Skiinfo reports that following heavy snow over the past week, Solden in Austria has announced it will open its glacier several weeks ahead of schedule, this Friday, 10th September, for the 2010-11 ski season.
The "Schwarze Schneidbahn" and "Kaleskogl" lifts will be in operation on the resort’s Rettenbach glacier. It’s a mixed picture elsewhere in Austria however. Although Tux is still open, as it invariably is, with one of the largest ski areas available anywhere at present, complete with more than 90cm of snow, and the Molltal glacier likewise, with a 1.3m base and 9.5km of runs, on the Kitzsteinhorn above Kapun temperatures are up above freezing again but so is the snowdepth – now 75cm, more than 60cm/two feet greater than when the slopes were "temporarily closed" due to lack of snow last month. They remain temporarily closed. As does the Dachstein glacier which looks to be in a slightly sorrier state with only 20cm of snow left on the glacier which it describes as, "wet". Things are looking better at not-yet-open Austrian ski areas like the Stubai which is also reporting fresh snow. The Pitztal glacier, with Austria’s highest slopes, is scheduled to open a week today for their long season through to May 2011
Elsewhere in the Alps there’s rather less happening. In France the two ski areas that were still open, Les 2 Alpes and Tignes, have now closed their glaciers, but in Tignes case only for three weeks. It will be one of the first resorts in the world to open for ‘winter’ 2010-11 later this month.
In Italy the choice is down to two – Val Senales and Passo Stelvio, after this weekend when Cervinia is due to finish it’s summer skiing season.
The only other European snowsport to be had at present is in Switzerland where Saas Fee and Zermatt are open, weather permitting, each with over a metre of snow on their slopes and terrain parks. The Diavolezza glacier near St Moritz has just announced it will open for the season on October 16th.
There are currently no ski slopes open in North America – which only happens for a few weeks each year and these are they! Timberline’s ski area on Mt Hood in Oregon, the only area open through the summer on the continent, is currently closed.
In the southern hemisphere many resorts are reporting conditions more spring like. In Africa that means the season is over at Lesotho but there’s been more fresh snow in South America.
In Las Leñas, at the southern end of Argentina , cover remains fairly moderate with 75cm (2.5 feet) on upper slopes. Chapelco is looking the better bet with 215cm (over seven feet) of snow on upper slopes and Catedral, the continent’s biggest resort, the best in the whole southern hemisphere with a 3.2 metre (nearly 11 foot) base on upper slopes which should see it stay open well in to the autumn.
In Chile Portillo’s lacklustre season for snow rumbles on with another inch in the past week topping up the meagre 45 – 67cm base, actually not too bad on the piste where conditions are described as ‘Spring-like’ but still not great news for the off piste abundance of powder for which the resort is world famous. There’s been no new snow at Valle Nevado either, which has a 40cm (16 inch) base and hasn’t quite reached a 4m season to date total accumulation, it’s on 397cm. Chapa Verde has decided to call it a day for winter 2010 and will reopen in June 2011.
Most of the resorts in Australia are reporting rapidly changing conditions with beautiful clear Spring days and blue skies one moment, then less welcome wind and rain the next. "It's 3.48pm on Monday afternoon. My legs are fatigued, I'm short of breath and can feel a couple of sunkissed freckles emerging on my nose. It feels great. The only way I can accurately describe our quick expedition to Orchard is, unexpected. There was not a sign, not even a whisper, of the incessant rain that pummelled Hotham over the weekend. I was expecting hard ice or wet slush, but I was not expecting a foot of fresh, light powder", said one enthused skier at Mt Hotham on Monday. The weather mix has continued. At Mt Buller it’s a similar story, the resort has 93cm (over three feet) of snow in its base and 18 lifts running, "spring really has arrived on the mountain, with a mixed bag of weather hitting the resort this week. After yesterday's beautiful bluebird conditions, today we're expecting cloudy skies, moderate to moderate/strong winds and a top temperature of 3 degrees. A strong front crossing the Alps is also expected to bring rain at times, with the chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening. Looking ahead, we're expecting showers and rain tomorrow, falling as snow at times until the late afternoon. These wetter conditions are then expected to change to snow by the weekend, with snow showers forecast for Saturday and Sunday!", said an optimistic spokesperson.
It’s a similar picture over in post-earthquake New Zealand with both areas on Mt Ruapehu (Turoa and Whakapapa) reporting changeable weather and Spring snow conditions. "Last Thursday the Mountain received 25cm of fresh snow from the West. This was then topped up by more cold wet snow from south-easterly winds on Friday night. On Saturday morning locals awoke to a picture perfect postcard view of snow covered lawns, with Ohakune and National Park covered in snow. Then there was heavy rain at the start of the week but both Ski Areas have good cover top to bottom", said a spokesperson. There has been new snow at most resorts. The remarkable got 15cm (six inches) last Friday and has a 110cm base with temperatures still below freezing. Mt hutt still has just over two metres of snow (seven feet) lying and got another 10cm on Saturday, at Treble cones there’s up to 180cm (six feet) lying so it looks like the new Zealand ski season still has a good way to run.