The Alps start to wake up - World Snow Update

Wed 15 September 10

More fresh snow in the alps, Andes, Australia and New Zealand. Second Austrian Glacier Resort, Pitztal, Opens For 8 Month Ski Season, two more at weekend. Tignes the first French resort to open slopes next week. Last weekend of the season for Las Lenas.

The Alps start to wake up - World Snow Update

The Alps start to wake up - World Snow Update © reports that a second Austrian resort opens for its long 2010-11 ski season today, Pitztal has opened the country’s highest lifts this morning.  The Stubai glacier near Innsbruck has announced it will open this Friday, it currently has 30cm (a foot) of snow lying.  The Kaunertal Glacier has announced it will open on Saturday, September 18th, it currently has a 30cm/one foot base.

Pitztal’s glacier has received 10cm (four inches) of new snow in the past week and has skiing from the top of the lifts at 3,440m down to the Glacier Restaurant at 2,840m with 9 -35cm (4-14 inches) of snow cover.  This can be topped up by one of only two plus temperatures snow making systems operational in the world, and it may come in to use over the next few days with temperatures well above freezing.

Pitztal and Stubai glacier will join Solden, which opened last week and Tux, which has been open year round.  It has 20km of slopes open and a 95cm (three foot) snow depth over a 590m vertical. It received a dusting of fresh snow on Monday.  The Molltal glacier is also open with the deepest snow in the country at 1.3m (4.3 feet) and has 9.5km of trails to enjoy.

It’s still not looking good at two Austrian resorts however.  The Dachstein glacier has only 10cm of wet snow and has not been able to open to downhill skiers and boarders for a month now, although it is maintaining a cross country ski loop.  It’s a similar picture at the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier above Kaprun which has been “temporarily closed” for more than a month now too, although it’s snow depth has been increasing and is now at 55cm (nearly two feet).

Elsewhere in Europe the list of open ski areas is getting smaller rather than larger with Cervinia closing at the weekend, although Val Senales is still open in Italy and has had fresh snow to top up its metre (3.3 foot) base.  In Switzerland conditions are still good at Saas Fee and Zermatt.  It’s now just over a week until outdoor snow sports return to France when the Tignes glacier re-opens on the 25th. At present you can only ski indoors there on the world’s longest indoor run, the 640m long Amneville descent.

There’s currently no skiing in Africa or in North America, as Timberline in Oregon is closed until October for its annual maintenance period. 

In South America we’re in the last month of the season at most resorts but most areas remain open and several are still going particularly strong, most notably Chile’s Valle Nevado, which operates in the largest ski area on the continent, the South American Three Valleys.  It has had 10cm of new snow this week on Sunday, and the UA women's ski team have arrived, including Lindsay Vonn, Hailey Duke and Sarah Schleper to train there this week.  Portillo to the north has had an inch of snow in the past week and snow depth is 57cm at the top.

In Argentina Las Lenas says it has about 30-40cm (12-16 inches) of snow left and plans to close on September 20th – next Monday.    It’s looking more promising further north with Chapelco reporting 1.5m (five feet) still at mid-mountain and the continent’s largest resort, Catedral, having 2.1m (seven feet) at the top and is reporting another 3cm(just over an inch) in the past 12 hours.

The southern hemisphere’s snow season also continues in Australia and New Zealand where conditions remain largely good for the time of year, with Springlike conditions bringing everything from blue sky days to rain or more snow to ski areas in both countries.

In Australia Thredbo and Perisher both report a base of around 180cm (six feet) with temperatures however around zero.  Thredbo has had 12cm (five inches) of new snow in the past week, most recently on Monday.  It’s a similar picture at the other Aussie ski areas, even if the snow is not quite so deep/  Falls Creek has a 116cm (near 4 foot) average and all but one of its lifts running, indeed virtually all of Australia’s pistes are groomed and almost every lift operational.

In New Zealand Mt Hutt is maintaining a two metre (near seven foot) snow depth on the upper mountain after another 14cm (six inches) feel yesterday.  The remarkable has got half that but did get another 5cm earlier today.

Over on Mt Ruapehu, Turoa reports another 15cm (six inches) fell overnight – keeping snow depths up above 1.8m (six feet) on the upper mountain.

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“Snowsure resort with a good park”