, moguls, paralell slalom, "the flying kilometer" and sledcross usually takes place in Verbier.
Conditions remain remarkably good in Scotland where most centres still have a 1.5m (fiuve foot) base or better despite a slowing in fresh snowfall. Relatively good weather with warmer temperatures and little wind or rain have made conditions on the slopes very pleasant – try to visit mid-week to avoid the crowds if possible. The Scottish school holidays start at the end of next week on March 27. The summit terrain park at Nevis Range, on the top of Aonach Mor mountain, is set to host to a ‘big air’ competition this weekend. However, recent snowfall had looked like it might prevent the competition going ahead as the features in the Park had become buried in 150cm of snow in the recent snowfall.
In The Pyrenees the last few days have delivered some of the best snow conditions of the winter season with great snow, cold and sunny weather. Andorra is in Spring mode with between 1.1 and 2.2m of snow on the upper slopes of the princcipality’s ski areas, with the slopes frozen hard in the morning but stickier in the afternoon thanks to the freeze-thaw pattern.
Over the border in Spain The Pyrenees are still looking very nice with more than 2m (7 feet) of snow on the top of the slopes with Boi Taull leading the rank with 3m (10 feet). Sierra Nevada, Europe’s most southerly major resort, continues to have the greatest snow depth in Spain, with five metres (17 feet) on their upper slopes and 102 km of pistes. This week it hosts the Freestyle World Championship, gathering the best freestyle riders (ski and snowboard) in the disciplines of moguls and skicross and attracting 130 athletes from 17 countries, including 12 Vancouver Olympic medalists. They will compete from tomorrow until Saturday on the slopes of Sierra Nevada. Formigal has 115cm (nearly four feet) off snow on lower slopes and 240cm (eight feet) on upper runs with 128km of trails open – the largest in the country.
In Eastern Europe there has been a big improvement in conditions with most areas reporting new snow. Zabava ski area in Slovakia has reported another foot (30cm) of new snow today and Bulgaria’s ski slopes, which had been suffering from an early thaw a week ago, have also had fresh snow and are looking better.
Across the Atlantic there’s been still more heavy snow in Western Canada with Whistler reporting another 90cm (three feet) of snow in the past week or so and Marmot Basin another 20cm (8 inches) – both resorts are having record-setting snowfall seasons.
There are reasonably good conditions in Western US resorts to the south too, although it has been warmer on the East Coast the past week until a recent temperature drop.