Thursday, April 19, 2012

More Snow in The Alps and North America for Still Open Ski Areas

An estimated 250 ski areas remain open in the northern hemisphere for the last few weeks of April 2012 – and many have been blessed with significant new snowfall over the past few days.
The Alps along with ski areas in California have seen the biggest falls but there’s been new snow too in the Dolomites, Pyrenees, Scandinavia, Western Canada, Utah, New England and in Scotland ski areas have re-opened after nearly two months thanks to fresh snow in a much colder April than the February and March that went before.
The number of resorts still open in Austria has fallen dramatically in the last few days with now only around 20 resorts still open in Austria. More resorts will close in the next week and yesterday, Tuesday April 17th, skiers could enjoy the last day of the season on the famous Hahnenkamm run in Kitzbuehel. With sunshine and fresh powder it was a perfect ski day and with a snow depth of 160cm Kitzbuehl has still 11 slopes open. The remaining open resorts are of course pleased about the new fresh snow they’ve received during the past few days. Up to 45cm (18 inches) of powder fell at resorts including the Pitztaler Glacier, Kaprun – Kitzsteinhorn and Obergurgl-Hochgurgl . In addition up to 30cm (a foot) of new snow was reported from Stubaital, Kitzbuehel and Stubai Glacier. The snow depth on the Dachstein Glacier is now up to 600cm (20 feet). At the Stubai Glacier the snow depth is 420cm and at the Pitztal Glacier 394cm.
Most of the ski areas in France which are still open have received at least 30cm (a foot) of new snow in the past seven days. Among the beneficiaries La Clusaz received 39cm, Tignes (open to May 7th) 35cm and Les 2 Alpes and Val d’Isere 20cm each. Chamonix still has the country’s deepest snow at 3.6m (12 feet). On the French side of the Pyrenees some ski areas are still open and Cauterets announced a powder alarm for more than 20cm of fresh snow earlier this week.
Italy has had its share of fresh snow this week too with summer ski destination Val Senales doing best with 60cm (two feet) of new snow setting it up for great late spring skiing. There has also been a foot (30cm) of snow or more at other leading resorts in both the Alps and Dolomites including the Monterosa region and Cortina. Livigno received 40cm. Passo Tonale has the deepest snow in Italy at 3.7m (12.3 feet).
Switzerland is the country with probably the most open ski resorts at the moment with more than 40 resorts open. In recent days several resorts received very good snow falls including Saas Fee with 92cm (over three feet) as well as Crans Montana Aminona with 69cm, Andermatt with 42cm and the Gstaad Glacier 3000 with 40cm. The new powder is definitely welcome at the slopes and skiers can enjoy skiing after Easter even more. The snow depth in Engelberg is again more than six metres (20 feet) and the deepest in Europe, in Saas-Fee (picture attached) there is 439cm lying at higher levels, in Andermatt and Crans Montana 400cm and in Gstaad Glacier 3000 - 380cm.
Resorts in Scandinavia have reported up to 42cm (17 inches) of new snow in the past seven days. Big resorts still open include Hemsedal in Norway and Are in Sweden which are both gearing up for big May Weekend closing extravaganza. Further north Riksgransen in the Swedish Arctic Circle and Ruka in Finland expect to be open in to June and 24 hour daylight.
The cold April in Scotland and fresh snow this week left the country’s web cams looking as white as they have done for two months, since mid-February, earlier this week. It has warmed up slightly in the past 24 hours but Cairngorm above Aviemore has terrain open today and Glencoe and Nevis Range are considering re-opening later this week subject to demand/conditions. The Lecht and Glenshee have white slopes but the snow is not deep enough to justify re-opening.
Most ski areas in Canada have now closed but the stalwarts that stay open in to May or later each year are enjoying record or near-record spring snow bases and several have had fresh snow in the past week. In BC its Whistler Blackcomb that’s enjoying great conditions and has extended its season to the end of May after a record snowfall in March. In Alberta Lake Louise hopes to break its all time snowfall record before closing on May 7th and Sunshine, which is open another two weeks after that, already has done. There’s also been fresh snow to the north at still-open Marmot Basin near Jasper.
Most US resorts are now closed for the season and the survivors are largely the usual purveyors of spring skiing – but perhaps a little earlier in the year than usual. Despite late season snow – with many Californian resorts receiving up to a metre of new snow in the past week following on from more good snowfalls over the past month, it seems unlikely that there’ll be anything like the repeat of last season’s late Spring and early summer opening in the area. Currently Alpine Meadows, which has said it will stay open at weekends to at least May 13th, is the only Tahoe resort to announce plans to stay open beyond the end of the month. Mammoth Mountain to the south which has also received 90cm of new snow in the past week has said it will stay open to at least May 28th (Memorial Day) however. Colorado’s ski areas have largely closed – Arapahoe Basin, Loveland and Winter Park remain open with mid-mountain bases around 1.2m (four feet). Also open and planning to stay open in to May at least are Crystal Mountain in Washington State and Timberline in Oregon. In Utah only Brighton and snowbird are open with Alta saying they’ll re-open the next few weekends. The state has seen good snowfall of up to 61cm (two feet – at Alta) in the past week and Snowbird says it will be open weekends through May while the snowpack – currently averaging 2.5m mid-mountain – remains. On the East Coast with the closure of Sugarloaf and Sunday River in Maine at the weekend (Sunday River pointing out that despite a tough snowfall season it had in fact opened in late October and been able to make snow on more than 200 days of its near six month season) only Killington in Vermont is still open with conditions rather more wintery that much of the winter at present. Two lifts and six runs are open there.

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