Monday, June 29, 2009

Dolomites Declared Natural World Heritage Site

The World Heritage Committee holding its 33rd session chaired by María Jesús San Segundo, the Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Spain to UNESCO, has inscribed Dolomites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
"The Dolomites now officially belong to the most beautiful mountains in the world", said a statement from the Dolomiti Superski organisation which operates nearly 500 ski lifts in the mountains in winter, covering one of the world’s largest ski pass areas with up to 1,200klm (750 miles) of runs open on one ticket.
The Dolomites (Italy) comprise a mountain range in the northern Italian Alps, numbering 18 peaks which rise to above 3,000 metres and cover 141,903 ha. It features some of the most beautiful mountain landscapes anywhere, with vertical walls, sheer cliffs and a high density of narrow, deep and long valleys. A serial property of nine areas that present a diversity of spectacular landscapes of international significance for geomorphology marked by steeples, pinnacles and rock walls, the site also contains glacial landforms and karst systems. It is characterized by dynamic processes with frequent landslides, floods and avalanches. The property also features one of the best examples of the preservation of Mesozoic carbonate platform systems, with fossil records.
The best known peaks, such as Marmolada (3,342 m), Tofana di Rozes (3,225 m), Sassolungo (3,181 m), Three Peaks of Lavaredo (2,999 m), Mount Pelmo (3,169 m) and the Pale di San Martino (3,192 m) are the centre pieces of one of the most charming mountain landscapes on the planet.
UNESCO was enchanted by the beauty of the Dolomites, as were the great poet Goethe, the writer Mario Rigoni Stern and the architect Le Corbusier – pointed spires, jagged summits and glorious colors that change throughout the day. At sunset the Dolomites turn a fiery red, then change to violet before disappearing into the night. This is the "Enrosadira”"– a phenomenon caused by the unusual chemical composition of dolomite – a natural spectacle that is beyond compare.

Ski Paradise is two years old

Ski Paradise is two years old. The first post went up on June 29, 2007. My introductory post was titled Get away from it all in Verbier. Now, I want to commemorate and celebrate the second anniversary with this post. The blog that you see here is definitely a labor of passion, a passion for ski and the mountains. When I started I had no idea how it was going to work out, but 510 posts later, I can not see myself without it. It has forced me to read and research, to be creative and fundamentally helps me to update knowledge and learn more and more about Snow Tourism and Ski & Mountain Resorts.
When I look back to my blogging journey since that wonderful morning, I am amazed how I have managed to ride this slope. If you have blogged, you probably know the troubles and doubts you worry about as a non-techie and inexperienced blogger that I had to face during this time.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Canadian Ski Council announced Recognition and Excellence Research Awards

The Canadian Ski Council (CSC) has named five recipients of the 2008-2009 Canadian Ski Council Industry Recognition and Excellence Research Awards, which are presented to ski areas from each province or region of Canada that have proven to have an outstanding record of customer loyalty, excellence in customer satisfaction and a strong commitment to increasing growth in skiing and snowboarding.
Each of these traits were measured based on the results of the customer service and satisfaction questions that were included in the CSC National Consumer Profile and Satisfaction Survey. This year's provincial/regional research award recipients include: Sun Peaks Resort, British Columbia; Sunshine Village Resort, Alberta; Oshawa Ski Club, Ontario; Massif du Sud, Quebec; and Marble Mountain, Newfoundland. In addition to regional/provincial winners, an overall National Award winner was selected from the provincial/regional award winners, based on which ski area had the highest overall results. This year's National winner of the CSC Industry Recognition and Excellence Research Award is Sun Peaks Resort located in the province of British Columbia. This is the second time that Sun Peaks Resort has won the overall award. The last time that they won this award was in 2007. "On behalf of the Canadian Ski Council Board of Directors, staff and the entire ski and snowboard industry, we would like to congratulate and thank each of these award winners for their contribution, dedication and commitment to conducting research and enabling our industry to increase growth and participation in our winter sports", said Colin Chedore, President of the Canadian Ski Council.
The 2008-2009 CSC Industry Recognition and Excellence Research Awards winners will be recognized at the CSC State of the Ski and Snowboard Industry Conference that is taking place at the Hilton Whistler Resort and Spa from July 6th to 8th.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fredrik Ericsson's Partner Michele Fait dies on K2

Tragedy struck Fredrik Ericsson's attempt to be the first to ski K2 (8611m), known to be one of the most deadly mountains in the world. Michele and Fredrik were on a second day of acclimating and skiing on K2.
Vinicio Stefanello, editor of PlanetMountain, wrote: "Michele was a good man. This was my first thought when, this morning, it was confirmed that Michele Fait had fallen to his death between Camps 2 and 1 at roughly 6400m while skiing down the Cesen route on K2. His skis slipped on a sheet of ice and then hit some rocks, catapulting him down to the base of the wall. More than a thousand meters left no chance for survival. News of the tragedy was confirmed Fredrik Ericsson, the Swedish skier who planned to descend K2 together with Fait. The two mountaineers had spent a night at Camp 2 at circa 6400/6500m and had started their descent which then proved fatal for Fait".
Sean Wisedale, the first African to climb the highest mountain on each continent, is currently one of four expeditions up on K2. He reported on his blog: "Swedish extreme skier Fredrik Ericsson and Italian Michele Fait were attempting to be the first to ski down K2. This morning, the weather was perfect – which was of no benefit to Fait. On the descent, the worst scenario possible happened - Fiat plummeted. Ericsson was skiing lower down the slopes and after he had seen Fiat fall, began to haul upwards to get to him. At Base Camp we watched, unsure if the fall had been fatal or not. We started to construct a make-do stretcher and prepare to assist with the rescue effort. Our leader Fabrizio headed out back up the middle of the glacier and we watched as Ericsson and Fabrizio reached Fait’s limp body 20 minutes later and began to lower him down to the base of the route. The slopes are avalanche prone and as the pair descended, Fabrizio then approached them from below. There is no way to safely recover Fait’s body today…he is secured on the slope. Fabrizio and Ericsson descended to base camp and we will attempt to recover his body tomorrow at first light".
This morning, Wisedale posted this about the recovery of Fait's body: "We left base camp at 07h00 this morning for the foot of the Cesen route to recover Michele Fait’s body. The weather was perfect but there was a wind building from the west. Wim, Wilky, Jake, Fabrizio, Tunc, Dave, Fredrik (Michele’s skiing partner), Dave from the German expedition and I set out. On the walk in we could see Michele’s body lying on the slope. The details of the recovery are grim, save to say his body is wrapped and buried. 10 strong men stood in respect of a fellow mountaineer. Fredrik wept at the passing of his friend".
Sometimes life and adventure in the mountains could be really hard. A few days ago Fredrik's wrote: " The next morning both Michele and I woke up with a headache and it was blowing and snowing outside. Great! After breakfast and a bit of fresh air my headache was gone but Michele must have caught some altitude illness since he didn't get well until we were back in base camp. After chilling in our tent for a few hours it stopped snowing and cleared up so we put our skis on and started sliding down the mountain. We took it easy in the beginning since I am always a bit unsecure on a new mountain especially when it is steep and rocks around. The snow was better than we had expected, cold and just a little windpacked and it was sloughing a bit. When the slope opened up I could do bigger turns and carry more speed, just cruising down the mountain. I had a big smile on my face, cause even if only a third of the mountain, we were skiing on K2. I got 900 vertical meters of nice skiing before I, totally euphoric, took my skis off 30 meters from my tent in BC. I had just skied the coolest ski slope in the world". Reports Bikini Skiing in France

Skiinfo reports that Europe’s summer glacier ski season continues to improve with two more centres open and up to 18cm (Seven inches) of fresh snow reported on the still-open slopes of Austria. South of the equator still more ski areas have been opening to great conditions in New Zealand and more snow is forecast for Australia.
In France Tignes is the second resort to open for summer skiing after Les 2 Alpes a week ago. To celebrate the resort staged a bikini ski event on Saturday in which a small number of enthusiasts took to the snow slopes clad only in swimwear and ski boots. Ski gloves, eye protection and sun cream were also allowed in this ‘competition'. The lifts opened at 7.15am on Saturday, June 20, heralding the start of the summer ski season which is staged on 20km of piste on the Grande Motte glacier between 3,000 and 3,500m above sea level. The ski area will be open for the next 10 weeks through to 30th August from 7.15am to 1pm daily. The Perce-Neige underground funicular lifts skiers to the glacier in only seven minutes where a dozen ski lifts are operational. A one day ski ticket costs 31 Euros for an adult, 25 Euros for a child.
Austria continues to offer the widest choice of glacier skiing in Europe with four centres operational.
The Mölltaler Glacier re-opened on Saturday with about 9km (six miles) of pistes open every day from 8am to 4pm. Temperatures are typically a few degrees below zero and the glacier snow base depth 330cm with 10-cm (four inches) of fresh snow reported in the past few days.
The Kitzsteinhorn Glacier above Kaprun has reported 18cm (7 inches) of fresh snow. Seven lifts are operational with a 365cm (12 foot) base on the glacier. The Kitzsteinhorn’s Ice arena will open this Friday, June 26th. Facilities include snow slides served by a magic carpet conveyor lift, a ‘PistenBully’ snow grooming vehicle for children to play on and a snow beach with Ice bar, a panorama terrace at the summit station and a 362m long panorama tunnel straight through the Kitzsteinhorn. In addition the Panorama terrace Glocknerkanzel provides a view of the Großglockner, Austria’s highest mountain. There is also a secured glacier path across the eternal ice and a daily free guided panorama hike across the glacier on offer. The Hintertux glacier continues to have the largest ski area open with 23km (14 miles) of piste served by weight lifts and a 225cm (9 foot) base. The Dachstein Glacier also has a small ski area open.
Elsewhere in Europe three glacier ski areas remain open in Norway, with deep snow bases at each, Italy also has three glacier ski areas to choose from and in Switzerland Europe’s highest ski lifts and the world’s biggest lift-served summer vertical remain in operation at year-round ski area, Zermatt.
Across the Atlantic in North America, after a brief hiatus Whistler Blackcomb is back in snow business with the opening of the Horstman Glacier on Blackcomb Mountain on Saturday, June 20 for summer skiing and snowboarding. It joins Timberline in Oregon, south of the border,
Professional skiers and snowboarders from around the world made their way to Whistler Blackcomb for their annual summer snow sesh. Everyone from Olympic Gold medalist Jennifer Heil to TransWorld SNOWboarding's Reader's Choice snowboarder of the year and Red Bull athlete Marie France Roy will be there seshing some of the best snow features in the Northern Hemisphere.
In South America there’s been very heavy snow in recent days with Argentina’s Las Lenas resort reporting 120cm (four feet) of snow accumulated at the base and 260cm (nearly nine feet) at the top of the mountain, it expects to open shortly. Caviahue opened today (June 24) with snow depths of 20 to 80cm (10 – 32 inches). Other Argentinian ski areas are reporting snow but are not yet open, for example Los Penitentes reports a 20cm (eight inch) base. Chapelco has between 2cm (an inch) on lower slopes and 50cm (20 inches) on upper runs and temperatures hovering a few degrees below zero. Catedral also has a good covering of fresh snow. In Chile, Portillo reports its slopes are 65% open having received over 140cm (five feet) of snow already this season. More than half of that has fallen in the past week and conditions are described as “packed powder”. Valle Nevad0 opened on Monday (22nd June) reporting a metre (3.3 feet) of snow falling n the previous 72 hours. Chapa Verde reports 30cm (a foot) of snow but that it’s waiting for more before it opens.
Back across the Atlantic, the southern half this time, South Africa’s Tiffindell and Lesotho’s Afriski have had a dusting of fr4esh snow, but Tiffindell is the only one of the two that’s open, with a 175m long snow run and 60cm of mostly machine made snow.
In Australia there’s hope of more fresh snow later today and during the rest of the week. 16 lifts are expected to be in operation across Perisher and Blue Cow tomorrow with snow depths of up to 48cm (19 inches). The Australian Weather Bureau has forecast snow to fall above 1500m tomorrow, which is great news given Perisher village sits at 1720m. Mt Buller has nine lifts open with good cover on firm packed snow across the open runs. There’s a natural snow base of 33cm (13 inches), and an average of 47cm (17 inches) in the snowmaking areas.
New Zealand continues to have a great early season, already four weeks old for some areas there but others are still opening. Bright sunshine, excellent snow cover and all lifts operating made for a beautiful day in the mountains at The Remarkables ski area near Queenstown in New Zealand for the start of their 2009 winter season on Saturday. It was all smiles at the alpine resort as people drove up through the low cloud over Queenstown to discover the mountains bathed in sunshine. Early birds were welcomed with a glass of Lindauer bubbles to celebrate the occasion while mascots Spike and Shred entertained the young and not-so- young. Ski Area Manager Ross Lawrence said the opening was the best in years. "It was an awesome day. Just one of those beautiful days with excellent snow and everything running the way it should be. There was a laid back atmosphere with music on the deck, kids with their faces painted and people really enjoying the day. We were able to open all lifts including the shuttle for Homeward Run, which we thought was a pretty good effort for opening day". The Dirty Dog Terrain Park and Tararua Ice Coffee Mini Park were also open with a full range of features on offer. "The feedback on snow cover, quality and terrain available has been awesome", said Mr Lawrence. "It was also great to see people using the FReemarkables bus service. The bus drivers reported strong numbers and the feedback is that people are finding the service easy and stress free", both in New Zealand. Cardrona Alpine Resort is next on the list to kick off its 2009 season this Friday (26 June) welcoming skiers and boarders to enjoy what they are reporting to be the best opening snow conditions in over a decade, the resort will open all facilities and 100% of their extensively groomed trails. "We’re expecting a good turn out from locals and visitors raring to get their first turns and jumps in for the season", said Nadia Ellis Cardrona sales and marketing manager. "A lot of work has gone into ensuring conditions are at their best and the mountain looks great with top to bottom pristine snow coverage". For the 2009 season Cardrona has made many improvements including expansion of the terrain with a new trail down Arcadia Basin for more advanced skiers and boarders. The 22-foot half pipe has been primed for visitors and ready to host major events this season including the Burton New Zealand Open, NZ Freeski Open and Winter Games NZ. Meanwhile excitement is snowballing at Coronet Peak as the ski area gears up for the 35th Queenstown Winter Festival which opens this Friday, June 26. As the festival’s mountain home, Coronet Peak will host a range of events with mountain bikes and dogs joining the skiers and riders on the snow. Ski Area Manager Hamish McCrostie said mountain staff were looking forward to winter festival’s opening party. "We’ve had such a great start to the season so far and we’re really looking forward to hosting a fantastic line up of festival events", he said. "Skiers and riders are enjoying superb conditions and we’re in great shape to welcome the community and our visitors for fun, social and sporting events". Coronet Peak’s festival celebrations get underway with the Browns Mountain Bikes on Snow event on Saturday, followed by a breakfast like no other on Monday. Night Skiing for the 09 winter season kicks off on Friday July 3 as part of the mountain party that is the Grabaseat Mountain Mayhem and skiing and riding under lights will also be on offer on Saturday July 4. The epic Queenstown Winter Festival Rail Jam (July 5) will see Queenstown’s hottest snowboarders and skiers performing top tricks under the watchful eyes of a buzzing crowd and stoked up by top DJs. The party doesn’t stop there because the rail jam turns into the Festival Closing Party, where an adrenalin-pumping aerobatics and parapenting display will close the festival in style. "The festival is a long running celebration of the start of winter for us and a time when we welcome skiers and non skiers alike to the mountain to enjoy the lighter side of winter", said Mr McCrostie.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ischgl Cart Trophy

On 26th and 27th June 2009, the 3rd Ischgl Cart Trophy will bring Formula 1 feeling to the Tyrol. The event is open and those with courage and skill can form a racing team and fight against the pros. 30 teams, each with six to eight drivers, race through the middle of Ischgl in mini racing cars. On the 600 metre long circuit at the base station of the Silvrettabahn, racing carts will be competing for every place at speeds of up to 90 km/h. Pit lanes, warm up and a qualifying round provide an authentic Grand Prix atmosphere. After the training and qualification rounds on Friday, the fastest teams will take part in a spectacular flood-lit night race for victory on the Saturday and in the process will transform the village centre around the base station of the Silvrettabahn into a race track, including pit lanes and an audience area. Companies and individuals who wish to take part in the Ischgl Cart Trophy can form their own racing team and compete against the celebrity teams. Participation, including a pit crew, racing outfits (racing suit, helmet, shoes, gloves), name-brand racing cart, mechanics, catering and numerous other services, can be booked for teams of six to eight drivers each at Stars, celebs and people with style are catered to with "Rotation", the new party concept from the Art of Cart series. In any case, the night of 27th June will be characterised by highlights and hits at the highest level. This will be taken care of by, among others, by the fantastic sounding and lovely to look at Natascha Wright who will be treating us to jazz and pop with her unmistakeable voice. THE dance floor artist who is guaranteed to be a hit, Dr Alban will warm up the drivers and visitors just as surely as saxophone genius TOM X.

Lenzerheide Ski Resort to Host 2013 FIS Alpine World Cup Finals

At its meeting last week in the host city for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, the International Ski Federation (FIS) Council decided by a large majority to support the decision of its Alpine Committee to award the 2013 FIS Alpine World Cup Finals to the Swiss ski resort of Lenzerheide. Lenzerheide is a mountain resort in the canton of Graubünden. The village lies at the foot of the Parpaner Rothorn in a broadened section of the valley between the cantonal capital Chur to the north and Tiefencastel, beyond which are the Julier Pass and St Moritz.
Lenzerheide is popular as skiing resort. The skiing area, managed by the Lenzerheide Bergbahnen AG, includes two sides of a valley with 34 modern ski lifts and 155 km (74 Blue, 62 Red and 19 Black pistes) of prepared slopes at a snow-reliable 1230 m to 2865 m above sea level .
The decision to award the 2013 Alpine Finals to Lenzerheide was accompanied by other scheduling decisions reached by the Council. At its meeting in Levi, Finland last November, the Council approved the FIS World Cup calendars for the 2009-10 ski racing season. In Vancouver, the Council approved some adjustments proposed by the respective Technical Committees and confirmed the final versions of the schedule.The Council also approved the Alpine Ladies World Cup calendars for 2010-11 and 2012-13 that were rejected by the Council at its meeting in Levi, following their revision by the Sub-Committee for the Alpine World Cup and the Alpine Committee in Croatia.On proposal of the Hungarian Ski Association to change the rules for the qualification races at the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, the Council approved the proposal of the Alpine Committee to establish a working group to study the matter and to find a solution for the benefit of global interest of alpine skiing.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fredrik Ericsson K2 Ski Expedition 2009

After seven days of trekking up the Baltoro Valley Fredrik Ericsson finally reached the base camp of K2. This is where the climbing on K2 starts and his home for the next six weeks.
From Skardu they drove Landrovers on very small and bumpy roads to a village called Askole. The drive was six hours long and one of the scariest Fredrik have ever had. At one point they had to go through a small waterfall. The road was only as wide as the car. On one side was a rock wall and on the other was a hundred meters drop down to the river. The road was muddy from all the water and on his first try they got stuck in the mud and had to back up. The second try they had to touch the rock wall not to slide off the road. Fortunately they had a good driver and made it through. He was happy to arrive in Askole in one peace. That car ride was probably be more scary than anything they will face on K2.
To get all the equipment and food for six weeks up to K2 they had to hire porters. The farmers from Askole were happy to help them out. So happy that they almost started fighting about the loads. It was a bit chaotic before they had distributed the 40 loads to the porters. Unfortunately there where some guys that showed hoping to get work that didn't get any. Hopefully they will get some when the next expedition shows up.
The trek up the Baltoro Valley is a long walk. They hiked for six days and about 5-6 hours every day on small or non existing trails. It was rocks, sand and ice in an uneven mix. Fredrik's feet were not exactly happy after six hours of walking on rocks and glaciers. About halfway on the trek the porters wanted a break so they had one rest day in a camp called Paiju. The Guide had brought a live Goat for food. With Fredrik's stomach problems he wasn't so hungry for goat meat, neither was Michele so they gave it to the porters. They got very happy and had a little meatfest on the rest day in Paiju.
The higher up they got the better the views got. They passed some great mountains like the Trango Towers, Mustagh Tower and Masherbrum. The experience culminated at Concordia. From that great junction of glaciers you can view some of the finest mountains in the world: Mitre Peak, Gasherbrum 4, Broad Peak and K2. If you go there in beginning of June when there's not much people, like they did, it's a truly amazing place. From Concordia they had a five hours walk up the Godwin Austen Glacier to K2 base camp, including a tea break with two Austrian climbers at Broad Peak base camp.
Now they are at the Base Camp and they are getting ready to start climbing on K2, the mountain of Fredrik's dreams.

Marathon du Mont-Blanc (Chamonix)

This weekend the Cross & Marathon du Mont-Blanc will take place in Chamonix. On Saturday the Cross du Mont-Blanc for junior runners, a mini cross for children and a 10 kilometres introduction course (Cross Decouverte) for newcomers to this type of race, will take place.
On Sunday the Marathon race (42,195kilometres, 2445 metres of positive drop and 1480m of negative drop) starts from the centre of Chamonix (1035m). Then the route steadily climb towards the upper valley, progressively passing through the hamlets of "Les Bois" and Lavancher to reach Argentière (1250m). Afterwards cross the "Col des Montets" (1461m) in the heart of the Aiguilles Rouges Nature Reserve. Then along the "Chemin des Diligences", the old stage-coach route, runners will arrive at the hamlet of Buet before reaching Vallorcine (1260 m). Heading towards the Col des Posettes (1997 m) participants will be rewarded with a splendid view of the Mont-Blanc massif. Opposite the ‘Aiguille Verte' and the massif, the route gradually descend back down across the mountain passes to reach Charamillon (1850m), where the gradient increases until the village of Tour (1453 m). It became relatively flat on the road to Montroc (1382 m), before traversing the hamlets of Frasserands and Tré-le-champ. At the heart of the Aiguilles Rouges massif, opposite the Mont-Blanc range, the route climbs up towards la Flégère (1875 m). After crossing the magnificent Charlanon coomb (1812m) the gradient increases until just before the finishing line at Planpraz (2050 m).

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Foot of Fresh Snow in France, 2 Feet in Australia, As Both Open For Summer

Skiinfo reports that there’s been fresh snow in the Alps, Scandinavia and the southern hemisphere in the past week, where most resorts in Australia and New Zealand are now open.
The snow slopes of France are also open again after a month of closure. Les 2 Alpes is the first of the country’s three summer ski areas to open and the resort reported a 30cm (12 inch) fall of fresh snow a few days before it opened last Saturday (June 13). Snow depth at the 3200m high glacier at 180cm (six feet) and there are about a dozen runs open as well as the world class terrain park and half pipe. Tignes is due to open this weekend and Val d’isere the weekend after with all three areas scheduled to stay open until the last week of July, conditions permitting.
Austria continues to have the most ski areas to choose from of any country in the northern hemisphere with four glacier ski centres open following the end of the long season of the Stubai glacier last weekend. A fifth centre, the Molltal Glacier, will open this weekend on Saturday 20th. The Kaunertal glacier has reported 8cm (over three inches) of fresh snow in the past week, taking base depths up to a metre (40 inches), and there’s one lift running there serving a terrain park. The Kitzsteinhorn glacier above Kaprun has re-opened after a short closure period and is expecting fresh snow at the weekend. It it is currently open right down to the Alpincentre with a big snowbase depth difference from over three metres (10 feet) at the top down to 37cm (15 inches) at the base of the ski slopes. Tux continues to have the largest ski area open in the country with a 325cm (11 foot) base and 23km (14 miles) served by 7 lifts with a 690m vertical. The Dachstein glacier currently has a 50cm (20 inch) snow base and two lifts open serving limited skiing and a beginner’s terrain park.
Italy has three ski areas open following the reopening of Val Senales last weekend. Snow depths vary between 120 and 200cm (4-7 feet) on the glacier. Val Senales follows Passo Stelvio, which re-opened at the start of June. The Presana glacier above Passo Tonale remains open, as it has been since last autumn – boasting some of the deepest snow in the world at up to six metres (20 feet) throughout last winter. That snow base is thawing now but remains substantial and there are two red and one black run on it to enjoy.
In Switzerland only Zermatt is currently open, and it has switched to running the highest lifts in Europe, at up to 3899m altitude on the Glacier Mountain Paradise. Long red and blue runs are open right down to Trockner Steg with new plus temperatures IDE snowmaking system providing a summer snow connection guarantee at the bottom of the area. Zermatt’s lift-served summer ski vertical remains greater that that available at the largest southern hemisphere resorts.
In Scandinavia three glacier ski centres are open and one of these, Stryn, has reported 2cm (nearly an inch) of fresh snow in the past 48 hours, topping up its two metre (nearly seven foot) base. Folgefonn is reporting the deepest snow base anywhere at present with a 450cm (15 foot) accumulation to slide on. Galdhoppigen, the third option, has a 150cm (five foot) base.
With Whistler Blackcomb currently closed and Mammoth, the last ‘regular’ ski resort without summer skiing in North America, finally calling it a day on its long, long 2008-9 season on Sunday (June 14) only the near-year-round ski centre at Timberline is providing lift-served skiing this week. Conditions at the historic Oregon ski area are looking good with a 251cm (over 8 feet) base ) served by two chairlifts. Summer skiing at the top of Blackcomb Mountain’s Horstman Glacier is due to open to the public from this Saturday, June 20, through to the end of July (dependent upon weather). It is accessed via the Wizard Express Chair at the Blackcomb Base. This summer there will be double the terrain park features over previous years and a Superpipe. Summer glacier camps bring in professional athletes to coach aspiring skiers and riders, and attract ski and snowboard magazines and professional film crews from around the world.
In South America the ski slopes or Argentina and Chile are due to begin opening at the weekend, although warm weather and rain may delay the first ski runs opening (Some centres that were due to open last weekend are yet to do so).
Across the Atlantic in South Africa the ski season is in to its second week at Tiffindell however, with a 175m (600 feet) long ski run in action and a snow base of 60cm (two feet). In Neighbouring Lesotho however, the Afri-ski centre has decided against opening for the 2009 season so far, the centre released a statement saying, "Due to unusually high temperatures and insufficient natural snowfall over the past few days Afri-ski has made the difficult decision to delay opening in order to protect the snow for the remainder of the season".
Further south, several of Australia’s ski areas opened with little or no snow on June 5th/6th, but that has all changed in the past week with snow falling at most centres, leading to excellent early –season conditions. Perisher opened its Mt Perisher ski slopes last week reporting conditions for this early in the season, "the best in a decade". The resort had received 58cm (almost two feet) of fresh snow since Sunday 7 June and thanks also to Perisher’s $19 million snowmaking expansion, Saturday 13 June saw Towers Run on Mt Perisher open for skiing and boarding. Ten lifts are currently operating across Perisher Valley and Smiggin Holes and the PlayStation Slopestyle course on Front Valley now contains a 20-foot table top in addition to other impressive features. "There is a nice light, dry cover of snow on the slopes and with more snow expected over the coming days, lowering to 1500m", said a resort spokesperson (Perisher village sits at 1720m). At a second Australian resort, Mt Buller, the Skyline terrain park and half pipe open for the first time this season at the weekend. "With half a metre of natural snow depth and 58cm in our extensive man made areas, conditions are excellent for hitting the slopes today", said a spokesperson for the resort. "This kind of weather; sunny skies, light wind, a balmy 3 degrees, calls for a long lunch on a deckchair at one of our mountain restaurants before heading back out to the slopes". At Mt Hotham six lifts are open and snowmaking continues, "What a great first week of the season we have had with over 38cm of natural snowfall at Hotham blanketing the resort in white flakes. Cold temperatures have provided perfect conditions for snowmaking with our snowguns firing up most days including an epic 66 hour straight run". Along with some natural snowfall last week, the ability to open the Village Loop can be greatly attributed to Hotham's Snowmaking team who have pumped out 43,943 cubic metres (4394 truckloads) of snow over the last four days.
Conditions continue to be good at New Zealand where early opening at some areas means some areas are already in to their second or third weeks of the 2009 season. The latest resort to join them, The Remarkables (picture attached), will open this Saturday (20 June), and the pre-season snow means all lifts and the terrain parks will be open for season kick off. The ski area received 10cm (four inches) more fresh snow yesterday (Tuesday 16 June) and is enjoying a solid average base of 75cm (2.5 feet). More snow is forecast for later today (Wednesday 17 June) which bodes well for an awesome opening on Saturday, according to Ross Lawrence, Ski Area Manager. "We’re excited to announce that our main terrain parks, the Dirty Dog Terrain Park and Tararua Iced Coffee Beginner Park, will be open from Saturday as a result of great pre-season conditions", said Mr Lawrence. "Our terrain park crew have been having some fun over the last couple of weeks completing the set up of the parks at The Remarks (...) We’re pretty stoked to be able to open Shadow Basin on day one with plenty of snow, and also the Homeward Run and shuttle service", he said.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fredrik Ericsson K2 Ski Expedition 2009

After days without news Today I received Fredrik Ericsson's update. He had some problems but now he have internet access again and the updates will come regularly.
Fredrik arrived in Islamabad last Sunday without any problems. Fredrik didn’t miss any flights, all his bags arrived, even the gear that Fredrik sent by cargo a couple of weeks ago was in Islamabad waiting for him. Chocking!
But as always, some things doesn't go as planned. Fredrik's climbing partner Michele was the one who got into trouble. When Fredrik was about to board the plane in Frankfurt he got an sms from Michele saying: "Do you have Pakistan Visa? I stop in airport because I don’t have Visa". Apparently Michele had forgot to get the Visa that one needs to enter Pakistan. That turned out to be a small problem. Michele went to the Embassy of Pakistan in Milano last Monday and got the Visa in one day and could get on a plane for Pakistan two days later. So today when he joined Fredrik here in Skardu they could just laugh about that incident.
A much less entertaining thing was the news they got from the Ministry of Tourism. The other day Fredrik went there on what he thought was the regular "sign some papers and smile" exercise and he would walk away with the climbing permit for K2 and trekking permit for Laila Peak. But that was not the case. They got the climbing permit for K2 alright but they didn't give us the trekking permit to go to Laila Peak. He tried to ask them why and the funny thing was that they didn't have an answer. They just said NO. They put in a second application for the trekking permit but it didn't help. The answer was the same. Fredrik is very disappointed that they can't go to Laila Peak since that, along with K2, was the big goal of this trip. It's hard to see anything positive in that now but he guess in a few days he might find something.
Other than that he has started to feel some movements in his stomach and lost his appetite. Fredrik must have caught some sort of bug which is not uncommon when you travel to Pakistan. So far it's not so bad and he has started to eat antibiotics. Hopefully it will be all gone in a few days.
The good things then.. Well, they were on the way towards K2. It has been Fredrik's dream for many years now and finally it is happening. So things could be worse. A few days ago they went by car to Askole and from there they started the six days long trek towards K2 base camp. They arrived in base camp around June 11.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Telluride Ski Resort. The Perfect Setting for a Wedding

Destination weddings have become a popular trend in travel. Now ski resorts join the list of popular destination wedding locations.
The Telluride Ski Resort is gaining recognition nationally and internationally as the ideal venue for destination weddings. Spectacular sites provide the wedding party and guests with unparalleled mountain views, exceptional cuisine and cozy, intimate experiences. Telluride is truly the ultimate wedding retreat. Telluride Ski Resort is a Mountain Village located close to the town of Telluride, a former silver mining camp on the San Miguel River in the western San Juan Mountains (Colorado). Perched at 9,500 feet, Mountain Village is an intimate alpine enclave with luxury hotels and condominiums, stylish boutiques and innovative dining, creating the perfect setting for a wedding. The backdrop is picture-perfect, with breathtaking mountain vistas, aspen-blanketed forests and wildflower-studded meadows. Couples can choose from a historic church or a mountain top expanse for the walk down the aisle. Telluride and Mountain Village offer a variety of activities to turn any wedding day into a weekend affair, including skiing, snowshoeing and tubing in the winter and hiking, golf, biking and rafting in the summer.
The Top of Seven wedding site is an easy walk from the top of the San Sophia Gondola Station. This mountain top meadow is a favorite among local brides as it is outfitted with split log benches, a wedding platform and gazebo. A view of the Snuffles Range to the North and the famed Wilson’s to the South rounds out this exceptional location.
Gorrono Ranch is a renovated Basque sheepherder’s ranch from the 1800s set within the ski area boundaries. Gorrono Ranch features multiple outdoor decks for ceremonies and cocktail receptions, a large main lodge for sit down dinners, entertainment and dancing, and two smaller historical cabins perfect for the bride and groom’s personal dressing rooms. The rustic mountain lodge exudes elegance and boasts stunning views of the Wilson Peaks. The mountain setting is accessed by snow cat drawn sleigh in the winter months and a country road during the summer months. Guests are likely to see deer and elk out in the meadows, and during the ceremonies the only noise to be heard is the wind rustling through aspen leaves.
Allred’s restaurant is perched high at the gondola’s top station at 10,535 feet. With magnificent views of the surrounding 14,000 foot peaks framing Telluride to the north and the twinkling lights and rooftops of historic Telluride 1,800 feet below, Allred’s 12,000 square foot restaurant is truly exceptional. Allred’s features floor to ceiling windows, European inspired stacked rock walls and wood trusses, custom wine cabinets, an expansive dining room and an award winning wine selection. Since its inception in 2000, Allred’s has received praise and accolades from the culinary world including publications such as Food & Wine, Gourmet, USA Today, The New York Times, and Travel & Leisure. Allred’s also received the esteemed title of ‘Top Ten Best New Restaurants in America’ by Esquire Magazine.
Stashed among the highest concentration of 14,000 foot peaks in North America, Telluride’s breathtaking views are just a part of what makes Telluride stand out among mountain destinations. Historic buildings, quaint bakeries and local watering holes blend with luxury hotels, world class restaurants, sophisticated shops and spas. Telluride’s free gondola is the main source of transportation - so no traffic or long lines, and no driving once you’ve arrived. The friendly, open-hearted residents and genuine community spirit of Telluride shape a sense of inclusiveness and belonging that everyone can experience and enjoy. Touting the combination of awe-inspiring views, world-class terrain, Rocky Mountain snow, an easygoing town and hassle-free destination, Telluride is truly unmatched in North America.

Friday, June 12, 2009

2009 Burton New Zealand Open

The Burton New Zealand Open is an established annual event within the Burton family. With 6 years already under its belt, the New Zealand Open kick-starts Burton's 2010 Global Open Series.
Some of the world's best snowboarders will once again return to the land of flat whites and the All Blacks for the sixth annual Burton New Zealand Open Snowboarding Championships, taking place from August 11-15 at Cardrona Alpine Resort in the heart of Southern Lakes Region. At this year's New Zealand Open, spectators can expect to see Olympic hopefuls fine-tuning their halfpipe runs for Vancouver in Cardrona Olympic-size superpipe.
The first stop on the 2009/2010 Burton Global Open Series and a Swatch TTR 5Star event, the New Zealand Open will include slopestyle and halfpipe competitions, offering riders the chance to earn a piece of the NZ$50,000 prize purse and gain valuable points towards Burton Global Open Series championship titles and the Swatch Ticket To Ride World Tour championship titles.
The festivities will kick off on Monday, August 10 with a free opening party featuring Sunshine Soundsystem in Queenstown, NZ at the Skyline Gondola, followed by an after party at Rattlesnake Bar. Competition will get underway on Wednesday, August 12 with men's slopestyle prequalification and qualifications, followed by the women's slopestyle qualifiers. On Thursday, August 13, the men's halfpipe prequalification and qualification rounds will go down, followed by women's halfpipe qualifications. The Gravis Open Sessions will also kick off on August 13 with music from Black Sun Empire (NL), State of Mind and Truth at the Lake Wanaka Center, followed by an after party at Postoffice Lane. All eyes will be on the slopestyle course on Friday, August 14 for men's and women's slopestyle semifinals and finals. Later, the action will move to Wanaka for the first annual "Fight Night" at the Lake Wanaka Center, where riders will duke it out UFC-style for the title. An after party will follow at Postoffice Lane. The 22 foot superpipe at Cardrona Alpine Resort, the same size halfpipe that will be featured at the 2010 Winter Olympics, will be the locale for the men's and women's halfpipe semifinal and final competitions on Saturday, August 15. In the evening, Tiki Live and DJ Reno will wrap up the week's festivities with the final act of the Gravis Sessions, taking place at the Lake Wanaka Center followed by an after party at Postoffice Lane.

Deer Valley Announces Summer Concerts

A diverse array of outdoor musical events has become the main rhythm of summer at Deer Valley’s beautiful Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater.
Deer Valley guests have come to expect a full repertoire of musical performances including the Utah Symphony’s Deer Valley Music Festival; the Park City Performing Art Foundation’s St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights Outdoor Concert Series; the Park City Jazz Festival produced by the Park City Jazz Foundation; the Community Summer Concert Series presented by Mountain Town Stages and select shows produced by United Concerts. Resort Director of Marketing Coleen Reardon said, "we love that we can offer world-class entertainment right here at home to both locals and destination visitors in a beautiful, relaxed outdoor setting".
Utah Symphony/Utah Opera’s Sixth annual Deer Valley Music Festival will return in 2009 with four weeks of performances in the picturesque setting of Park City, Utah, July 17 through August 15. For the past five years, DVMF has brought the best Pops, Classical, and Chamber performances to the mountains of Park City. 2009 Deer Valley Music Festival performances include: Frederica von Stade with the Utah Symphony on Friday, July 17; ABBA: The Symphonic Hits on Saturday, July 18; Tales of Scheherazade on Friday, July 24; LeAnn Rimes with the Utah Symphony on Saturday, July 25; Mozart Violin Concerto No. 3 on Friday, July 31; 1812 Overture on Saturday, August 1; Peter and the Wolf on Friday, August 7 ; Bravo Broadway on Saturday, August 8; Rhapsody in Blue on Friday, August 14 and Elvis Costello with the Utah Symphony on Saturday, August 15. Utah Symphony will also perform "Patriotic Favorites" at Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater on Saturday, July 4.
The St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights Outdoor Concert Series, presented by Park City Performing Arts Foundation, will also be held at Deer Valley’s Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater this summer. This summer’s lineup will include Blood, Sweat and Tears on July 3; Simone with Ryan Shaw on August 2; Madeleine Peyroux and Lucy Wainwright Roche on August 16; Chuck Berry with special guest TBA on August 29 and Robert Earl Keen with John Doe and Jill Sobule on September 7.
The Park City Jazz Festival, now in its 12th year, will take place at Deer Valley from August 21 – 23, 2009. Deer Valley’s Outdoor Amphitheater will host nationally renowned and emerging jazz musicians. Current scheduled acts include: Al Jarreau, Poncho Sanchez, Sean O’Bryan Smith, Anna Wilson with Jazz Your Azz Band, Nicholas Payton with the Park City All Stars, Brain Bromberg with the Crescent Super Band and Esperanza Spalding. The Park City Jazz Festival features, on-going, non-stop entertainment, a Festival Village full of artisan, music, book and local business vendors and a beer garden. Educational programs are a very important part of the Festival, involving everyone from top-level performing artists to disadvantaged youth. An education day at the Festival allows students to play with world-class performers.
Deer Valley welcomes the Frontier Bank Community Concert Series presented by Mountain Town Stages for a sixth summer season. Ample parking, easy access and the sizeable grassy seating area make this concert series a staple of Park City’s weekly social life. The event is free and features local musical acts every Wednesday night, June 24 to August 26, from 6 to 8 p.m.This year’s lineup is: Rich Wyman on June 24; The Swinging Richards on July 1; Fat Paw on July 8; The Soul Survivors on July 15; Swagger on July 22; Mary Beth on July 29; Dr. Bob on August 5; Sin City Soul on August 12; Coverdogs featuring Tony Oros on August 19; and the Detonators on August 26. Utah-based United Concerts will also be featuring Jackson Browne on August 25.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Dozen Ski Areas Still Open In Northern Hemisphere as More Open In The Southern

Skiinfo reports that although it may be approaching midsummer, more ski areas have actually opened for snow sports in the past week than closed, and the number of countries offering snow sports has also increased, with Australia and South Africa beginning their 2009 season. France and Canada will re-open for summer skiing in the next few weeks taking the number of countries with ski areas open back in to double figures! However after last week’s new snow in Austria and Norway, no fresh snow has been reported in the northern hemisphere in the past seven days.
In Austria three glacier ski areas are currently open at Dachstein, Kaunertal and Tux and the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier re-opens on the 10th. Tux has the largest ski area with a 325cm (11 foot) base and 23km (14 miles) served by 7 lifts with a 690m vertical.
In Switzerland only Zermatt is open with Saas Fee due to re-open shortly and reporting a 370cm (over 12 foot) snow base waiting on the glacier.
France re-opens for snow sports on Saturday when the glacier ski area at Les 2 Alpes opens for summer skiing.
In Italy the Presena Glacier remains open with two red and one black run open and the Passo Stelvio glacier is also now open. There are unconfirmed reports that the Marmolada Glacier may re-opewn for summer skiing this season too.
In Scandinavia it’s the last few days of Snowsports at Finland’s Ruka, which was one of the first resorts to open in Europe last October and is clocking up a 200+ day season. One run is open until at least June 11th. Norway has the biggest choice in the region with three glacier areas to choose from at Stryn, Folgefonn and Galhoppigen, all with healthy snow bases.
In the US, with Arapahoe Basin in Colorado closing last Sunday (June 7th) and Snowbird deciding to close even earlier than that, having retreated from it's originally expected extended season date due to warm weather, only Mammoth in California and Timberline in Oregon remain open. For Mammoth this is probably the last week of the season, although it may still remain open after the scheduled closing date of this Sunday, June 14th. The resort currently has a base of 60-120cm (2-4 feet). "There is only a week left to enjoy skiing and snowboarding in Mammoth for the season so now is the time to head up. Mammoth Mountain is currently operating chairs from 7:30am to 1:00pm daily. The 8am temp at Main Lodge this morning was 48 degrees with light winds. Up at the summit, the 8am temp was 36 degrees with light winds. As of 8am, Broadway Express, Face Lift Express and Chair 23 are running out of Main Lodge", said a resort statement on Monday. Snowbird released a statement last week saying they wouldn't open last weekend as they'd hoped,"Due to recent warm temperatures, rain and rapid snowpack melting in the past week, Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort announced today that they are closed for the 2008/09 season, and will not be reopening this weekend as previously planned". Snowcat operators had worked on some areas of Little Cloud that had very little snow, large rocks and, in one case, a small river but unfortunately, they were not able to ensure enough coverage for safe, skiable terrain. The Little Cottonwood Canyon resort received 621 inches of snowfall this season and offered skiing and riding for 194 days, the longest in Utah. "Despite our plans and the hard work of our snowcat operators, we won't be able to offer any more skiing and riding this spring. The recent rain and warm temperatures have dropped the snowpack more than we expected", said Snowbird President Bob Bonar. Timberline in Oregon will once again be North America's main summer ski capital after Mammoth closes. North of the border there are no ski areas currently open although glacier skiing will resume at Whistler Blackcomb in two weeks, weather permitting.
In the southern hemisphere Australia’s major ski areas opened with scant snow cover on Saturday, June 6th – the traditional opening weekend. After the unexpected large pre-season snowfalls a month ago, temperatures had risen and the snow melted, leaving limited machine made snow enough for snowball fights and snowman building at most areas and a nursery slope at Perisher. However the situation improved through the weekend as temperatures dropped below zero and fresh snowfall came in. 21cm (8.5 inches) of fresh snow settled in Perisher village on Sunday night (7 June) and across Perisher's four mountain areas, allowing top to bottom skiing and snowboarding on Front Valley on Monday. Light snow flurries began to settle in the resort throughout Sunday and as the mercury levels continued to drop overnight, Perisher's Mountain Operations Department fired up 95 snow guns across parts of Perisher Valley and Blue Cow Mountain adding to the growing base. This enabled the Village Eight Express, Australia's only 8-seat chairlift to make its season debut on Monday. "It has been a fantastic start to the season. We've had fresh snowfalls and guests have flocked to the resort in the thousands and we've sold hundreds of lesson and lift packages", commented Nathan Butterworth Perisher's Resort Services Manager. Other Australian ski areas have also reported fresh snow. Mt Buller reported 8cm (3.5 inches) falling overnight with the snow continuing to fall. It hopes to open its ski runs next weekend. Natural snowfalls are forecast to continue for the next few days (lowering to 800 metres on Wednesday 10 June). Mt Ruapehu became the latest New Zealand ski area to open two weeks early, when the first skiers hit the slopes there on Saturday as good weather followed heavy snowfall. The mountain contains two ski areas under joint ownership, Whakapapa and Turoa, it’s the earliest the latter has ever opened. Over in Queenstown, Coronet Peak (picture attached) also opened on June 6th following favourable cold weather and consistent snowfalls. Ski Area Manager Hamish McCrostie said, "We have a great upper mountain average snow base of 80cm and lower mountain average of 50cm and we’re expecting more snow later in the week. The mountain is covered, our crew are all on board and we’re absolutely ready to get into the 09 winter season". Refining and improving nature’s contribution, Coronet Peak’s state-of-the-art snowmaking system is more efficient this year with the addition of a new water reservoir and new pumps. "We have expanded our snowmaking capacity this year and also have two new groomers joining our modern fleet perfecting the slopes", Mr McCrostie added.
Elsewhere in the southern hemisphere, South Africa’s Tiffindell resort is now open with a 5660cm (Two foot) base and a 75m long ski run to enjoy.
Resorts in South America are scheduled to open this weekend. Valle Nevado will open on Saturday 13th.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

New CEO for Sochi 2014

Citing costs and construction issues in the preparation for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin replaced Olimpstroi CEO Viktor Kolodyazhny Saturday with Taimuraz Bolloyev, who joined Olimpstroi as Vice president in January.
Sochi 2014 faces the most difficult task of all Olympic history. Never before has an Olympic site started with so little: Basic infrastructure and an entirely new alpine ski center (the Roza Khutor ski resort) must be built from scratch.
Bolloev was appointed President of the Olympstroy State Corporation, responsible for delivering venues and infrastructure for Sochi 2014, when his predecessor Viktor Kolodyazhny asked to transfer to another role that is permanently based in Krasnodar Region.
According to the press release Bolloev, one of Russia's most respected business leaders, has overseen a major acceleration in development for Sochi 2014 in the last two months as acting head, while his predecessor Viktor Kolodyazhny was dealing with personal matters which have resulted in him stepping down from his position.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin thanked Kolodyazhny for his efforts and underlined to Bolloev the importance of paying close attention to budgets and schedule of development.
Dmitry Kozak, Deputy Minister of Russia responsible for overseeing Sochi 2014 preparations said, "due to personal circumstances Viktor Kolodyazhny has asked to transfer to another role that is permanently based in the Krasnodar Region. Taymuraz Bolloev is known as one of the top managers in the country. His profile and respectability will help him to fulfil the main function of Olympstroy, which is to coordinate and control the contribution of all participants in the Olympic project from the State involvement through to private investors".
Kozak said Sochi 2014 is a national priority for Russia, and that the project is 100 per cent on track. He expressed confidence that Taymuraz Bolloev is an excellent manager and that the Olympic venue and infrastructure development project is in safe hands. Kolodyazhny said he was proud of the progress made in the first phase of development of Sochi 2014, suggesting that SC Olympstroy has an excellent leadership team in place and is very stable as a corporation with Taymuraz Bolloev already leading the delivery of significant recent progress.
Sochi 2014 is nearing completion of its design and engineering phase of preparations, in line with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Master Plan, and will shortly enter the fully fledged construction phase on schedule, said the press release.
Located between the golden shores of the Black Sea and the soaring snow-capped Caucasus mountains, Sochi is a multicultural city of 400,000 inhabitants with a distinct Russian flavor.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Australia Joins New Zealand As More Southern Hemisphere Resorts open for Winter 2009

More of New Zealand’s ski areas opened at the weekend, joining Mt Hutt in enjoying a great start to the winter after a snowy May. In Australia the country’s major ski areas opened although with scant snow cover on Saturday, June 6th – the traditional opening weekend.
After the unexpected large pre-season snowfalls a month ago, temperatures had risen and the snow melted, leaving limited machine made snow enough for snowball fights and snowman building at most areas and a nursery slope at Perisher.
However the situation improved through the weekend as temperatures dropped below zero and fresh snowfall came in. 21cm (8.5 inches) of fresh snow settled in Perisher village on Sunday night (7 June) and across Perisher's four mountain areas, allowing top to bottom skiing and snowboarding on Front Valley on Monday.
Light snow flurries began to settle in the resort throughout Sunday and as the mercury levels continued to drop overnight, Perisher's Mountain Operations Department fired up 95 snow guns across parts of Perisher Valley and Blue Cow Mountain adding to the growing base. This enabled the Village Eight Express, Australia's only 8-seat chairlift to make its season debut on Monday.
"It has been a fantastic start to the season. We've had fresh snowfalls and guests have flocked to the resort in the thousands and we've sold hundreds of lesson and lift packages", commented Nathan Butterworth Perisher's Resort Services Manager.
Other Australian ski areas have also reported fresh snow. Mt Buller reported 8cm (3.5 inches) falling overnight with the snow continuing to fall. It hopes to open its ski runs next weekend.
Natural snowfalls are forecast to continue for the next few days (lowering to 800 metres on Wednesday 10 June)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Colorado Ski Season Ends Today

Arapahoe Basin will close for the season after Sunday, ending the Colorado downhill ski and snowboard season that began almost eight months ago.
Arapahoe Basin is situated high on the Continental Divide. It offers the highest skiable terrain in North America. The Summit County ski resort typically stays open longer than any other Colorado ski hill (typically opening in October and staying open until early June) because of its elevation, with a base at 10,780 feet above sea level and lifts topping out at 12,472 feet. As of Friday, Arapahoe Basin reported spring conditions and a 31-inch base, two of seven lifts in operation and 130 of 900 acres in operation. Only intermediate skiing is available on the mountain at this time.

First four Vancouver 2010 Olympic ticket designs Unveiled

Colourful, collectable, dynamic and secure — those are the words that best describe the sport and ceremonies tickets that Canadians and visitors from around the world will use at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
The first four Olympic ticket designs — for the Opening Ceremony, ice hockey, cross-country skiing and curling — were unveiled last Wednesday by the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) after months of design and security work. More than a million tickets will be printed and used at the Games in eight months time; ticket buyers will receive them in late 2009 when they are delivered securely by Purolator Courier.
To protect ticket buyers, a number of security features have been added to the souvenir-sized tickets, features that make the tickets similar to currency in their ability to foil counterfeiters. A bar code is the most obvious high-tech deterrent. VANOC has undertaken significant consumer education and protection initiatives, including a new "Buy Real" print advertising campaign — focused on tickets — that will run this Friday in selected markets. "We’ve worked hard to make these tickets as secure as possible to protect consumers, while at the same time making them attractive as they are often a treasured souvenir", explained Caley Denton, VANOC’s vice president, ticketing and consumer marketing. "For example, with our bar code, when a spectator arrives at one of our venues and we scan their ticket, we can tell where that ticket came from, how it was purchased and if it’s been invalidated because it’s been reported stolen or lost. We’ll also be able to spot counterfeit tickets and confiscate them".
The tickets will prominently display Vancouver 2010 pictograms and sport illustrations, as well as the venues. The sport illustrations — an Olympic and Paralympic Games first — were inspired by photography and give the athletes a heroic feel through a dynamic close-up view of their emotional facial expressions, intensity and athleticism.
Additionally, the organizers created entirely new illustrations for ceremonies tickets. For the Opening Ceremony image, a dark-haired female torchbearer approaches BC Place in downtown Vancouver in anticipation of the awe-inspiring lighting of the Olympic Cauldron, in front of a live crowd of 55,000 people and billions more watching around the world.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

4th Annual Trout Cook-off

Keystone Resort's 4th Annual Trout Cook-off, held this Saturday in the Colorado ski resort's Lakeside Village (directly behind the Keystone Lodge and Spa), is a family event with free admission and food from chefs competing for best "Trout Recipe." The event that kicks off the ski area's summer season and great entertainment with Radio Disney cookin' up fun with interactive games like Claw Catch, and dances like the Mackerel Macarena, Trout Twist and Electric Eel Slide. Guests will experience fishing derby activities, trout cooking demonstrations, and cuisine prepared by some of Keystone's best chefs. Fish served at this event are from sustainable sources. All plates cups and utensils are fully bio-degradable. Recycling containers are strategically placed throughout the event.
The day kicks-off at 9 a.m. with the Fishing Derby registration. The Derby is free and takes place during the week that fishing in Colorado is also free. Colorado residents and state visitors will have the opportunity to fish without a license on Saturday June 6th, and Sunday June 7th as part of the annual "Colorado Free Fishing Days". Keystone Guests should bring their gear to cast a line into the Snake River.
The free fishing days are set aside each year for the first full weekend in June as part of ongoing efforts by the Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) to introduce people to the sport of fishing. "We want people to take advantage of this opportunity, held each year in conjunction with National Fishing and Boating Week, to try and get outdoors with their family and friends and give fishing a try", said Debbie Lininger, Marketing Director. "The more people we can introduce to the wonderful recreational angling opportunities we have in Colorado, the better it will be for Colorado’s natural resources in the future".

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Fresh Snow For Europe’s Glacier Ski Areas As Southern Hemisphere’s 2009 Season Kicks Off

Skiinfo reports that the 2009 ski season has kicked off in the southern hemisphere with Mt Hutt in New Zealand the first resort to open. In North America skiing at the last Canadian resort open for snow sports, Whistler Blackcomb, has finished earlier than expected due to warm weather, but a handful of resorts are still open. More than a dozen ski centres are still open in Europe across six countries, with fresh snow reported in the past week at open glacier ski areas in Austria and Norway.
In Austria the Dachstein Glacier re-opened for snow sports at the weekend after a month of closure and it’s due to remain open now right through to Spring 2010. There’s extensive cross-country ski trails and 50cm (20 inch) snow base on the glacier. Downhill skiing and boarding is served by the Hunerkogellift and Austriaschartelifts. The Dachstein re-opening took Austria’s open ski area tally to five, up from a low of four in the latter half of May, but it’s back down to four for another week at least as the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier above Kaprun, which has a 348cm (11.5 foot) snow base is just entering an eight day closure period for maintenance through to Jun 10th when it re-opens. The Kaunertal Glacier has received another 14cm (seven inches) of fresh snow in the past week, taking its seasonal total since last autumn very close to the 10 metre mark (over 33 feet), on 984cm. Snow depth is 139cm (four and a half feet) on upper slopes at 3250m. On the Stubai Glacier near Innsbruck there are five lifts and five blue and red grade runs open on a 280cm (9.3 foot) base. The Hintertux glacier near Mayrhofen currently has one of the largest ski areas open with eight lifts operating serving 23km (14.5 miles) of terrain open including the ski-run down to Tuxer Ferner House at 2,660m. Snow depth is 325cm (11 feet).
It’s just ten days until the ski slopes re-open in France with Les 2 Alpes the first of the three remaining French summer ski areas (with Tignes and Val d’isere following ) to re-open on the 13th.
In the meantime the other two choices in the Alps are Italy and Switzerland. In Italy the two red and one black run on the Presena Glacier above Passo Tonale were joined last weekend by the re-opened Passo Stelvio summer ski area. Temperatures on the upper slopes have been hovering a few degrees below zero and fresh snow is expected there at the weekend. A third Italian summer ski area, Val Senales, is scheduled to open in 10 days on the 13th. With Saas Fee still closed the 365-day-a-year open snow slopes of Zermatt are the only lift-served skiing in Switzerland at present. Two long reds are currently open down from Furggsattel to Trockner Steg. These are not the highest ski runs in Europe that make up the resort’s usual summer ski area higher up the ‘Matterhorn Glacier Paradise’ ski slopes, but at the bottom of the area, 500 vertical metres below the main area.
In Scandinavia there’s still a week of skiing left at Finland’s Ruka, which was one of the first resorts to open in Europe last October and is clocking up a 200+ day season. One run is open until at least June 11th. Norway has the biggest choice in the region with three glacier areas to choose from at Stryn, Folgefonn and Galhoppigen. Of the three, Folgefonn has posted the most impressive statistics of the past seven days, reporting a fresh 70cm (over two feet) of snow for those lucky enough to be visiting. It has a 450cm (15 foot) snow base on the groomed piste.
Riksgransen’s midnight sun skiing days when the lifts opened from 10pm to around 1am in the 24 hour daylight at its northerly latitude ended on Sunday when it finished the season with a natural snow base of 79cm (2.5 feet).
Although public skiing has ended a few weeks ago in Spain, Europe’s most southerly ski resort is currently playing host to the Spanish Alpine Ski Team which is training on the slopes of the resort’s Veleta Mountain at 3000 metres. The Spanish national team coach, the Italian Marco Viale, said, "The snow conditions are extraordinary ... in the morning the snow quality is perfect hard-packed allowing skiers to train for at least three hours and that is really good for elite skiers. ... It is very important to be able to train in your own country. I hope this will help us to be ready for Vancouver 2010".
Elsewhere in the world as northern India is facing an intense heat wave, Rohtang Pass in India's northern state of Himachal Pradesh is proving popular with tourists escaping the heat of the plains. The 4,000m / 13,000-foot-high Pass was opened last week. It’s the highest point on one key road in the region and an important destination on the itinerary of tourists visiting the picturesque Kullu valley. A variety of adventure activities like ski scooters, snow tubes, skiing, sleigh and yak rides attract thousands of tourists here daily. Visitors are reported to be extremely excited about seeing snow in the middle of a summer season.
Across the Pacific in the US it’s the last few days of Arapahoe Basin’s ski season. The last open resort in Colorado will end its season this Sunday, June 7th, but can report 9cm (three inches) of fresh snow in the past 72 hours topping up its 80cm (32 inch) base. It currently has two lifts running. Snowbird in Utah, which is currently closed midweek and had previously said it expected to close on 15th June, an extended closing date, now appears to be planning to also close on June 7th. "At this time our available terrain is recommended for advanced to expert skiers and riders only", said a company spokesperson. Mammoth in California and Snowbird in Utah expect to stay operational for at least a week longer than that. Mammoth hasn’t had any fresh snow and skiing is on a 60-120cm (2-4 foot) base with 4 or 5 lifts operating. A fourth choice in the US is Timberline, Oregon which normally stays open for most of the year, except for a fortnight closed period in September. This currently has a 12 foot (360cm) base on the Palmer snowfield with lifts operating between 8am and 2.30pm. North of the border Whistler Mountain which had the last ski slopes in Canada still open for the 2008-9 season, closed for snow sports earlier than planned on Sunday, May 31st, two weeks ahead of the publicised closing date of June 14th. "Epic spring conditions that were enjoyed up until this past weekend have deteriorated very quickly over the past few days", says Bob Dufour, Whistler Blackcomb’s vice president of operations. "The snow quality is quickly diminishing and posing more hazards by the day. Looking at the warm weather and sunshine in the forecast, the conditions will obviously deteriorate further". A number of closures had already been forced, including popular runs in the Emerald zone such as Green Acres, Bobcat, Chipmunk and Beansprout. Deterioration of conditions has also required crews to close the terrain park located on the Upper Dave Murray; a few park features were relocated for the final days to upper Jolly Green Giant. Crews continued to work hard to maintain ski outs to the bottom of the Emerald and Red Chairs through to Sunday. In addition, the Peak Chair had to be closed intermittently last week due to high avalanche danger because of warming conditions. "Guest and employee safety is obviously our number one concern and there are just too many hazards that are emerging to operate safely. With a season as long as Whistler Blackcomb’s, it is always a race against the weather to the very end", continued Dufour. There’ll now be a near three week break for Canadian snow sports before glacier skiing begins on Blackcomb Mountain on Saturday, June 20th. A variety of ski and snowboard summer camps kick into high gear, and public skiing and riding will be available on the Horstman Glacier through July, weather permitting.
Meanwhile in the southern hemisphere sunny skies, bubbles and smiles all round were the hallmarks of the opening of the ski season at Mt Hutt in New Zealand for opening day on Saturday, May 30th More than 2000 Cantabrians and visitors to the region turned out to welcome the snow and celebrate skiing in May at Mt Hutt. The high country ski area opening was two weeks ahead of schedule as a result of early snow coverage. Ski Area Manager Dave Wilson says it was the first time the mountain had opened in May for more than a decade. "We have a one metre snow base which is phenomenal for this time of year. Getting the mountain open early has been a huge challenge for staff but we had a great day today making it well worth the effort". "Feedback and support from the local Methven community has been very much appreciated – everyone is delighted to be open early. It’s a fantastic start". First on the chair honours (picture attached), complete with t-shirts, went to Suzanne Fenwick, Ian Beale, Mike Roberson and Stef Waldon of Christchurch on the Quad while Ashburton’s Michael Borland, Michael Geddes, Benjamin Mort, Lance Cotter, Callum Brooker were first on the Summit Six along with 11-year-old Sophie Sinke of Christchurch. Lindauer flowed for the early birds and glasses raised to toast the 2009 season just on 9am as the chairs opened.
Mr Wilson said stormy weather bringing more snow was expected to hit the mountain tonight (Saturday) and Sunday with weather clearing again for Monday. "Today’s weather was really one out of the bag. The forecast wasn’t too flash so we were rapt to wake up to a bluebird day. Definitely life as it ought to be today". Mt Hutt is expected to remain open until early October. Coronet Peak in Queenstown is scheduled to open next Saturday, June 6 with The Remarkables following on Saturday June 20.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Fredrik Ericsson K2 and Laila Peak Ski Expedition 2009

This summer, Swedish extreme skier Fredrik Ericsson will embark on his dream of becoming the first person to ski the world’s three highest mountains: Mount Everest, K2 and Kangchenjunga.
Last Sunday, the Swedish extreme skier Fredrik Ericsson have reached Pakistan with his Italian friend Michele Fait to try to climb and ski the world’s second highest mountain K2 (8612m).
The expedition started on May 30 when he flyed to Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. They want to spend a few days in the city for meetings with the Pakistan Alpine club to organize climbing permit and with his trekking agency Karakurum Magic Mountain (KMM). KMM helps them with all the logistics in Pakistan and will set them up with a base camp team that will cook food for Michele and Fredrik when they are in base camp.
From Islamabad they have a one hour flight up north to Skardu, the last town before they hit the mountains. Skardu is his last opportunity to pick up gear and food that they need for the two months stay in the mountains. Epi gas for Primus stoves, chips and chocolate bars are some of the things they will buy in Skardu. From Skardu a five hours drive takes them to the small village of Hushe at the end of the road. From there on they will continue on foot. Around June 6 they start the two days trek towards Laila Peak.
Laila Peak is one of the most beautiful mountains in Pakistan - if not the world -with its summit forming a perfect needle shape. The peak is synonymous with its northwest face which drops down the mountains at almost uniform gradient forming a giant ramp. Its northern and eastern sides consist of contrasting steep granite. The mountain is located east of the Gondogoro glacier and west of the Chogolisa Glacier in the Masherbrum Mountains of Baltistan. Most people have set eyes on the peak after crossing the Gondogoro La from Concordia.
The first ascent was by a four man British team including Simon Yates, Sean Smith and Mark Miller who climbed the peak in 1987 via the west face from the Gondogoro Glacier. Simon Yates dedicated a chapter in his book The Flame of Adventure on the ascent of Laila Peak.
With approximately 1500m ascent the mountain can be climbed in alpine style in one day but many people will choose to bivi on route then summit and descend on the second day. Climbing is mid-grade with an inclination of no more than 55 degrees.
In 2005 Fredrik Ericsson and Jörgen Aamot made two attempts to climb and ski the northwest face of Laila Peak. On both occasions the top section was too icy to ski so they turned around at 5950m and skied down to the Gondogoro Glacier (4500m). Until this day no one has skied from the summit of Laila Peak.
This summer they will spend about two weeks on Laila Peak. It will be the perfect warm-up for K2 and hopefully they can ski from the summit this time.
K2 is the second highest mountain in the world and is located on the border between China and Pakistan. Reinhold Messner called K2 the "Mountain of Mountains" after his ascent in 1979. This pyramid of a mountain is right in the heart of the Karokoram Range and can be seen in its entirety from Concordia. It is at the head of the Godwin Austin Glacier which unites with a second glacier at Concordia to form the famous Baltoro Glacier. It is said to be the ultimate climb, since many consider it to be much more technically challenging than Mount Everest.
The name K2 is derived from the notation used by the Great Trigonometric Survey. On 10 September 1856, Thomas Montgomerie made the first survey of the Karakoram from Mount Haramukh, some 130 miles to the south, and sketched the two most prominent peaks, labeling them K1 and K2. In 1954 the Italians Lino Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni were the first to summit K2. They climbed the Abruzzi ridge. After the 2008 season K2 has been climbed 298 times but so far no one has managed to make a complete ski descent of K2.
K2 is known as the Savage Mountain due to the difficulty of ascent and the high fatality rate among those who climb it. For every four people who have reached the summit, one has died trying. Among the eight-thousanders, K2 has the second highest climbing mortality rate.
After Laila Peak Fredrik and Michele will arrive at K2 base camp around June 20. Then they will use about three weeks for acclimatization before they try for the summit. The route they will try to climb and ski is called The Cesen Route and is the south-southeast ridge.

Merkel confident about Munich 2018 Olympics Bid

Munich stands a good chance to host the 2018 Winter Olympics and has the full support of the German government, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday. "We believe that we have extremely good changes for Olympic Winter Games in the Munich region. The bid is of a national significance", Merkel said after a meeting with potential sponsors.
Merkel said the government was behind the bid, while Bavarian Prime Minister Horst Seehofer said he was confident that enough sponsors will be found despite the difficult economic situation.
The 2018 host city will be elected by the International Olympic Committee in 2011. Munich's rivals include South Korea's Pyeongchang, which narrowly lost out for 2010 and 2014.
Munich hosted the 1972 Summer Games and, if successful, would be the first city to stage summer and winter editions.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New Pan-European Ski Federation Launched

A new international ski body, the European Ski Federation (ESF), will stage its first event this autumn on the indoor snow slope of Amneville in Northern France.
The European Ski Federation has been established by the Austrian, French, Italian, and Swiss ski federations but they say they do not intend to compete with the International Ski Federation. "The four presidents of the founding governing bodies visited Monday" said Sarah Lewis, Secretary General of the FIS. "They explained their goal was to help each other deal with the financial crisis". She went on to say that the group expressed their desire to cooperate with the international governing body.
The newly formed European Ski Federation (ESF) was fashioned to have a "single voice in the interests of European skiing". According to Klaus Leistner, Secretary General of the Austrian Ski Federation, the European Union has funding available to launch the effort. The Alpine nations of central Europe planned to stand together in the face of the current economic crisis. The organisation intends to monitor and promote the development of European ski and snowboard sport and to organize and implement international ski and snowboard competitions at all levels.
Peter Schröcksnadel, President of the Austrian Federation who will head the upstart organization, said that the current economic situation dictated that the European central alpine nations stand together to help the ailing ski industry.
The ESF will deal with all aspects of skiing (alpine, nordic and snowboard). As stated the ESF mission includes the following points:
  • ESF will ensure that the needs of interested groups (associations, athletes, support staff, equipment) will be addressed
  • It will represent the European “ski family” companies
  • It will retain and foster cooperation with the FIS, the SRS (Ski Racing Suppliers), ski areas and sport organizers
  • ESF will monitor and promote the development of European ski and snowboard sport
  • ESF will organize and implement international ski and snowboard competitions at all levels

The European Ski Federation’s first event, at the Amneville Snow Hall, is being portrayed as a promotional event for snow sports in general.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Compagnie des Alpes Reports Half-year 2008-2009 Results

Despite the economic crisis, the Compagnie des Alpes 2008-2009 financial year began with very encouraging performances by the Group's two business lines.
Throughout the 2008-2009 winter season, which ended May 10, 2009, the Group's French ski areas had very satisfactory business, reflecting the quality of the sites and the strength of the ski market. Compared with the record season in 2008, visitor numbers at CDA ski areas—13.4 million skier days, for a decline of 2.3%—held up better than those of major competitors, and improved slightly on the average of the last three seasons. This performance, the second-best visitor numbers in the Group's history, came about despite the Alpine World Ski Championships, held at Val d'Isère during peak season, and despite the effects of the poor economy on the British clientele, who account for 20% of the total Group ski-area customers. Skier-day revenue rose by around 4.1%, partly because of the reopening of the Paradiski ski area, which gave the CDA Group like-for-like revenue growth in ski areas for the 20th consecutive year. Growth for the 2008-2009 season should come to around 1.7% compared with the previous season's.