Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fresh Snow on the Still Open Glacier Ski Areas of the Alps

Skiinfo reports that it’s currently snowing in the Alps, up on the glaciers at least, eight of which remain open for snow sports in three countries. In Northern Europe more area are opening for summer skiing in Norway, while ski areas in Finland and Scotland remain open, and in Sweden they’re skiing and boarding under the midnight sun now 24 hour daylight has returned. Half a dozen ski areas remain open in North America too since last Autumn.

It’s cold on Austria’s glaciers, four of which are currently open for snow sports, following the closure of the Molltal glacier ski area for the season last weekend. Temperatures have been dropping as low as -10 (and a max of -5) with fresh snow forecast on the Kaunertal glacier, which has a 90-140cm (3-5 foot) base and all lifts and slopes open. There are similar conditions on the Kitzsteinhorn glacier above Kaprun where nine lifts are serving the glacier ski slopes and the accumulated base is 193cm (6.5 feet). It’s -10C for the Stubai glacier near Innsbruck too, which reports 5cm (2 inches) of new snow and a 180cm (six foot) base. However the Tux glacier probably has the biggest ski area open in the Alps at present with 43.5km of runs, 13 lifts running, a 295cm (10 foot) base and an 1150m skiable vertical.
In Switzerland you can choose between Engelberg, St Moritz and Zermatt if you want to get on the snow this weekend. Zermatt continues to operate Europe’s highest ski lifts, touching 3,900m and opening up the world’s biggest lift-served summer vertical. Engelberg is in its last few weeks of operation for the season but still has its Ice Flyer six-pack chairlift operating on the glacier, though it does not open for snow sports until 11am. The Diavolezza glacier in the Engadin near St Moritz is still open and reported fresh snow on the mountain last Friday, although the base remains at 50cm (20 inches) and there’s nothing left at the bottom of the slopes.
There are no ski areas open in France at present and only terrain suited to intermediate and advanced skiers in Italy were one resort remains open for snow sports, Passo Tonale. The Presena Glacier is open there with two reds and one black run over on a vertical of nearly 500m between 2600 and 3100m. The snow remains deep here year round and is still over four metres (13 feet). A second glacier ski area, Passo Stelvio, is due to re-open the weekend after next.
In Northern Europe the region’s highest ski slopes on Galdhoppigen in Norway (1850m) opened for the season at the weekend, they’ll stay open until October. They join already open Norwegian ski areas Folgefonn and Stryn putting Norway in third place behind Austria and the US for ski areas currently open.
Over the border in Sweden Riksgransen is starting it’s brief period of offering skiing under the midnight sun and further East, Ruka in Finland still has slopes open.
In Scotland there was more fresh snow last weekend, and Cairngorm is continuing to open for weekend snow sports. The centre is using the Ptarmigan and Ciste tows as well as the funicular railway. The slopes are open from 10am - 4pm and tickets are available for the whole day or for three hour sessions.
There are four areas still open in the US, all on the Western side of the country. Mammoth Mountain (picture attached) in California has a 7.5 – 12 foot (2.3 – 3.6m) base and reports a fresh dusting of snow in the past few days. The near-year-round Timberline ski area on Mt Hood in Oregon has a 148 inch (4.5m) base. Arapahoe Basin in Colorado is looking good with about half of its lifts and terrain open with a 45 inch (112cm) base and yet another three inches (7cm) of new snow in the past few days. Snowbird in Utah is reporting a 117 inch (just under 3m) base but no fresh snow, it is currently open at weekends.
In Canada the 2009-10 ski season has finally entered its last week at Sunshine Village near Banff in Alberta. It will close next Monday, May 24th leaving only Whistler Blackcomb’s glacier skiing remaining open in Canada. Currently 9 lifts and 60 runs are operational at sunshine with a 135cm (4.5 foot) base.