Skiinfo reports that with most of the ski areas in the southern hemisphere now closed (except in New Zealand), we have entered one of the quietest periods of the year with less than 30 ski centres currently open worldwide – less than .5% of the world total!
In fact there are currently fewer outdoor ski areas open than indoor snow centres – there are now more than 50 of these operational worldwide including SnowWorld Landgraaf in the Netherlands which is about to stage the first events of the northern hemisphere’s FIS World Cup. Although more ski areas are expected to open in the Alps, North America and Scandinavia through October, it seems likely that open indoor centres will continue to outnumber these in to November, especially as more New Zealand areas end their 2010 season.
This week New Zealand has the most ski areas open, with nine centres to choose from, but Austria is not far behind with seven glacier ski centres to choose from. Elsewhere in Europe there are still several areas open in Italy and Switzerland with Tignes the lone ski area open in France.
You can also ski or board in South America – where just the Catedral ski area in Chile is open, although this is the last week of the season and in North America – where the timberline ski area in Oregon has reopened (Fridays to Sundays) last weekend.
13 ski areas are currently open in the Alps.
In Austria the recently re-opened Kitzsteinhorn glacier above Kaprun has some of the country’s best conditions with a 70cm base and upper slopes open. The Molltal glacier has 4 lifts running serving 9.5km of runs and a 90cm base. The Pitztal glacier has entered the second month of the season from 28-35cm and six lifts operational, Kaunertal 40-60cm of snow and three lifts running. Solden has one of the largest areas in the alps open at present with 21km of runs served by 6 lifts while the Stubai has 7 runs open and a 60cm base. But the Tux glacier has the largest ski are open in the northern hemisphere are present with 42km of piste over a 565m vertical served by 13 lifts with a 1.2m (four foot) base. The Dachstein glacier has 10cm of snow crust on the glacier and remains closed.
Switzerland now has three centres to choose from with Engelberg having joined Saas Fee and Zermatt, a fourth choice the Diavolezza glacier near St Moritz is due to open the weekend after next. Saas Fee reported 5cm (two inches) of fresh snow yesterday and it now has a 1.2m (four feet) base.
Two ski centres are currently open in Italy, Passo Stevio and Val Senales. The latter has a metre 10 150cm of snow lying, the last fall 10cm a week ago on September 28th.
In France Tignes is the only area open, with a 30cm (one foot) base.
In the southern hemisphere New Zealand is the only country with a sizable number of ski areas still open although even here it’s the last week or so of the season at most areas. However Ruapehu has said its Turoa area will stay open to November, both Whakapapa and Turoa currently have a near 1.8m (six foot base). Some areas have already closed however including Lake Wanaka’s ski areas. Treble Cone (picture attached) closed on a high note on Sunday afternoon with a record number of final-day visitors and the fancy dress Slush Cup, bringing to an end a successful 2010 season. They closed with an end of season record base of 232cm in the Saddle Basin and 108cm in the Home Basin. Treble Cone marketing manager Nigel Kerr said he was delighted with the way the season had gone and the overall visitor numbers. "We are really pleased with this year’s season and gaining greater local support. Mother Nature certainly served up some interesting weather patterns with a bountiful supply of snow throughout spring, we are already looking forward to opening day next year!", he said. Although now closed, there is a final opportunity to get the last turns of the season at Treble Cone, next Saturday 9th October (weather day 10th October) for the local charity fundraising day with the proceeds going to the Aspiring Avalanche Dogs.
Australia’s ski areas are now closed but most are reflecting on a highly successful season.
Typical was Mt Hitham where a spokesman summed up the winter, "With a solid snowmaking base on the ground at the end of July, we were blessed with huge natural snowfalls in August. An epic 47cm of fresh snowflakes fell overnight on the 26 August - the biggest single snow dump we have seen at Hotham since 2003. The huge August snowfalls brought a total of 227cm of natural snow falling over the month. This was not only the snowiest August, but the snowiest single month we have seen since 1992! Great natural snowfalls set us up for a fabulous spring with Blue Ribbon running through until September 14 and Gotcha, Keogh's and Orchard until September 24 - a fantastic result for areas which rely solely on natural snow coverage". Hotham's snowmaking team had 22 brand new Techno Alpin snowguns to play with in 2010 bringing our total to 77, and they worked hard throughout the season to produce a huge 424,417 cubic metres of snow (the equivalent of 42,442 truckloads of snow). The new guns created 40% greater snowmaking capacity and allowed our snowmakers to produce a massive 114% more snow than in 2009.