(Pic of Coronet Peak, New Zealand, last Thursday, courtesy of Morgan McFie)
Thanks to our friends at J2Ski.com for the snow report for the month ahead…
September is when we can officially start to get excited about the coming ski season. The first of the pre-Sochi Olympics international competitions have taken place in the southern hemisphere and the first snowfalls of the season have happened in the Alps and the Rockies. The southern hemisphere’s 2013 season is also starting to wind down, adding to the feeling that the north is next, although its still snowing heavily in many areas, with several New Zealand resorts reporting 25cm of new snow in 24 hours in the last days of August. Heavy snowfall adding up to 15cm to glaciers in the Alps in the last week of August helped get pulses racing too.
In fact September is traditionally is one of the two quietest months in world ski area openings (along with June) particularly in the northern hemisphere as summer skiing ends if it hasn’t already at most glacier resorts but few really get started for autumn. There’ll be no where (except indoors) to snow ski in France and in North America the only (nearly) year round ski area of Timberline in Oregon chooses September for its annual closure month. If we do get a lot of early snow the place to look is Austria where all eight glacier centres are already to open or ready to as soon as they can…
A quarter of Austria’s eight glacier ski centres are open as we enter September, all eight may be by the end of the month, if there’s plenty of fresh snow this month. Warm summer temperatures had been melting snow bases through the summer but the two Austrian glacier centres still open have several feet still lying thanks to the huge spring falls, topped up by that fresh snow at the end of August. There’s still 22km of piste open on the year-round Hintertux glacier and the Molltal glacier says there are three runs open with snow depths of a rather variable 5 – 170cm.
Glacier resorts planning to open in September include Solden on the 7th, Pitztal on the 14th and Kaunertal on the 21st. These opening dates will be subject to change according to conditions. Kitzsteinhorn, which currently has a 50ocm base but isn’t open, says it may open from mid-September if conditions continue to be favourable. The Stubai has also not predicted a date but will open as soon as conditions are good enough in September. That said it’ reports snow depths currently down to 10cm so it could do with a good dump first. The Dachstein, which says it tries to open for skiing year round, has a similar problem with 10cm cover and no runs open at present.
Alpe d’Huez, Les 2 Alpes and Tignes all ended their summer skiing in August and Tignes, which in recent season re-opened on the last weekend of September, this year says it doesn’t plan to open until October 12th, subject to snow conditions.
Cervinia, where the snow is currently about 1.2m thick, is due to end its summer skiing season on Sunday 8th September, before re-opening for weekends in October. The other Italian option is Passo Stelvio which should remain open through the month.
Year-round Zermatt, along with Saas Fee, which began its long 2013-14 ski season in July are both open with similar conditions to other alpine glacier areas and base depths around 1.2m base. Zermatt’s operating Europe’s highest lifts and Saas Fee offers a half pipe in its summer terrain park which isn’t available in the winter months. The Jungfraujoch at the top of the railway line from Wengen and Grindelwald is also open for skiing and boarding to October 13th on its small area with one lift.
Norway’s three spring and summer glacier ski areas are believed to have all now closed for the season.
Ski areas in Colorado such as Loveland and A Basin usually turn on snowmaking in September although they rarely have enough accumulated to open before early October. Timberline in Oregon, the only nearly-year-round resort with lifts open in North America through the summer closes on 2nd September for six weeks before re-opening on October 10th So this is the month when there’s nowhere really to ski, with lift assistance, except perhaps on an artificial surface slope like the Snowflex at Liberty University in Virginia, on the whole continent.
Afriski in Lesotho ends its season on September 1st. Tiffindell in South Africa’s first season officially open after two closed will also close for 2013 at the start of this month.
Although not an epic season for most Argentinian resorts there were some substantial August snowfalls and conditions at the start of September are relatively good with, typically 60-120cm on upper slopes, nearer a foot down at base levels. Most resorts are open through September but closing around the last weekend of the month. Catedral, the largest resort in South America and with the greatest lift infrastructure in the Southern Hemisphere, reports a 30-110cm base and will close on September 30th.
Like Argentina, September is the last month of the season for most ski areas in Chile. For most it has been quite a good winter, at Portillo base depths are around 1-1.2m, it’s had around five metres of snow so far this season, and it was snowing again last week. At Valle Nevado it’s a similar, if slightly less snowy picture – three metres, season-to-date, fresh snow still falling, current base around 60cm on average.
Australia’s ski areas have seen the best conditions of the season so far during August with base depths passing the metre mark for the first time at many following falls of up to 80cm at a time during the past few weeks. As with most southern hemisphere ski resorts (excluding New Zealand), most Aussie areas close towards the end of September but thanks to all the fresh snow it’s looking like a good last month of the 2013 ski season down under.
Conditions are looking excellent at most new Zealand ski areas with base depths of 2-3m now the norm on upper slopes at several. Mt Hutt, which was one of the areas to report a 25cm in 24 hours as the latest fall at the end of August has announced plans to stay open to at least mid-October because of the accumulated base. Mt Ruapehu, which is often the last area to close in the southern hemisphere each year in mid-November, reports a 2.5m base at Turoa.
Rest Of The World
There are more than 50 indoor snow slopes operating worldwide including slopes more than 500m long in France, Germany and Lithuania as well as the six British centres.