Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Third Week In A Row of Snowfall In Both Northern and Southern Hemisphere Ski Areas

Skiinfo reports that there has been fresh snow once again in the Alps and in many areas in the southern hemisphere, however temperatures are also still warm in the Alps, and one glacier in Austria has had to close temporarily as a result, taking the number of open centres down to 10. The biggest falls of the past week have been in New Zealand with resorts receiving up to a metre of snow in 48 hours, with one reporting 68cm on Sunday alone.
Val Senales in Italy has reported the biggest snowfall in the Northern Hemisphere, at an open ski area at least, in the past seven days with a 25cm (10 inch) fall last Thursday, 5th August, it has a one metre base. At Cervinia it’s 70cm nut a rather warm +5C on the Plateau Rosa glacier, Passo Stelvio is also open for snow sports.
Despite some fresh snow last week the Kitzsteinhorn glacier above Kaprun in Austria which has been battling an increasingly thin snow pack, has decided to temporarily halt snow sports until conditions improve. Currently the snowpack is down in to single figures (7cm) and temperatures on the glacier are +4C. It’s better news on the Hintertux glacier which is still maintaining one of the largest snow areas in the Alps with 20km of trails open served by nine lifts, it reported fresh snow on Saturday. It’s warm to on the Dachstein glacier where cross country trails and the Horsefeathers Superpark are both open. In the latter’s case a ski area spokesman says, "The setup remains in great shape and shredding the slushy snow under a bright blue sky makes you feel like a fish in his favourite water". The third glacier still open in Austria is the Molltal which is continuing to report 9.5km of slopes open with up to 1.5m (five feet) of snow depth just as it has for the past month or so. It intends to remain open now until mid-May next year.
We’re in to the last few weeks of the summer ski season in France where the glaciers at Tignes and Val d’isere will close later this month. However the closure will be only temporary in the case of Tignes which re-opens in late September and remains the only open French ski area for most of the autumn. Both have glacier snow bases of 60-100cm and both received a little snowfall late last week, greatly improving conditions over the very hot days of July.
In Switzerland Saas Fee and Zermatt are both open, receiving up to 4cm of new snow at the weekend. Saas Fee reports a 117cm (nearly four foot) base. It has ten lifts, four runs, its terrain park and half pipe open.
The only other lift-served skiing in the northern hemisphere, besides indoor centres, is at Timberline on Mt Hood in Oregon (USA) where there’s about a metre(3.3 foot) base with ski liofts operating between 7am and 1.30pm daily. The Mile Canyon ‘freestyle terrain area’ is also open.
In South America there’s been little new snow in Chile, Portillo has reported 9cm (four inches) in the past week, and the base remains between 40cm and a metre, still waiting for the first huge fall of the season. Chapa Verde has a 50cm (20 inch) base. Valle Nevado’s large ski area remains almost entirely open, with a 70cm (2.3 feet) with no new snow in recent days. It has received 3.7m (over 12 feet) of snow so far this season.
It’s a similar picture in Argentina where Las Lenas reports snow depths of 40-110cm (1.3 – 3.6 feet), but some of the continent’s deepest snow at present is on the upper slopes of Catedral to the north, which has the biggest uplift capacity in South America and 1.4m (nearly five feet) snow depth on its upper runs.
Over in Australia and New Zealand there’s been more snow through the past seven days. Australian resorts have been cheering their ongoing falls after the big falls a week ago, but this time it’s New Zealand’s slopes that have seen huge falls, with one, Mt Hutt, receiving over a metre in 24 hours, 68cm (2.3 feet) of it on Sunday the 8th alone. The centre is currently digging out its terrain park and other facilities as fast as it can, but is open to anyone who can get there and if self driving chains or a four-by-four are required. The current snowbase of 2.4 metres (eight feet) is among the deepest in the world at present.
Other ski areas in New Zealand have reported big, if not quite such meteoric accumulations in the past few days. Coronet Peak added 45cm (18 inches) to their base and now has a 110cm accumulation. Treble Cone has a 157cm (over five foot) base wioth 15cm (six inches) falling in the past 48 hours. Over on Mt Ruapehu , Whakapapa has a 90cm (three foot) base, Turoa 150cm (five feet).
Conditions are largely good in Australia with most resorts now having at least a 60cm (two foot) base, temperatures hovering around freezing, and snow flurries. More of the same is expected for most through the rest of the week and hopefully some bigger snowfalls too. Falls Creek has almost all of its lifts and runs open, snow depth is averaging around 60ccm but in snowmaking areas it’s up on 99.5cm (3.3feet). Mt Hotham has had 5cm (two inches) of new snow in the past 24 hours and has an average snow depth of 70cm (2.3 feet), but the depth in snow making areas is above 1.1m – nearly four feet. It’s looking good in Thredbo too, with an 83cm base (just under three feet) with 3cm of new snow while Mt Buller has 60-90cm (2-3 feet), 5cm of it fresh in the past 24 hours.
In Africa conditions are little changed. Afriski in Lesotho reports lovely sunny days – too sunny by the afternoon when the snow becomes too sticky, but still dropping low enough overnight to continue snowmaking and top up any snow that’s melted during the day. So the centre is managing to maintain a 600m long slope with a 70cm base, as well as an additional beginners slope and its terrain park.

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