Snow Update 28th July 09

Tue 28 July 09

Lots of snow in Australia, sunny weather closes Val d'isere for the summer and a sprinkling of snow in Switzerland reports that 14 ski areas are currently open in five European nations, with largely sunny weather dominating after fresh snow fell last week.

Saas Fee in Switzerland however is reporting 3cm (just over an inch) of fresh powder today (Tuesday July 28th) to top up its deep base. Nine lifts are currently operating there including three drag lifts on the glacier itself, served by the Metro Alpin. The resort’s snow park is open complete with rails, kickers and half pipe. At neighbouring Zermatt most of the Europe’s highest ski runs are open, with two blue and four red runs to enjoy. In total Zermatt offers 20km (13 miles) of piste on the resort’s Theodul glacier.

France is down to two centres open following Val d’isere’s glacier closure at the end of its brief summer ski season at the weekend. Tignes reports a 180cm (six foot) snow base while Les 2 Alpes says they have 50cm (120 inches) lying, both say the weather is sunny with gentle winds at present. Temperatures on the glaciers are a few degrees above zero so conditions will be best mid-morning and getting sticky by lunch time.

In Italy five lifts and five runs are open at Val Senales, with the ski area open to 1pm. At Passo Stelvio the glacier is open from 8am to 4:30pm with a break between 1 and 2pm although both access gondolas operate from 8am to 5pm without a break. A third choice is Cervinia which has a 1.2m (four foot base) and is operating its Rosa terrain park.

Austria offers more glacier ski areas than any other country in the northern hemisphere with four choices including the Tux glacier near Mayrhofen, the Kitzsteinhorn glacier above Kaprun, the Molltal glacier above Flattach and Mallnitz and the Dachstein glacier near Kaprun.
Temperatures have been warm on some of the glacier slopes at 5-10 degrees with rain falling in places. The Kitzsteinhorn reports a 233cm (7.5 feet) base and is gearing up to stage a mountain bike race on the glacier, the Snowclimb, on August 8th.

Norway’s three small summer ski centres are still open. Folgefonn has the greatest snow depth with 3 metres (10 feet), but the summer ski runs Galdhoppigen and Stryn are also well covered with at least a metre (3 feet) of the white stuff.

In North America the closure of whistler’s summer ski area on Blackcomb glacier last weekend means that only Timberline ski area on Mt Hood, Oregon, USA remains open for snow sports on the continent. It is currently reporting a 110cm (3.7 feet) base with two lifts and two runs open, including its terrain park and superpipe.

Moving in to the southern hemisphere, in Africa temperatures have been very low – hitting double figures below zero overnight – at Tiffindell in South Africa. Snow depths there are up to 65cm (2.2 feet) with a kilometre of runs open. The other Southern African ski centre, Afriski in Lesotho, is also reported to be open.

There has been heavy snowfall in parts of South America, with Portillo in Chile reporting 60cm (2 feet) of new snow in the pasty week, although the falls have stopped now. It has more than 1.8m (6 feet) of snow at the top of the slopes and is a few centimetres off accumulating four metres (13.3 feet) of new snow already this winter.

Other resorts in Chile have also reported healthy snowfalls with base depths at centres like Valle Nevado and la Parva typically now at around 1.2-1.5m (4—5 feet).

It’s a less promising picture in Argentina which has not seen much new snow and with the exception of Las Lenas, which has the country’s best snow depths of around 1.2m (4 feet), the main centres have limited cover on lower slopes and a maximum of 60cm (2 feet) at the top of the lifts.

In Australia Perisher ski resort received 32cm (13 inches) of fresh snow in 24 hours last Wednesday/Thursday July 22nd/23rd and has received smaller accumulations since.

The new snow turned the resort’s snow slopes in to a powdery paradise. To-date an accumulated 191cm (6.3 feet) of snow has settled across the resort, comprising 71cm (2.3 feet) in June and 120cm (four feet) since the beginning of July, allowing Perisher to offer excellent riding conditions across its four resort areas.

It has had some of the best of recent snowfalls, but most of the other Aussie snowfalls have reported significant accumulations too.

Most New Zealand resorts have also received fresh snow in the past week sand conditions continue to be snowy across much of the country. Most of the main centres on both islands now have healthy snow depths of 1.5 – 2.1 metres (5-7 feet) on upper slopes.

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