The 2019-20 ski season is getting closer and there’s already a dozen glacier ski areas open in Europe, so why wait?!
Here’s the lowdown on here’s open already and which areas will be joining them over the next few weeks.
Austria has more than half of the already-open glacier ski areas operating, with six centres open fordownhill skiing and the Dachstein offering cross-country skiing. An eight glacier, the Kitzsteinhorn above Kaprun, plans to open “early October.”
The six areas already open are Hintertux, Kaunertal, Molltal, Pitztal, Solden and Stubai. Most have about 5km of runs open so far, but Hintertux days it has 20km. Solden (pictured top) will host the first Alpine skiing races of the 2019-20 World Cup at the end of this month.
Kitzbuhel also plans to open later this month. It uses snow saved from last season, stockpiled over summer than re-spread-out on a few high slopes – a process known as snow farming – to be able to open and start a 200+ day season to next May. It will be the first ski area without a glacier in the Alps to open for 2019-20.
Tignes had aimed to open for the season on the last weekend of September but has had to delay, as last year, after a hot summer left inadequate snow cover. So it will hopefully open at a yet to be decided date this month. Another question mark hangs over Les 2 Alpes plans to open for its traditional week of glacier snow fun at the end of the month. The resort is stressing other mountain sports are available for the week in case snowsports aren’t possible, but fingers crossed there’s a big snowfall between now and then.
Two Italian areas, Passo Stelvio and Val Senales, are oth currently open. A third, Cervinia, will join them on the last Saturday of this month.
There have been two Swiss areas open since July: Saas Fee and Zermatt (which is in fact open year round). Both have around 15km of slopes open plus terrain parks. It will remain just them in Switzerland for the start of October but others are due to open through this month including, possibly, the Titlis glacier above Engelberg on the 5th, the Diavolezza Glacier, one of the three St Moritz ski areas a fortnight later on the 19th and Laax on Saturday the 26th. Andermatt is pictured above after an early September snowfall.
The Galdhopiggen glacier ski area in Norway, located on Northern Europe’s highest mountain, re-opened last month after an unexpected six week closure due to unprecedented warm temperatures. It should stay open through October, closing at the start of November. Elsewhere, Ruka in Finland will open three runs on Friday October 4th using snow saved from last season in a ‘snow farming’ operation initially. Pictured below.
No other ski areas in Europe are expected to open before November although it’s possible, if there’s a big October snowfall, as happened in the Pyrenees in late October last year, one or two areas may open elsewhere on the continent.
There have been plenty of pre-season snowfalls in Canada, including multiple falls at Sunshine, pictured above last month, but no Canadian resorts are currently expected to open until the start of November when Nakiska and several Banff ski areas are set to open in Alberta.
There have been some big end-of-September snowfalls in Western USA and the battle is on to be the first in the country to open for 2019-20. Contenders include timberline in Oregon, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin and loveland in Colorado, Killington in Vermont or Sunday River in Maine, aming others. It usually depends on who has the best run at snowmaking over a few days of cold weather, and that’s often the resorts in colorado that have the advanatge of having soe of the highrest slopes in the world, more than two miles above sea level.
The Southern Hemisphere
It’s the final few weeks of the southern hemmisphere’s 2019 season at the start of October.
All major areas in Chile and most in Argentina have already closed, but Catedral near Bariloche in Argentina says it will stay open to the 14th.
The snow is stillmore than two metres deep in Australia at some areas but closure day for most that haven’t closed already will be the 6th or 7th of October for the season.
New Zealand usually has the ski areas open latest in the season with Turoa and Whakapaa often open to late October, occasionally even in to ‘Snowvember’ and snow deoths look good for that to be the case this year too. All other Kiwi areas are expected to have ended their seasons by the 14th.