Almost all of the glacier ski areas in Europe that would normally open between June and September for summer skiing in 2020 have either already re-opened or say they will do in June.
Summer Skiing in Europe
Four glaciers are opening in Austria (Hintertux, Kaunertal, Molltal and the Kitzsteinhorn), three in France (Les 2 Alpes, Tignes and Val d’Isere), as well as Zermatt in Switzerland and (they hope) Passo Stelvio in Italy. Three glaciers in Norway have also opened in May, one (Fonna) reporting the snow 15 metres deep!
“After two months of lockdown, two months of worries and uncertainty, the Les 2 Alpes resort is preparing for its summer opening!” a resort statement issued on May 20th reads.
It continues: “Little by little, thanks to the work of all the professionals of Les 2 Alpes, the possibilities and conditions of opening are becoming clearer and allow us to project more clearly the openings of the resort and our capacity to welcome holidaymakers in compliance with the health rules.”
Part of the keen-ness to open for summer skiing, besides getting some sense of normality back and testing out how social-distancing in ski areas might work in the quieter months before next winter, has been that the fiercely competitive national squads want to get back to training, and they don’t believe they’ll be able to have their normal camps in the southern hemisphere this year.
The summer skiing 2020 season dates have changed a little in some cases. The Kaunertal glacier will only be open for nine days until the date it had always planned to close its 2019-20 season, June 7th, while the Molltal glacier is starting its 11-month long 2020-21 ski season on May 6th, two weeks earlier than the May 20th date it had originally planned.
We can almost argue that next season starts on June 6th in fact!
That, “compliance with the health rules,” Les 2 Alpes speaks, of course, means the ‘new normal’ of limited numbers, increased hygiene and social distancing.
Summer Skiing in North America
Over in North America, the nearly-year-round Timberline ski area in Oregon has re-opened, as have Arapahoe Basin in Colorado and the Beartooth Basin summer ski area should be open through June.
The main issue skiers have if they do want to try to get to the slopes during the pandemic (which many advise against and view as irresponsible) is getting across borders to reach them.
Although borders seem to be re-opening fast on the European mainland, some remain closed for the time being. Thus, the glacier ski areas are really looking at their domestic markets for summer skiing 2020.
For skiers based in the UK, travelling from Britain remains difficult and the message on what is going to happen very confused. Currently, there may be a long quarantine period if you do travel and return to Europe and as the UK has also been, and continues to be, the worst-hit country in Europe by the virus, some nations are opening borders to their neighbours but not to Brits for now.
The Southern Hemisphere
It currently looks like there will be a limited winter ski season in the southern hemisphere from June. However, the pandemic is still very much happening here too at present of course and so borders are closed and social distancing and other measures being worked out. This means that where resorts are open, it will only be for the domestic market this year.
New Zealand is the most advanced and the only country where ski areas have started giving definite opening days in June. The first, Mt Hutt, on June 12th – a week later than originally planned. Most have delayed opening a week or two and some will only open at weekends outside peak periods.
Australia will also have a ski season, with the first resorts opening on June 22nd, a few weeks later than the traditional early June opening date in the country.
In South America, Argentina has had a very severe lockdown and has banned all air travel until September.
Most areas say they currently still hope to open, but one famous name, Las Lenas, announced it won’t open at all this season as it can’t make doing so work logistically/financially they say, even when restrictions are eased.
There’s a different position for the two small areas in southern Africa. Afriski in Lesotho, where there have been very few cases of the virus and the lockdown has been largely lifted, will open on June 14th. Tiffindell in South Africa hasn’t confirmed their opening date with the country still in lockdown there.