Friday, April 27, 2012

Where To Ski or Board In May?

At Whistler, Blackcomb Mountain’s operations have been extended to May 28, 2012. "We are enjoying another fantastic winter season here in Whistler so spring will have to wait just a little bit longer", says Doug MacFarlane, Whistler Blackcomb mountain operations manager. "We’ve got some of the best spring conditions we’ve ever had. Extending the ski season on Blackcomb and giving the people what they want was an easy decision".
Marmot Basin and Lake Louise in Alberta are also open the first week of May while Sunshine near Banff, which has reported record snowfall this year, is open another fortnight to nearly the end of May.

Ruka has the longest ski season in Finland and probably the longest season of any non-glacier ski area in the world. It expects to be open to June again this winter, almost all lifts and runs are open as we end April with temperatures hovering around zero. It usually keeps one or two main runs open through May and June. The resort's 2010-2011 season ran from 18.10.2010-12.6.2011 with a total of 239 skiing days.

There’s no longer year-round skiing in France, but Tignes, host of the European X Games last month which once opened 365 days, still has by far the country’s longest season and is scheduled to open to May 8th, along with Europe’s highest resort, Val Thorens. After that there are no ski areas scheduled to be open in France until summer skiing begins in late June. You could ski indoors on the world’s longest indoor run at Amneville up in the north of the country though – it’s 600m long.

With most of Italy’s remaining ski areas closing in the first few days of May and summer ski destinations like Val Senales and Cervinia not opening until at least June, the country’s remaining May skiing is offered by the Presena Glacier above Passo Tonale where normally several challenging runs (intermediate level or better) are available.


Engelberg has had the deepest snowbase in Europe all winter and at the time of writing it was still lying 6m (20 feet) deep up on the resort’s Titlis glacier, where the season continues to 28 May this year.
Other Swiss options include Zermatt – open year round, and Glacier 3000 above Les Diablerets which plans to stay open to the end of May. The Diavolezza glacier in the Engadin Valley near St Moritz is a further choice.

JapanNiseko had another good snow year, perhaps topping the world snowfall chart this winter with nearly 22m (66 feet) of snow reported. The snow is still lying thick and deep but it closes May 7th. After that one of the best bets may be to head to Gassan ("Moon Mountain" in Japanese), a small ski areas with a glacier in Tohoku Region's Yamagata Prefecture which has one of the world's oddest ski seasons - being open from May to July each year.

The summer ski season kicks off in May in Norway with Folgefonn normally the first to open early in the month followed by Stryn (24 May) and Galdhøpiggen. Each centre offers skiing, boarding and summer camps on the country’s highest and biggest glaciers.

Riksgränsen in the Arctic Circle in Northern Sweden has long been known as one of the world’s best destinations for late spring skiing, with the snow still fresh and less affected by the freeze-thaw spring skiing conditions at this time of year at resorts at more southerly latitudes. It also offers the novelty of 24 hour daylight from later in the month with skiing and boarding in the small hours under the midnight sun. 2012 snow conditions are reported to be excellent.

Elsewhere in Europe, Scottish ski areas are keen to prove they can deliver snow sports after being forced to close through March due to record warm weather. Three were open for the final weekends of April and with the weather still cool, may open in to May.

Mammoth Mountain in California has long been one of the best bets for spring skiing through to June or July in the USA and despite an unusual snowfall-short winter, frequent heavy snow storms through March and April have given the resort a good base and it has so far announced it will be open at least to the USS Memorial Day holiday at the very end of May.
Elsewhere with a 100-inch (2.5m) base, Snowbird in Utah is still open for skiing and boarding, and says it will, "continue running lifts as long as the snowpack and other conditions permit". Crystal Mountain in Washington also plans to stay open beyond May and Timberline in Oregon is a third choice.

Southern Hemisphere
The ski season in the southern hemisphere is unlikely to start until early June unless there is unseasonable early snow (picture attached: Valle Nevado, Chile, April 29th). Typically Afri-ski in Lesotho ( is one of the first to open, scheduled for June 7 this year, along with resorts in New Zealand.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Still More Heavy Late Season Snowfalls In The Alps

It has been another snowy April week in the Alps and dolomites and while the number of ski areas still open for ‘winter’ 2011-12 continues to diminish, most of those that remain open have plenty of fresh snow to enjoy. It has been another snowy week in France in particular with repeat powder alarms for 20cm/8 inches or more of new snow reported by many of the still-open centres over the past seven days – with some areas reporting over a metre of snow in the past week.
The snowfall has slowed across the Atlantic where less than 20 ski areas remain open in Canada and the US with May beginning next week one of the quietest months of the year for open ski areas before some European resorts begin re-opening for summer skiing and boarding and then hopefully towards the end of the month the first southern hemisphere ski areas begin opening for their 2012 seasons.
The last week of April brought fresh snow to the Austrian Alps. On Tuesday April 24th, 20cm snowfall was reported from Solden (with another 20cm+ on Wednesday) while 10cm was reported at Obergurgl-Hochgurgl and on the Stubai Glacier. Also Ischgl reported heavy snowfall ahead of its big season-ending concert this weekend. The Austrian weather forecast says it will get much warmer at the end of the week, so there is not more snowfall expected. During the last seven days Kaprun – Kitzsteinhorn and Moelltal Glacier received 20cm powder and Solden got 70cm snowfall in the last week. Around ten resorts are still open in Austria with the best snow depth at the Dachstein Glacier with 600cm. The Stubai Glacier has 420cm and Pitztal also 420cm. There are still open slopes as well at Kaunertal Glacier, in Ischgl, Obertauern and Kaprun.
The end of the French ski season is only two weeks away as the last two resorts open in the country plan to end their 2011-12 seasons on May 8th, making France the only one of the big four Alpine ski nations to have no resorts open for the rest of May and in to June until Les 2 Alpes, Tignes and Val d’Isere re-open for summer skiing. France has had the most snow in the past seven days of anywhere in the world with La Clusaz reporting 1.2m (four feet) falling in the past week. Most of the country’s still-open ski areas have been issuing powder alarms for 20cm or more of new snow almost daily. La Plagne and La Clusaz have already issued fresh powder alarms today (Wednesday 25 April). Despite the new snow, most of the remaining French ski areas that are still open – including Courchevel, Meribel, Alpe d’Huez, les 2 Alps, La Plagne, Risoul/Vars, La Clusaz and Val d’Isere - will close after this weekend (or by May 1st at the latest) leaving only Chamonix (still with the deepest snow base in France - back up to 4m), Tignes and Val Thorens open for a further weekend in May.
Italian ski areas have had their share of fresh snow this week too. Most are now closed and of the few still open only Cervinia plans to stay open for two more weekends – through to May 6. However conditions are reported to be good at Livigno and on the slopes of Faloria ski area in Cortina, both of which will be open until 1 May.
Swiss mountain weather over the past week has changed from sun to rain to snow as is typical for April weather. After quite sunny weeks in the beginning and rainy days in the middle, fresh snow has arrived in the last few days of April. On Tuesday Verbier, which is coming up to its final weekend of the season, reported 15cm, Gstaad 10cm and Samnaun 5cm. In the last seven days Gstaad Glacier 3000 received 50cm of fresh powder, while Samnaun measured 32cm and Champéry 20cm. There are still about 20 resorts open in Switzerland including Engelberg where the snow depth has gone back up to 605cm, Zermatt with 170cm, St. Moritz with 100cm and Adelboden with 100cm.
Most ski areas in the Pyrenees are now closed but Masella in Spain remains operational with a 30-120cm base. Ski areas in Andorra closed two weeks ago.
Voss still has Norway’s deepest snow at 3.3m (11 feet) and the next weekends is a big one at some of the country’ larger resorts like Area in Sweden and Hemsedal in Norway with big festivals scheduled. The late spring skiing is also underway at Riksgransen in the Swedish Arctic Circle to the north where midnight-sun skiing is due to begin in about a month’s time.
The weather in Scotland has been cold with a lot of precipitation all through April, falling as snow on higher ground. Some forecasts are predicting May will be the coldest for a century with snow to lower levels. Cairngorm has been open for the past week with limited terrain available for all ability levels at the top of the slopes and reduced priced tickets. On the West Coast Glencoe was open last weekend and may re-open this weekend – they say they have enough snow but not enough skiers and boarders. Available terrain was mostly suited to intermediate and advanced skiers. Its chairlift is running daily so ski tourers can get easy access to terrain above the snowline. Nevis Range was not open for skiers and boarders on its own runs last weekend but it did run the quad chair above the gondola so that those prepared to ski off piste on unpatrolled terrain could access the backside of the slopes. It has not yet decided if it will offer a similar arrangement this weekend. The Lecht and Glenshee have inadequate snow cover and remain closed.
Most ski area in Canada are now closed but those still open have deep snowbases thanks to record or near record snowfall. Whistler Blackcomb is open to the end of May and will be open for summer skiing in late June and July. In Alberta Lake Louise and Marmot Basin are open in to the first week of May while Sunshine Village near Banff, which has beaten it’s all time snowfall record this season, is open for another four weeks to late May.
Most ski areas in the USA are now closed but a few dozen on the west side of the country are still operating and some plan to continue right through May. There’s been little new snow in the past week on the west side of the country although ironically there has been more snow in the East where nearly all centres are closed. Those that expect to have at least four weeks of the season (in some cases at weekends only) to go include Suga Bbowl, Donner Ski Ranch and Mammoth Mountain in California, Alyeska in Alaska, Crystal Mountain in Washington State, Mt Bachelor in Oregon, Snowbird in Utah and Timberline in Oregon – which should open through to September. "While most resorts are shutting down, our spring season is just getting started!", said a resort statement from Mammoth, which has up to 2.4m lying on upper slopes. Also still open are Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows in California (with Kirkwood also open this weekend) and Arapahoe Basin and Loveland in Colorado – although the latter now say this weekend will be their last of the season. Mt Baker in Washington State still has the world’s deepest snowbase at 727cm (just over 24 feet) but plans to close for the season after the coming weekend. On the East Coast Seven Springs ski area in Pennsylvania made history yesterday (Tuesday 24 April) by re-opening after around 20cm of new snow fell, making national headlines for the latest ever ski area opening in the region. Jay Peak in Vermont says it expects to re-open this weekend and has up to 30cm, of snow lying.

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.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Free Wi-Fi Connection Available to Skiers in Val Thorens

Last Wednesday, April 11th, Aerohive Networks announced that Val Thorens, the highest ski resort in Europe, has deployed Aerohive’s WLAN solution at its ski lifts. In doing so, tourists can use free Wi-Fi rather than incur expensive 3G roaming costs.
The resort already had a Wi-Fi network for internal administrative use, but wanted to expand the network to offer skiers internet access whilst on the slopes. "We want to offer visitors the best services to facilitate their stay in the resort. We are anticipating their needs by offering them access to Wi-Fi on the ski lifts", says Eric Bonnel, Sales and Marketing Director of ski lift company SETAM.
A pilot of the technology was subsequently deployed by reseller and IT partner to Soluceo, Scientific Equipment, in December 2010, to three ski lifts. The deployment took just one day, including configuration.
This was followed by a full roll-out to a further nine ski lifts in November 2011. The solution includes the HiveManager Virtual Management Appliance on VMware and HiveAP340s. It also supports Val Thoren’s Netinary internet control application. The Aerohive deployment has the capacity to support 10,000 devices, concurrently, on the network. As the popularity of the free Wi-Fiservice grows, Val Thorens is assured of the network’s resilience and consistency and quality of service. The HiveAP340 is also especially situable for use on the ski slopes – its water resistance rating, internal thermal management, sunshield and outdoor enclosure isdesigned for sub-zero temperatures.
"Thanks to its easy deployment and use, we can anticipate future upgrades to our solution with no additional investment", adds Elvis Hudry, SETAM Networks and Systems Administrator, who is in charge of the project.
In place for a year, the service has been quickly adopted by tourists, as evidenced by the steadily increasing connection rate – up 30% in January 2012 on January 2011. Accessible to tourists from 8am to 5pm, the resort now sees around one hundred connections a day with each one averaging 10 minutes. The wireless LAN will soon be extended to the neighbouring Orelle resort, to allow tourists to connect from a restaurant terrace.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Heavy Snowfall On Still Open Slopes in the Alps

There’s been fresh snow in the Alps over the weekend according to reports on skiinfo.
Powder alarms for more than 20cm (eight inches) of new snow in 24 hours were generates by still-open ski areas from north-to-south and east-to-west of Europe’s main ski mountain range – good news for anyone still planning to hit the slopes at one of the several hundred ski areas still open.
Beneficiaries include Vars and Les Orres in the southern French Alps reporting 35cm (14 inches) of new snow by Sunday. These followed on from falls in the northern French Alps from Thursday to Saturday which brought 20cm (eight inches) to Avoriaz, and a full foot (30cm) to Argentiere and Chamonix which have had the deepest snow in the country all year and still have an approximately three metre (10 feet) base and are open to May.
In Italy La Thuile had 20cm and the Monterosa Region a full 35cm (14 inches) while Switzerland’s Samnaun linked to Ischgl in Austria and open to May posted 20cm while Crans Montana had a full foot (30cm).
Saas Fee – with a few days of its season left before its short closure and then summer ski season start, got 40 cm in the last 24 hours and a snow base of 440 cm in the glacier (picture attached).
Along with these headline snowfall figures many resorts got longer-periods accumulations led by Gstaad which says it has received (1.8m) six feet of snow over the past 7 days. Grindelwald is second in Europe with 105cm (3.5 feet) and La Grave says 80cm (nearly three feet) – the same as Les ores and Alagna over the border in Italy.
It wasn’t just the Alps that got the snow too. Snowfall was reported in Scandinavia, Scotland and down in the Pyrenees where Cauterets reported 40cm of new snow yesterday. This has issued another powder alarm today, Monday 16th April.
In the Italian Dolomites Madonna di Campiglio reported a full 45cm and summer ski area Val Senales 30cm (a foot) on each of two successive days.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Vail Resorts Closes Its Acquisition of Kirkwood Mountain Resort at Lake Tahoe

Vail Resorts today announced that the Company has closed on its acquisition of Kirkwood Mountain Resort at Lake Tahoe, California, recognized by skiers and snowboarders as offering some of the best high alpine advanced terrain in North America. Vail Resorts now operates three world-class mountain resorts in the Lake Tahoe region and together with Heavenly Mountain Resort and Northstar California, provides guests and pass holders unparalleled value with the very best that Lake Tahoe has to offer. The transaction, which included the ski resort and undeveloped sites at the center of the base area, closed for total consideration of approximately $18.0 million. The seller retains a participation interest in the base area parcels and continues to own the remainder of the real estate development sites.
Vail Resorts is already delivering amazing value from the acquisition to its guests. This season, Heavenly and Northstar pass holders can ski and ride at Kirkwood and Kirkwood pass holders can visit Northstar and Heavenly. The Company reported that they are already seeing thousands of reciprocal visits from pass holders at the three resorts.
With the previous announcement of the Kirkwood acquisition, Vail Resorts immediately began including Kirkwood in its industry-leading season pass offering. The Company recently announced the best value in 2012-2013 season passes, including the new Tahoe Local Pass that provides access to more than 10,000 total skiable acres between Kirkwood, Heavenly Mountain Resort and Northstar California, marking the most combined terrain in Tahoe. Priced at $419, Tahoe Local pass holders receive seven-day-per-week access to all three Tahoe resorts for $80 less than last year’s comparable Epic Local Pass. Guests of Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood now have a variety of season pass options to choose from depending on when and how often they want to ski and ride.
• New for 2012-2013, the Tahoe Local Pass™ offers skiing and riding seven days a week to Heavenly, Northstar, and Kirkwood resorts for $419. The Tahoe Local Pass includes access on Saturdays at all three Tahoe resorts with limited holiday restrictions and $50 pass holder tickets available for purchase during blackout dates. Priced $80 less than last year’s Epic Local Pass, the Tahoe Local Pass pays for itself in just over four days.
• The Tahoe Value Pass™, available for $379, includes skiing or riding seven days a week at Heavenly, skiing and riding at Northstar and Kirkwood on Sunday-Friday, and restricted on all Saturdays at Northstar and Kirkwood. Holiday restrictions apply, but pass holders can purchase a $50 ticket to any of the three resorts on restricted dates. In less than four days of skiing or riding, the Tahoe Value Pass pays for itself.
The Epic Pass™, the best season pass deal in the ski industry, offers unlimited, unrestricted skiing at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood and Arapahoe Basin for $659. The Epic Pass pays for itself in less than six days on the mountain.
• Epic 7-Day™ pays for itself in less than five days and is ideal for people who don’t plan to ski more than seven days. The Epic 7-Day gives skiers and snowboarders a total of seven unrestricted days of skiing at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Heavenly, Northstar and Arapahoe Basin anytime during the season for $509.

Vail Resorts is the leading mountain resort operator in the United States. Vail Resorts operate the mountain resorts of Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado, and Heavenly, Northstar and now Kirkwood in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada, and the GrandTeton Lodge Company in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The Company's subsidiary, RockResorts, a luxury resorthotel company, manages casually elegant properties. Vail Resorts Development Company is the real estateplanning, development and construction subsidiary of Vail Resorts, Inc. Vail Resorts is a publicly heldcompany traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Fresh April Snow In The Alps, East and West North America

Although many resorts on both sides of the Atlantic have closed last weekend after Easter Sunday or plan to do so next weekend, quite a few of those that are still open to the end of April or in to May or June are able to report fresh snow fall – in some cases quite significant levels in the Austrian, French, Italian, Swiss and German Alps as well as in the Dolomites. More snow is expected towards the end of the week too as the snowline drops.
In North America there’s been cold weather and in some cases significant snowfalls at last in the East of the continent, with up to a foot (30cm) of new snow reported in the past 48 hours. Unfortunately however most resorts are already closed there.
Several resorts got fresh snow over the Easter holidays in Austria with Solden reporting almost a metre (98cm/3.3 feet to be exact). Solden has had more fresh powder on Tuesday again with more new snow so the slopes there are in a great shape. Nearby Obergurgl also saw healthy falls leaving both resorts in great shape for the rest of April. Other ski areas also did well including the Molltal Glacier (30cm), Serfaus Fiss Ladis (20cm) the Dachstein Glacier (20cm) and Alpbachtal (20cm). A few centimetres of fresh snow has also allowed Kitzbuhel to extend its season to May 1st with more than 20 slopes still open in the popular resort. The snow depth is 145cm (nearly five feet) at higher elevations. The country’s best snow depth is still at the Dachstein-Glacier with 580cm (nearly 20 feet!). At Zugspitzplatt Ehrwald there are 440cm and at Stubaier Glacier are 410cm. More new snow is expected for Wednesday and for the weekend in Tirol and Vorarlberg.
Resorts still open in France have seen some good fresh snow falls in many cases over the past week. Chamonix, which still has the country’s deepest snow base of 3.4m (11.3 feet) has had another 20cm of snow in the last seven days while the Grand Massif region including Flaine reported the biggest fall of 45cm (18 inches). In the southern Alps Isola 2000 had 25cm of new snow.
There have been some healthy snowfalls in Italy over the past week at the country’s leading resorts. Among the beneficiaries were summer ski centre Val Senales with 60cm (two feet), Madonna di Campiglio with 37cm of fresh snow and Cervinia with 30cm (a foot). In the dolomites Cortina d’Ampezzo had 25cm (10 inches) on new snow. The deepest snow base is above Passo Tonale on the Presena Glacier with three metres (10 feet).
There’s been new snow reported over the last few days in Switzerland, so the slopes are looking good for the last weeks of the season. Andermatt got 42cm, Crans Montana 40cm, Engelberg 40cm, Lotschental 32cm and Laax 15cm. The country’s higher slopes are in a good shape and skiers can enjoy the spring conditions. At the end of the week the snow line is expected to drop to 800m, so snow can be expected in some regions. The deepest snow can still be found at Engelberg with 595cm (20 feet), followed by Andermatt 400cm and Laax with 380cm.
With a few weeks of the season left at the snowiest resorts in the Pyrenees, snow depths are holding up. Vallnord in Andorra has the deepest in the region at 2.7m (9 feet) with Grandvalira (Soldeu and Pas de la Casa) still reporting up to 1.4m (nearly five feet) on upper slopes. Over the border in France Cauterets has the deepest snow in the region with a 1.7m (nearly six foot) base. Astun in Spain is on 1.2m (four feet).
Norway dominates Scandinavia in terms of snowfall totals and snow depths with coastal Voss reporting the region’s deepest base of 3.4m (11.3 feet) at present. It is one of the world’s top 10 recipients of snowfall volume in the past week too with another 42cm (16 inches) of snow falling.
Temperatures have risen after the snowy first week of April that allowed several Scottish ski areas to re-open, so they have since closed again. However Cairngorm has had new snow in the past 24 hours and is considering re-opening if conditions allow. Nevis Range has also had a few inches of new snow in the past few days and with more forecast later this week says it may re-open this weekend if conditions allow.
Many of Canada’s leading resorts closed after Easter Sunday but those still open on both sides of the country have in many cases benefitted from fresh snowfall and even those that haven’t had new snow have, in most cases, good bases that will see them through to the end of the season. Lake Louise, open to May 7th for example, is only 20cm off its all time snowfall record. Other resorts with a month or more of their winter still to go include Sunshine Village near Banff, Marmot Basin near Jasper and Whistler. Mount Washington (picture attached) has a huge snow base once again and plans to stay open until April 22nd, the Canadian National snowboard squad were training there over the weekend. On the East Coast there was much needed new snow in Quebec with Mont Sainte Anne still having half its runs open and an 84cm base.
Although many US ski areas closed at the weekend, there have been some significant snowfalls reported in both the East and west coasts of the country, so in some ways this was one of the most normal weeks of the 11-12 ski season. The biggest seven day accumulation has been at Big Sky in Montana which reports 75cm or two-and-a-half feet of snow, other resorts in the North west have again seen the most snow although fresh accumulations in Colorado and California were minimal. Utah resorts however reported up to 30cm (a foot) of new snow with Snowbird expecting to stay open in to May. Tahoe resorts didn’t see much new snow but they have announced extended seasons in some cases thanks to the big March falls and Alpine meadows, Kirkwood and Squaw Valley all look set to open at least at weekends to the start of May, possibly longer. Although there are hardly any ski areas still open in Eastern USA after the war March there was at last significant snowfall here with Killington one of the big beneficiaries, receiving 33cm (over 13 inches) in the past few days boosting its upper slope depth to 91cm (three feet). Mt Baker in Washington state continues to have the deepest snow pack in the US, North America and the world at 7.8 metres or about 26 feet!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Tahoe Region Explores bid possibilities for 2022 Olympics

Fifty-two years after the Olympic flame was first ignited in the Tahoe region, California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and Nevada Lieutenant Governor Brian Krolicki announced the formation of the Lake Tahoe Winter Games Exploratory Committee (LTWGEC) on April 5th, a new joint California Nevada initiative to develop an Olympic Bid for the 2022 Winter Games. "Our new committee is the evolution of years of work by many people, and if the United States Olympic Committee decides to bid on the 2022 Winter Games, we will be ready to showcase the Tahoe region's scenic majesty and winter games capabilities", Krolicki said in a statement.
The new committee, LTWGEC, is an entity created by the leadership of two separate organizations that were set up to explore a potential bid for the Tahoe Region. The two organizations—the Reno Tahoe Winter Games Coalition and the California Winter Games Committee—joined by the Bay Area Sports Organizing Committee, will now be committing their significant resources to the LTWGEC. The Lake Tahoe Winter Games Exploratory Committee will be tasked with creating a group of business, civic and political leaders that will work to explore the benefits and impacts of hosting the Olympic Games in the Lake Tahoe Region. According to Krolicki and Newsom, the new group's leadership will be announced in the coming weeks—including an environmental leadership team. Andy Wirth, CEO and president at Squaw Valley, will serve as interim chair of the committee.
Tamara McKinney, a three-time Olympian from Squaw Valley who has been helping efforts to bring the Games back to the Lake Tahoe area, said the 1960 Olympic Games left a huge legacy that has shaped the area's development. "I live here, I grew up skiing these mountains, and I can genuinely say that we have some incredible mountains and areas to show the world, and it's all within a relatively short distance", said McKinney.
Salt Lake City and Denver also are vying for the 2022 Winter Games. U.S. Olympic Committee Chairman Scott Blackmun said in February that Bozeman, Mont., also has expressed an interest in bidding for 2022. The U.S. Olympic Committee has to decide by 2013 whether to submit a formal bid and promote a single nominee for 2022.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Alpe d'Huez - Les Deux Alpes link project advances

During a local council meeting last week, officials have unanimously adopted an agreement of the linking of the five municipalities of Le Freney, Auris, Mont-de-Lans, Venosc & Huez. With this agreement the Alpe d'Huez - Les Deux Alpes liaison is to be brought back under the spotlight.
The five Oisan municipalities have agreed to donate a maximum of 20,000 Euros each towards the research and developement of the liasoon project. The studies in snow cover, feasibility and technical requirements are to commence in June 2012.The cross-valley project between the two Oisans ski resorts of Alpe d'Huez and Les Deux Alpes is by no means a new project, the project was originally discussed back in 2004. The project has been to'ing-and-fro'ing ever since - back in 2006 the project was rejected during a council meeting yet in 2009 news sources claimed the project would be open in 2012.
Only 3km separates the south-west facing slopes of les Grandes Buffes to the east of Auris from the Mont de Lans chair lift. The opening of the massive Vanoise Express cable car in 2004 lent credibility to the idea that the Romanche Valley could also be spanned, linking these two giants of Dauphiné skiing.
The skiing argument for hyper-domains is clear. To cross the the valley between Les Arcs and La Plagne the Vanoise Express has to be relatively low lying. Skiing the furthest reaches of the domain takes most of the day with a good part of it spent on ski lifts. It is the marketing argument that is important. Following the launch, the new lift generated 4.5M€ in revenue and turned the formerly outlying Peisey-Vallandry into a boom town with a 15% increase in turnover. Lying on the crossroads of the two resorts it attracted both ClubMed and MGM, something that Bernard Chapuis of les Arcs lift company (SMA-STAG) has said was a significant factor in the resort’s recent success.
Paradiski also helped the Compagnie des Alpes (CDA), the group that controls both resorts, to increase profits by a staggering 40% in 2004 and attracted high-spending foreign guests to the area’s shops and restaurants. However the recent picture is more mixed. Turnover has stagnated with a 3% increase from 2004 to 2006 although the last two winters have been difficult in the Tarentaise. Les Arcs has also reaped the most benefit from the new link.
Les Deux Alpes is the most recent addition to CDA Group's ski areas (December 2009). Generating more than 10% of the Group's Ski Area sales, Deux-Alpes on its own is the fourth biggest contributor to business behind the three connected areas of Paradiski, Espace Killy and Trois Vallées. The ski resort accounts for some 1.3 million skier-days.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Snow Returns to Northern Europe and Continues in Western North America

It’s been largely mild again with little fresh snow in the Alps but although resorts are closing for the end of winter, those that are still open typically have deep snow bases so conditions are largely good if ‘spring like’ A cold front due to arrive in the next few days may change things dramatically with up to 90cm (three feet) of new snow forecast. It’s already snowing in the French alps.
Snow is back in Northern Europe with the re-opening of some Scottish ski areas after their premature closure in February and Norway has returned to the top of the world snowfall charts with up to 192cm in the past week.
In Western North America and particularly Canada it’s been a snowy week, yet again, with Whistler reporting more than 1.5m (five feet) of fresh snow taking them further past their seasonal average and with more than 7 weeks of the season left to run there, closer to possibly breaking their all time snowfall record.
There has been little new snow fall in the last week in Austria although several resorts including Zauchensee reported 30cm (a foot) of new snow and bigger name centres including Kaprun, Molltaler Glacier and Dachstein Glacier had 15cm (six inches) each. The upcoming days will stay mild but the snow line gets lower over the Easter weekend and more snow is expected, especially in resorts like Ischgl, Galtur, Nauders and Kaunertal where up to 80cm of new snow is forecast. So the Easter holidays could be very white in the Alps. Snow depths are still very good with 590cm (nearly 20 feet) at Dachstein Glacier, 415cm at Zugspitzplatt Ehrwald and 410cm at Stubaier Glacier.
It’s snowing today (April 4) in southern France with Isola 2000 reporting 20cm of new snow and Serre Chevalier 10cm. There’s been little other new snow in France this week but snow depths remain good at most major ski centres in the northern Alps after the huge falls in the first half of this winter – and there have been some top ups of fresh too with Alpe d’Huez and Flaine among those reporting 5cm of new snow today. Chamonix still has the deepest base of 3.6m (12 feet0 and is open in to May.
There’s been little new snow in the past week in Italy with only Alagna reporting 5cm (two inches) of fresh cover. Snow depths at centres that are still open in Italy remain good including three metres (10 feet) at Passo Tonale and 2.7m (nine feet) at Cervinia on upper slopes – both open at least to May.
With only 5cm in Davos Klosters and 4cm in Crans Montana snow falls in Switzerland were really rare in the last week. After several very sunny days, the cloudy weather is back but temperatures are still mild so in most areas it will be rainy for the next few days. More sun can be expected at the Easter weekend. The weather stations also expect new snow for the upcoming seven days. Snow falls up to 50cm are likely in Saas Fee, Engelberg, Grindelwald and Andermatt. The best snow depth at the moment is reported from Engelberg with 535cm, followed by Andermatt 400cm and Laax and Crans Montana with 350cm each.
Snowlines have been dropping in the Pyrenees as temperature have risen, with most areas losing 20-40cm of depth to their snow bases but resorts like Cauterets in France, Baqueira Beret (picture attached) in Spain and VallNord in Andorra all still have good bases.
Scandinavia has seen some of the biggest snowfalls in the world over the past seven days. In Norway, Bjorli, Strandafjellet and Stordal all report huge falls of around 180cm, (six feet) of fresh snow and summerski centre Stryn has had 75cm, setting it up for a potentially good 2012 season when it re-opens soon. Of the internationally well known big name centres, Are in Sweden reports 13cm of new snow.
Several Scottish ski areas have re-opened thanks to fresh snow in the past 48 hours. The new snow took ski centres – which had been closed for six weeks due to record high March and February temperatures – by surprise, most had moved early in to their summer operating model. Currently Cairngorm and The Lecht have terrain open with fresh snow and Nevis Range have new snow on the beginner slope.
Western Canada is continuing the great season it’s been enjoying since the end of last year, and a repeat of the epic 2010-11. Whistler reports another 1.5m of snow in the past week and there have been big falls reported too at resorts including Mt Washington, Fernie and Kimberley with the snow also falling in Alberta. The East Coast is suffering from warm weather however and most areas there have now closed.
Far western US has had more heavy snow although conditions are reported to be more challenging at still-open areas in some states like Colorado because of warm weather. Sugar Bowl and squaw Valley in California both report over 90cm (three feet) of new snow in the past week but Mt Baker in Washington state has again topped them all with another 1.5m – the base there is creeping close to 8 metres again. Only seven major ski areas are open in Eastern North America, with limited terrain, following the warm weather there.

30th anniversary of the Allalin Races – Feel the burn on the glacier

Legendary Allalin Races celebrate 30th anniversary in 2012.

On 13 and 14 April it will once again be time to say: on the slopes, get set, go!

The two-day event will see over 1,000 participants race the almost 9 km course, descending from 3,600 metres into the valley at 1,800 m. World-famous skier Silvan Zurbriggen will once again be at the starting gate. For 30 years the Allalin Races in Saas-Fee have been part of the Super Vier –a series of the top four amateur downhill races in Switzerland.
Each year the races and after-parties attract ambitious amateur racers as well as winter sports fans who join in simply for the fun of taking part. Alongside the races, there will, of course, be a colourful and varied programme of events. An array of charmingly decorated wooden chalets will be offering a feast of delights at the festival site. They include a wine/champagne bar, a raclette hut, a barbecue lodge or an Asian food stand.A fun party atmosphere is guaranteed, with live music starting from 11 a.m.and going on into the night. There are also many attractions for kids, including face painting and a bouncy castle. To top it off, Silvan Zurbriggen –the famous World Cup skier from the Upper Valais – will be mingling with the crowds on Saturday. Zurbriggen will take part in individual races before giving interviews and even conducting a few of his own on the village square. Fans of all ages will then be able to pick up an autograph from the star skier.
Just over 1,000 participants have registered so far for the 2012 Allalin Races.This gives the organisers strong hopes of surpassing last year’s number ofparticipants and seeing the event’s popularity continue to rise. A total of 552 skiers have already registered for the individual races. The categories with the highest numbers of participants are "Individual Men’s 18 –35" and "Individual Men’s 36 – 50", each with almost 200 on the starting list. At the moment 373 people are registered for the team races. They make up 66 teams in the "Team Race", 23 in the "Fun Team Race" and two in the "Team Snowboarding Race". In addition, 144 skiers have signed up for the His and Hers Race.
This year, most participants in the Allalin Races are from Switzerland (over 90 percent), whilst 5.8 percent are from Germany. The rest come from Italy, the UK, Spain and Austria. Among the Swiss participants, the highest proportion comes from Berne (43 percent), considerably more than the 12 percent from the Valais region. Close behind are the skiers from Aargau, who make up just under 11 percent, and from Zurich, who make up 8.9 percent. Hardly any skiers from Eastern Switzerland have registered.The oldest male participant comes from Germany. Born in 1936, he is participating in the highest glacier downhill race in the world at the grand oldage of 76. The oldest woman, born in 1949, will be competing at the age of63. The youngest male competitor is 16 and the youngest female 19. Invitation to all over-all winners from the past 30 years For the 30th edition of the Allalin Races, the organisers have come up with a very special idea. All the over-all winners from the past 30 years have been personally invited to this special occasion. For several of the former competitors this is sure to be a happy reunion with like-minded people and a chance to indulge in unforgettable memories of lightning-speed descents, comic moments and fierce competition. It will certainly be a great opportunity for all involved to enjoy the races in a jovial environment and to be up close tothe action once more.

Ski Girls Rock Vail With Lindsey Vonn

Olympic gold medalist and World Cup Alpine Ski Champion, Lindsey Vonn, took some time this week to ski with a few of her biggest fans on Vail Mountain in Colorado, USA as part of the resort’s exclusive Ski Girls Rock program, introduced this season.
A few lucky girls from around the globe, including representatives from Brazil, England and Canada, in addition to a select handful of girls who participated in the Ski Girls Rock lesson program this season, were chosen to return to Vail to ski with their idol as a part of Vonn’s homecoming celebration on April 1.
The popular Ski Girls Rock program debuted during the 2011-2012 ski season, offering a new premium lesson inspired and designed by Lindsey Vonn, exclusively for girls ages 5-15. Lessons consist of no more than four students per group and are led by dedicated female instructors who not only focus on improving skiing skills but empowering girls through the sport and creating opportunities to bond, build confidence and develop teamwork and social skills.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Technoalpin Acquires Johnson Controls Neige

TechnoAlpin, a major player in snowmaking -35% market share in Europe-, has just formalized the acquisition of all the activities of Johnson Controls Neige (JCN) in France, Italy and the U.S. JCN is a snowmaking equipment market leader in France with 60% market share and 30% worldwide.
Both companies will retain their own autonomy and their own structures and management processes; JCN will change its name to MYNEIGE. The entire staff of the snow group (105 people) is retained within the new company. The objective is to develop complementary synergies, and provide operators of ski areas with superior products and services for snowmaking.
TechnoAlpin designs and builds turnkey snow-making systems all over the world. The company was founded in 1990 in Bolzano (South Tyrol/ITA) and today it boasts a network of 25 branch offices and trading partners.
Johnson Controls Neige is a specialist in snow production solutions for ski resorts since 1976. Over the years, Johnson Controls Neige has developed a strong expertise servicing ski resort operators around the world to address their challenges of the production of man-made snow.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Best In Snow: The World’s 10 Snowiest Ski Resorts

Winter 2011-12 has been a bit of a temperature roller-coaster in many areas of the world with a 50 degree spread between some of the lowest and warmest temperatures reported in the Alps in February and March and similar extremes in North America.
However much we would like to be able to offer a snow guarantee for some destinations, it always remains a bit of a gamble exactly where gets the snow and when. Even areas that usually receive vast volumes of powder can have bad seasons, even those with year round snow fields on glaciers aren’t much fun if there’s been no fresh snowfall and the surface is hard and icy.
But over years and decades some ski areas do consistently perform better than others for snowfall and we at Skiinfo thought we would create a top 10 of those places we know are, normally – or at least on average - the snowiest.
This exercise last seems to have been undertaken by a famous American travel publisher five years ago and it was interesting to see what has changed and what hasn’t.
Those averages have tweaked a little bit and it seems that with 19 resorts in North America in the top 20 they created there was something of an American bias. In truth however it can be hard to find reliable data from resorts outside North America that are in the world’s snowiest regions – and those are typically in the Himalayas, Japan and Western North America. We did manage to find some snowfall data from other famous Japanese ski areas besides Niseko wjhich gave us another top 10 entry and while figures from Gulmarg in the Indian Himalayas were hard to verify, it appears to deserve to be in there too. There may be other Japanese resorts that should be in the top 10 if the data was obtainable.
The Andes are famed for their powder snow in the northern hemisphere’s summer but the stats show it doesn’t fall quite so abundantly as in those three super-snowy regions, similarly the Alps and other mountain ranges around the world just don’t get so much.

Quality or Quantity?

Some areas claim to have, usually, lighter, fluffier snow than elsewhere in the world and for many skiers and boarders this issue of quality is much more important that how deep that snow is lying – 10 feet or 20 feet of it makes little difference. Indeed when the powder snow was ‘neck deep’ in parts of California in winter 2010-11 some people reported the experience rather alarming, like drowning in snow.

The Top 10

1. Mt Baker, Washington State, USA - Average 19.06m per season. Record season was ‘98-‘99 when received 28.5m of snow. This winter snow depths here passed 8m (27 feet) earlier this month.

2. Alyeska, Alaska, USA - Average 16.07m per season. Based on 31 year average:

3. Alta, Utah, USA – Average 15.59m per season. Based on 5 year average 06/07 – 10/11:

4. Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan – Average 15.11m per season.

5. Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada – Average 15m per season.

6. Nozawa Onsen, Japan – Average 14.44m per season.

7. Gulmarg, India – Average 14m per season. During the 2004-05 season there was 20m of snow.

8. Kirkwood, California, USA – Average 13.96m per season. Kirkwood received 20.4m of snow during the 2005-2006 ski season.

9. Grand Targhee, Wyoming, USA – Average 12.7m per season. More detail:

10. Snowbird, Utah – Average 12.5m per season. More detail:

(A skiinfo report. All data was collected in March 2012 using available data. Averages may be based on different time periods – the shortest we are aware of was over 5 years, the longest over more than 30 years).
Skiinfo, a division of Mountain news Corporation, publishers of and other services, is one of the world’s longest established and best ski information portals providing resort and snow information for more than 2,000 ski areas to more than a dozen different language portals. The company has a network of international offices across Europe.