Thursday, May 13, 2010

Quietest Three Weeks Of The Year On the Slopes Begins

Skiinfo reports that despite on-going cold weather in parts of Europe and ski areas still boasting a ski pack of many metres at most top resorts, less than 30 ski centres are currently open worldwide as most northern hemisphere ski areas have now closed and southern hemisphere resorts are now open.
There are in fact more places to ski snow indoors than outdoors open at present, with some 60 indoor snow centres operational in 25 countries.

The latter half of May is traditionally the quietest period of the entire year for world skiing as the northern hemisphere’s season ends while the southern hemisphere’s is yet to begin, and several dozen northern ski areas that will open for summer skiing from June take a few week’s break for low season maintenance.
It is still snowing in different areas around the world however. Mammoth Mountain, the only ski area still open in California, has reported 5.5 inches (14cm) of new snow in the past 24 hours to add to its 8-12 foot base and there’s been new snow at Arapahoe basin in California and in the southern hemisphere in Australia.
The ski season has now ended in France and no outdoor snow slopes are open in the country. Tignes, Val d’Isere and les 2 Alpes will re-open in June for summer skiing. There’s plenty of snow still lying however and the ski touring season is still going strong for those prepared to hike up however. In St Foy the Tarentaise Mountain Guides have some places for a collective ski touring group from tomorrow 13th May to Sunday the 16th of May.
There’s not much open in Italy either as Cervinia closed last weekend until it re-opens for summer skiing in late June. Two other ski centres will also be open for summer skiing – Passo Stelvio which re-opens for the last weekend of May, and Val Senales, which opens on 12th June. In the interim however the Presena Glacier above Passo Tonale will remain open until late June. It currently has around four metres (13 feet) of snow on the glacier and two red and two black runs to enjoy.
In Switzerland the weather has warmed up after last week’s snow showers and three resorts are still open. Engelberg’s Titlis glacier as well as the slopes of Zermatt remain open, as dopes the Diavolezza glacier near St Moritz which has a 1000m+ vertical to enjoy still, with 50cm (1.6 feet) of snow at the top.
Austria has the lion’s share of Spring skiing in Europe now with glacier skiing available at five areas. At the Kaunertal glacier where all lifts are running and all pistes open, heavy snow showers are expected for the rest of the week topping up the 85-135cm (3-4.5 foot) base. It’s a similar story on the Pitztal glacier, Austria’s highest ski area, which is approaching its last weekend of its eight month ski season, which commenced last September. The Stubai has one of the largest ski areas open anywhere at the moment with 18 runs served by 16 lifts to choose from on an 1.8m (six foot) base. You can also ski or board this weekend on the Kitzsteinhorn or Huntertux glaciers.
In Northern Europe several ski areas remain open in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Scotland.
There’s a heavy frost this morning in the Scottish Highlands where the mountains have been repeated small falls of fresh snow over the past few days. The ski area is open weekends only through May.
In Sweden Riksgransen ski area in the Swedish Arctic is stil, in full swing and will begin its midnight sun skiing in the next few weeks. In Finland Riuka still has ski slopes open and in Norway Galdhøpiggen summer ski area is due to join already open Folgefonn, which has a four metre (13.3 foot base) when it opens tomorrow, May 13th.
In North America more ski areas closed after last weekend and resorts still known to be operating are down to Mammoth Mountain in California, Snowbird in Utah, Arapahoe Basin in Colorado and Timberline in Oregon. Mt Hood Meadows, also in Oregon, is reported to be opening this weekend and next. Arapahoe Basin has reported another inch of snow in the past three days, topping up its 44 inch (110cm) base. Six of its seven lifts are running and about 75% of the total terrain open.
North of the border in Canada Whistler’s Olympic ski season continues and Banff’s Sunshine ski area is in to the last fortnight of its long winter. The lifts are no longer running at Silver Star Mountain in British Columbia but Canada’s National Team and development team cross country skiers (picture attached) are enjoying beautiful spring conditions. Mike Cavaliere, Head Coach of the National Development Team states "The ski conditions are ideal, great grooming and sunny skies". The athletes stay at Silver Star Mountain Resort and use the National Altitude Training Center weight room in the afternoon. This year cross country skiers were able to ski eight months of the year on Silver Star Mountain. (October-May) The National Cross Country Ski Team starts their winter season at Silver Star (November) and starts their spring training for the new training year at Silver Star (May). 98 Olympic medals were won by athletes in cross country skiing and biathlon who trained at Silver Star Mountain leading into the 2010 Olympic Games.
With a month to go to the start of the new season in Australia, Mt Hotham is expecting nowfalls through the next 48 hours. This comes hot on the heels of some earlier snowfalls in the previous week when the heavens opened over Hotham and Dinner Plain with snowfalls down to 1300m at Hotham Airport. At this time of the year, early light snowfalls work well to cool the ground and prepare it for snowfalls closer to the season opening. This also helps the resort to prepare for the commencement of snowmaking as the ground will be ready to hold snow on it.