Skiinfo reports that it’s one of the quietest weeks of the year on the world’s ski slopes with less than 20 areas open worldwide. The southern hemisphere’s ski season is virtually over with just a few areas open in New Zealand, and although the snow guns have been firing up in North America, only one area is open so far. In Europe there are 13 areas to choose from on the glaciers where temperatures are hovering between -2 and +2C and the weather pretty settled, but more centres will open this weekend, including the first outside the Alps. As last week there are currently more indoor snow centres (around 55) open worldwide than normal outdoor slopes.
More northern hemisphere ski areas open than southern hemisphere for the first time in four months and with most of New Zealand’s areas closing at the weekend, Austria now offers more open ski areas than any other country on the planet, with seven glaciers to choose from. Upper slopes at the Kitzsteinhorn glacier above Kaprun remains open with a 57cm (two foot) base. 9km of runs are open on the Molltal glacier which has a 90cm (three foot) base. Solden has more terrain – 22.1km of runs – open, but the snow depth is 45cm (18 inches) , with another centimetre overnight. The Pitztal glacier has six lifts operating, Kaunertal three but the Tux glacier, open virtually year round, continues to have one of the biggest areas available, with 42km of runs and a near 600m vertical. The Stubai glacier near Innsbruck has a 60cm (two foot) base and nine runs open.
Switzerland will have four ski areas open this weekend with the Diavolezza glacier joins Engelberg, Saas Fee and Zermatt. Engelberg’s lifts on Mt Titlis are open from 8.30am every morning, currently there’s a 40cm base. Nine lifts, including the six-seater Ice Flyer chairlift and three runs are open. Saas Fee and Zermatt are open as usual with between 1.2 and 1.8m (4-6 feet) of snow lying on the piste. It’s just over three weeks before the World Cup arrives in Saas fee for the first outdoor snowboarding competition of the season. The resort will be building twin half pipes in its Allalin glacier snowpark. A fifth area, Glacier 3000 near Diablets and Gstaad, will open on the 30th.
Italy’s Passo Stelvio is reporting the deepest snow at an open ski area anywhere in the world at present with a two metre (6.6 foot) accumulation. Val Senales is the other Italian centre currently open with a 1.5m (five foot) base. Cervinia is due to re-open at the end of the month.
In France only Tignes is open and with the exception of a brief appearance by Les 2 Alpes at the end of the month, will remain so until late November. It currently has a 30cm (one foot) base.
Europe’s first non-glacier ski area is scheduled to open at Ruka in Finland this Friday, 15th October. A 2km long cross country run has opened already on Sunday, one of several in the country, in fact Finnish media is reporting more cross country tracks open in the country at this time of year than ever before. Most have maintained the snow.
In the US Timberline in Oregon is the only area open, although only at weekends, with a 75cm (2.5 foot) base. However temperatures have dipped on both sides of the continent and Arapahoe Basin and Loveland in Colorado have begun making snow, as has Sunday River in Maine. However resorts had begun opening by this time last year, so it seems they’re a few days behind this ‘winter’ 2010-11. There’s been fresh natural snowfall too, Breckenridge, one of the world’s highest resorts and ski areas and steamboat both reported a white coat this week, while ski instructors at Silverton Mountain have made first tracks in Colorado on their mountain.
In Canada, Mt Norquay by Banff looks likely to be the first area to open in Canada, for its 85th season, on 30th October.
There are few ski areas open in the southern hemisphere now with all ski areas closed in Africa, Australia and South America. However three centres are open still in New Zealand. Mt Hutt still has a 155cm (five feet) base and received another 10cm (four inches) of snow on Sunday 10th. On Mt Ruapehu both ski areas were closed today by strong winds and fresh snow bringing blizzard conditions, but Whakapapa has a 176cm (six foot) base and Turoa a little more. It will be the last area in the southern hemisphere open through to November.