Winter 2018 is in full swing in the Southern Hemisphere whilst in Europe and North America less than 10 areas are open for glacier skiing and boarding in August through one of the hottest months of the year – and in one of the hottest summers yet recorded.
Just six glacier ski areas are open in the Alps at the start of August but only five are due to last through the month as Tignes (pictured above last month) plans to end its summer skiing season on the first Sunday of the month.
The other options are the Hintertux and Molltal glaciers in Austria; Les 2 Alpes in France (open to September 1st); Passo Stelvio in Italy and recently re-opened Saas Fee along with neighbouring Zermatt in Switzerland.
It’s hot in the Alps with double figure temps on most of the glaciers in the afternoons after the ski day is over but so far snow cover appears to be holding up – unlike last year when several had to temporarily close after the heat melted snow cover from the underlying ice.
The heat has however led to the premature closures of two of Norway’s three summer ski areas, the Stryn and Galdhoppigen glaciers. The latter, on Scandinavia’s highest slopes, was due to stay open to November but admitted defeat more than three months early at the end of July. It says it has snow stockpiled under cover and hopes to re-open, spreading it on its slopes, when temps get cooler in the early autumn.
The country’s Folgefonn (“Fonna”) glacier is therefore the only one still open, it reports a health 2m base.
Very little open in North America in August. The only real lift-served option is the Palmer Snowfield above Timberline Lodge in Oregon but there’s also a summer snow camp on the high altitude slopes of Copper Mountain in Colorado.
Nowhere is open in Canada since Whistler finished its summer skiing last month but Big White did report a little fresh summer snowfall in July!
Argentina’s ski areas have been posting images of some very snowy conditions and heavy snowfall, but so far bases are not really building too deep at most areas, with the exception of Cavialhue which is at 1.9m already -the deepest in the southern hemisphere. Catedral, which operates the most lifts of any resorts in the southern hemisphere, and Las Lenas, which has the most freeride terrain, are both reporting powder conditions at times, despite only having 40-60cm bases so far.
So far it has not been the most memorable winter in Chile, with mostly dry conditions and bases still quite modest at 50-100cm across the country, but there have none-the-less been some significant snowfalls at Valle Nevado and Portillo (pictured last month above) and most of the country’s lifts are turning and runs open.
Australia’s ski resorts are enjoying a good 2018 winter with some of the coldest, snowiest weather of the past 20 years. Temperatures have stayed low for snowmaking and natural snow has kept falling too so bases at most of the country’s leading resorts are at the metre mark or deeper – a very good base for ski resorts in the country. Most trails are open (Perisher, the country’s biggest ski area has more than 100 groomed in fact) and Thredbo and Perisher are up at 1.2m (four foot) bases.
New Zealand’s ski areas have been enjoying regular snowfalls throughout July and now have the deepest bases in the country, nearing 2m now at the country’s biggest ski area on Mt Ruapehu on the North Island. But bases are looking healthy pretty much across the country and almost all lifts are now operating and most runs open too. There have been a few severe weather closures at times but also several perfect powder days.
Lesotho & South Africa
August is the last month of the ski season for the two small ski centres in southern Africa – Tiffindell in South Africa and Afriski in Lesotho. Both have had a pretty good season so far with several natural snowfalls giving full on winter conditions at times and snowmaking, as normal, maintaining snow cover in between times. Both centres are pretty much fully operational with Tiffindell organising some FIS sanctioned ski races recently.