Thursday, August 26, 2010

Huge Snowfalls in Argentina, But Not Much Fresh Anywhere Else

Skiinfo reports that after the dramatic snowfalls of recent weeks, the world’s snowy weather seems to have quietened down in the last seven days with only small falls reported on each side of the equator. The exception being Argentina where Catedral is claiming the have received an incredible 90cm (three feet)! of snow yesterday following other big falls a week ago. The snow depth on piste there is currently the deepest in the world at 2.4m (eight feet).
In Switzerland the two open glacier ski areas of Sass Fee and neighbouring Zermatt continue to offer the best conditions on the continent at present. Both received more than a foot of fresh snow a few weeks ago. Snow depths at both remain about 1.2m (four feet) and terrain park features are in good shape.
There’s no change in Austria where the Kitzsteinhorn’s ‘temporary closure’ due to thin snow cover on the glacier is stretching towards a month. There’s only 7cm of snow reported on there at present so it’s not looking promising that it’ll re-open any time soon. It’s a similar picture on the Dachstein Glacier which has 30cm of snow on the glacier which it describes as "wet". It only had limited cross country skiing open at present. On the Molltal glacier in the south of the country there remains 9.5km of runs open with up to 1.2m (four feet) of snow lying. Snow depth on the year-round snow sports centre at Tux in the Ziller Valley has dropped below a metre for the first time in a long while – it’s at 95cm (just over three feet), but there are still 20km of runs and more than 600m of vertical to enjoy.
Italy’s Val Senales, Cervinia and Passo Stelvio remain open, each with 70-100cm (2.3 – 3.3 feet) of snow. Cervinia, which is in its penultimate week of summer skiing, closing on September 5th, has the best snow after benefitting from the large snowfall that Zermatt received a few weeks ago.
In France cover is patchy at Les 2 Alpes and Tignes, the two open glacier ski areas, both of which close this weekend, although in Tignes’case, only for three weeks before re-opening for winter 2010-11 in mid-September!
In the USA it’s till Timberline on Mt hood in Oregon that’s the only snow sports centre open. It’s two chairs and public terrain park are all open and temperatures are dropping a little as summer draws to a close.
In the southern hemisphere we’re starting to see more Springlike conditions at some resorts while others remain in mid-Winter mode. Chile’s Portillo has issued a statement saying, "We are in a spring skiing freeze\thaw cycle. Off piste skiing cover is variable. The heliskiing is operating as weather permits on corn snow and the snow depth on the Plateau side is 100cm and 50cm on the Juncalillo side". This seems to be a pattern being repeated at other Chillean resorts, with Chapa Verde’s base depth now down to 50cm (20 inches) at Valle Nevado it’s only 40cm, despite more than 3.7m falling so far this winter. None the less, most of the terrain there remains open.
Things are looking different across the Andes in Argentina with Catedral, the continent’s biggest ski area, reporting an amazing three foot (90cm) fall today taking base depths on the mountain to 2.4m (eight feet). There’s a dramatic difference between the top ad the bottom of the slopes however, with lower runs only reporting a25cm (10 inch) base and 10cm (four inches) of new snow. It’s also looking good, if not quite so spectacular, in Chapelco with a 1.4m (4.6 foot) base. At Argentina’s other big resort, Las Leñas, snow depths on upper slopes are at 95cm (just over three feet).
Conditions are generally good across Australia’s ski areas with most of the major resorts boasring a base depth in excess of a metre (just) and most receiving at least some fresh snow in the past few days, and that snowfall is on-going. Mt Hotham reports the whole mountain is open, with Keogh's and The Orchard opened for the first time in season 2010 last week and Blue Ribbon followed suit on Saturday after 17cm (seven inches) of fresh snow fell on Friday night. August snowfalls now measure 143cm (nearly five feet) and it's been the best August for snowfalls since 2001!. Another large dump of snowflakes is expected to fall throughout this week with up to half a metre predicted.
In New Zealand the big news isn’t so much the snow as the fact that over 300 of the world's elite junior snow sports athletes from some 30 nations are in Lake Wanaka this week to compete in the inaugural joint FIS Snowboard & Freestyle Junior World Championships (picture attached) which began last Thursday 19th August and continue to Tuesday the 31st. Marking the first time a FIS World Championship has taken place in New Zealand and the first time the disciplines of Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding have combined at FIS World Championship level, the event has attracted a high calibre field. Cardrona, where some of the main events are taking place is reporting excellent conditions with temperatures around -3 and 90cm (three feet) of snow on upper runs, virtually everything open, but no fresh snow. SnowPark NZ, the other venue, doesn’t go in to detail but just reports everything ‘open’. Mt Ruapehu’s two resorts of Turoa and Whakapapa have bases of 115-160cm (approximately 4 – 5.3 feet) and though they’ve had no new snow, are expecting fresh for the rest of the week. Over at The Remarkables the snow has started falling, just, with a centimetre of fresh in the past 24 hours, it has a one metre base. Mt Hutt has had the same fall but double the base. Coronet Peak also reports a centimetre of new snow on its 110cm base.
Afriski, the only ski area open in Africa, reports conditions little changed on last week. The resort managed nine hours of snowmaking in the past 24 hours taking the season-to-date snowmaking hours total tantalising close to 500, with 485 to date. The ski area in Lesotho has built up a 70cm (2.3 foot) deep base on its 700m long main run and there’s also a terrain park and beginners slope open. The resort has had no natural snowfall reported this winter.

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