After a quiet few months with just a few dozen ski areas open in the Northern Hemisphere, the southern hemisphere’s 2011 winter is getting underway in July, Skiinfo reported. The choice of open ski centres is back up to triple figures, with 30 ski areas still open in seven northern hemisphere countries for the start of July too.
There are about a dozen glacier ski areas open through July. The past few weeks have been hot in the Alps and in some cases snow depths on the glaciers have been dropping at the rate of 30cm a week, but most still have adequate snow depths to see them through.
Austria has more spring, summer and autumn glacier ski areas than any other country but only three are likely to be open for some or all of July. They include Tux, which tries to open every day of the year and currently has a two metre base and more than 20km of piste open, as well as the Dachstein and Kitzsteinhorn (above Kaprun) glaciers.
In France all three French summer glacier areas re-opened in June and Les 2 Alpes and Tignes will be open through July, conditions permitting. Val d’Isere calls it a day on 2011 summer skiing on July 17th, however.
Italy also has a choice of three centres open. Val Senales re-opened last month to join Passo Stelvio, and now Cervinia on the Italian side of the Matterhorn is open for summer skiing, extending the area available all year from Zermatt and offering cross-border summer skiing.
In Switzerland the afore-mentioned year round snow slopes of Zermatt have been the only Swiss destination for skiers and boarders through June, and the snow is currently lying a metre thick there. A second Swiss ski choice re-opens on July 9th when its neighbour Saas Fee begins its 10 month season to May 2012, starting with some major events planned for its terrain park.
In Scandinavia, Norway is where to go with its three summer snow centres open and currently boasting the world’s greatest snow depths. Folgefonn has over 7 metres (23 feet) of snow lying, and Stryn and Galdhoppigen both have over three metres.
In North America following the massive snowfalls of last winter it’s a remarkable picture for Canada Day on July 1st and Independence Day on July 4th in the US as most than a dozen West Coast ski areas will still be open, or will re-open for the holiday weekend on both sides of the border.
In the US how many will still be open after July 4th is not yet certain but it’s possible Mammoth in California (picture attached) and Crystal Mountain in Washington State will decide to do so. The latter has said it will stay open at weekends so long as the snow lasts, and it’s currently still more than two metres deep. Others who have not yet confirmed a closing date include Arapahoe Basin in Colorado and Snowbird and Snowbasin in Utah – all three open at weekends only at present. Timberline in Oregon WILL be open daily through July and August as it is every year. Californian centres re-opening for Independence Day weekend only include Alpine Meadows, Donner Summit, Kirkwood and Squaw Valley.
Mount Washingtom on Vancouver island is open for the first weekend of July only, to celebrate Canada’s national day, the first time the resort has ever opened in July. The Blackcomb glacier at Whistler is open longer, through to July 24 from 12pm to 3pm daily.
Australia got off with a great start to winter 2011 with record early-openings in May followed by healthy snowfall for planned opening weekends in early June, with more snow falling later in the month. Cover in Australia is always a little problematic but so far it’s looking good for July at most resorts.
New Zealand had a very warm May and June and resorts that were due to have opened weeks ago got off to a slow start, but as we begin July Mt Hutt, Turoa and Whakapapa have limited terrain open, and it is snowing at last, so hopefully July will be a bumper month.
South Africa’s Tiffindfell ski area is out of-action this winter as ownership is auctioned off, but Afriski in Lesotho got off to a good, on time start to winter last month and currently has a kilometre long trail open plus a terrain park with a mix of machine made and natural snow cover.
In Argentina the Puyehue Volcano erupting close to the continent’s largest ski resort in terms of uplift – Catedral – last month wasn’t a great start to the 2010 winter there, but a greater problem has been a lack of early season snow, which the resort says is why it delayed opening last week. Recently it has been snowing there and at another major Argentinian resort, Las Lenas, which also delayed opening, and they now both hope to open in early July.
Chile too has not had a great start to winter 2011 but resorts are opening, initially with limited terrain, but with hopes that conditions will improve dramatically during early July. Valle Nevado has delayed opening until early July and Portillo, although 30% open, has stopped selling lift tickets until conditions improve. Currently snow depths are 30-60cm.