This Week’s Headlines:
- Heavy snow in the Alps, set to continue.
- Some of North Americas biggest resorts – Lake Louise and Mammoth, opening this Friday.
- Scottish slopes may open imminently after week of snow.
- US first country in North America to have the number of ski areas open hit double figures.
- More areas open in Scandinavia.
- First eastern North American ski areas have opened in Quebec and Vermont.
As we enter November the build up to the full start of winter 2013-14 continues almost unabated in most of the world’s main skiing regions. There has been heavy snow in the past week first in the Eastern and then in the Western Alps bringing large accumulations to Austrians then French ski areas, in many cases right down to valley level. The heavy snowfall is expected to continue over the coming weekend. Up to 20cm of snowfall in 24 hours was reported in Scandinavia and temperatures have been unseasonably cold in Scotland where all five areas are no under a white coat of snow.
In North America momentum continues too with ever bigger-name resorts opening, in most cases thanks to a mix of snowmaking and the big snowfall in the West in the last few days of October. The first eastern ski area has opened too.
It has been a snowy week in the Austrian Alps. The country’s eight glacier ski areas have regularly been reporting 10-30ccm snowfalls in 24 hour periods all week. Some f the biggest falls were reported at Pitztal, with Austria’s highest lifts and already nearly two months in to its season. It reported a 30cm snowfall on Monday, it has had nearly 3 metres of snow fall since it started its season in mid-September and 70cm over the past week. More recently Kaunertal reported 20cm in 24 hours on Wednesday morning. Hintertux still reports a 135cm base although it has been snowing there all week and continues to do so. The stubai glacier reports a one metre base depth with 15cm of fresh snow.
What’s different abut this wave of snow to earlier ones, apart from the volume, is that the snow is falling down to high valleys rather than just at glacier level. Obergurgl, the first area in the country without glacier skiing to rely on, is scheduled to open next Thursday.
After the 10 day opening of Les 2 Alpes over the half-term holiday period, it closed again on Monday, leaving Tignes the sole open French ski area. Anyone lucky enough to have been there on Tuesday this week would have enjoyed 30cm of fresh snow falling in 24 hours for great powder skiing. The snow was of course across the many yet-to-open French areas too, boding well for the start of the season in the area, now just weeks away. For now though Tignes is the only centre open in France again for a few weeks until Val Thorens starts the charge for the main 13-14 openings in two weeks on 23rd November.
Three glacier areas are currently open in Italy with Val Senales with a 2.6m base claiming the deepest snow in the world at present. Cervinia is now open full time after weekend opening in October and has a 1m base with some fresh snow. The third option the Presena Glacier above Passo Tonale is also reporting a one metre base and two intermediate grade runs open.
Switzerland has perhaps had a little less fresh snow than its neighbours but is still looking good for early November. Four areas are currently open as a fifth, Engelberg has a scheduled 11 day maintenance closure running until next Friday 15th November. Year round Zermatt has a 1.9m base. It expects more fresh snow at the weekend with temperatures in the minus-five up to zero range. Also open are Saas Fee, Diavolezza near St Moritz and at Glacier 3000 between Gstaad and les Diablerets which has a 70cm base depth and nine runs open.
Crans Montana and Davos are among resorts planning to open in a week’s time.
After last week’s warm spell in Norway, the snow has returned with up to 20cm in 24 hours reported by some resorts. Bases continue to slowly build across the region and more areas are opening. So far it’s mostly small Norwegian areas like Gol and Gala with 20-30cm base depth but big names like Voss will open at the weekend and Hemsedal is also expected to open soon. In Scandinavia Ruka and Levi (which hosts World cup racing in just over a week’s time0 are also going strong and expected to be joined by Pyha, new in the Inghams brochures this season, on Saturday.
There’s been more fresh-snowfall reported in the Pyrenees. It seems unlikely any areas will open for another 3 – 4 weeks but a healthy base appears to be building for their opening days.
It has been a week of low temperatures and frwquent snow showers on Scottish mountains, leading to speculation (well, from us), that Cairngorm at least (which is looking whitest) may be about to open for the season, they say the snow level is down to 700m and that they’re assessing conditions daily.
It’s all been happening in Canada. North America’s first East Coast resort to open for 2013-14, Mt Sainte Sauveur in Quebec, started turning its lifts at the end of last week thanks to rapid snowmaking and in the West Nakiska and Mt Norquay (Banff) opened at the weekend thanks to a mix of around 50cm of fresh snow and snowmaking. They’re due to be joined in the next 48 hours by some bigger hitters in Canadian skiing – Sunshine and Lake Louise, as well as Marmot Basin at Jasper to the north are all due to open this Friday, 8th November, taking the Alberta open areas count to five.
There’s been more snowfall rolling around Western North America and some serious accumulations reported in Colorado. The list of resorts open in the famous ski state continues to grow with Breckenridge the latest to join (On Friday 8th October). Mammoth has also opened in California (on Thursday 7th November) joining Sugar Bowl and Boreal. Utah’s Solitude is also expected to be the first in the state to open tomorrow (Friday, 8th November). Along with Wild Mountain in Minnesota and Timberline in Oregon, the US is the first northern hemisphere country to report the number of open areas in double figures for 13-14.