September is traditionally one of the quietest months in world skiing. There are around 6000 ski areas on the planet, but in September many of the glacier ski areas in the Alps have closed after their summer ski season, and the southern hemisphere’s ski season is also drawing to a close, with most of the 100 odd ski areas south of the Equator calling it a day by the end of the month.
But at the same time there’s excitement building as summer draws to a close, and we really start looking forward to the ski season ahead. For most of us that means looking towards a ski trip in December at the earliest, but in fact there are places open this very day, or opening very soon, where you can get onto the slopes. There may even be fresh snow (it can fall any day of the year at the high altitudes concerned), and the ski centres are likely to be offering you the chance to demo 2015 season ski equipment.
What’s for certain is that the slopes will be quiet, and if you fly out the airline ticket prices are likely to be lower than summer or winter – so hopefully that means it’s a win, win, win, win, win, for September skiers and snowboarders!
So where to go?
All the ski areas in France are closed until October, and Passo Stelvio will probably be the only centre open in Italy once Cervinia’s summer opening is over, but Austria’s Hintertux glacier is a safe bet year-round. By October up to eight Austrian ski areas are open – more than half of the northern hemisphere total between them, but most won’t open until later in September, with the Pitztal, one of Austria’s highest, usually among the first to open.
The Swiss resorts of Saas-Fee and Zermatt are both open right through September.
Zermatt, in fact, has a special attraction on 13–14 September, with the annual Shepherd Festival. The event features an entertaining award ceremony for what’s determined by the judges to be the best-looking Valais blacknose sheep, and for the Shepherd of the Year.
The Festival takes place at the Schweigmatten/Furi, and the resort says that, “The day offers plenty of opportunities to marvel at the attractive and affectionately coiffed sheep.”
A varied festive programme is organised for young and old alike, and Zermatt’s mascot, Wolli the sheep will, of course, attend the festivities personally, as he will also be celebrating his birthday on the 13th.
In the rest of the world, assuming the snow has fallen in abundance, most resorts in Argentina, Australia, Chile, and New Zealand should stay open until mid- to late-September, some into October.
In North America there’s rarely anywhere open in September, the only month in the year there isn’t, although last year an unexpected 60cm of snowfall in Washington state about this time led to several areas opening early for a few days until it all melted, so who knows! High areas like Arapahoe Basin and Loveland in Colorado are often snowmaking from late-September.
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