I know I sound like a scratched record. But, once again, the only place in the southern hemisphere to be skiing right now is the South Island of New Zealand.
It’s been nearly a fortnight since the one-metre dump of June 18-19. And strong westerly winds have disrupted lift operations from time to time. But all the same, the tenor of the weather so far this winter has been consistently cold and snowy, and it looks set to stay that way, in the short term at least.
Pictured above is how it was looking at the Queenstown resort of The Remarkables today, which opened at the weekend after building-work delays to its start date. There was 10cm of very wind-blown snow there on Monday, and settled snow depths are a respectable 80-115cm deep. There are still pockets of windblown powder to be skied off-piste. Meanwhile Treble Cone, near Wanaka, reports 131-195cm of cover across the mountain. Here too there was wind-packed powder to be skied in some of the gullies, away from the groomed trails.
There’s more snow in the forecast for the South Island, especially at the weekend.
Meanwhile, in Australia and the Andes…
In the Snowy Mountains of Australia, snow-making and assiduous grooming is keeping the season alive in a prolonged dry spell, and it’s no surprise that the resorts with the most snow cannons have the best skiing. In Perisher, for example, 218 snow cannons were working last night, and as a result 20 lifts and 24 runs were open today. Meanwhile in Thredbo, they had 140 cannons running last night, and eight trails are open.
Here’s how the Towers trail was looking in Perisher on Saturday. Not bad, really, for a snow-drought…
Meanwhile, in the Andes, it’s been even drier, and the slopes of many resorts near Santiago are brown and almost completely snowless. Last year, the season got going there in mid-June. This time round, no-one really knows when skiing will start.
Further south there’s been more snow – and some ski areas, such as Chapelco, are open although snow depths on the piste (35-40cm) are less than spectacular. However, even here Catedral Alta Patagonia has delayed its opening.
In the Alps, they’re having a heatwave
In common with most of Europe, the Alps are sizzling right now. Pictured above is the Grande Motte glacier, above Tignes, which opened for its summer skiing season on Saturday. Even up here, the temperature will be +10C this afternoon, which means the cover will be thinning. Let’s hope it cools down up there soon. British ski school Snoworks starts its summer-skiing programme there on Saturday.
Meanwhile, at village level in Tignes (2100m) it will be a balmy +21C, and elsewhere in the Alps, on the streets of Chamonix, they’re expecting highs of +33C. Ouch. The only thing worth doing when it’s that warm is finding a mountain stream and sticking your feet in it…
For more on the summer scene in the mountains, beyond the glaciers, check out our features on golf, mountain biking, cycling, adventure parks, the Tirol in summer, and nine of the best mountain resorts for a summer holiday.
|France: The Pisaillas glacier above Val d’Isere is now open for skiing, until July 12, along with Les Deux Alpes (until Aug 29) and Tignes (until August 9).|
|Switzerland: currently Zermatt reports 165cm of snow at 2900m. Here, 13 lifts are currently open, serving 16 pistes.|
|Austria: three glaciers are currently open in Austria for skiing – the Hintertux, the Stubai and the Molltal. On the Hintertux glacier, the snow is up to 220cm deep on the pistes, and 21km of pistes are open.|
|Italy: there’s now lift access from Cervinia to the high-altitude pistes between Italy and Switzerland.|
|Andorra: Andorra’s ski resorts have now closed for skiing.|
|Western USA: In Colorado Arapahoe Basin has now closed at the end of another very long season. It’ll be open again in October.|
|Western Canada: in Whistler the short glacier season on Blackcomb mountain began on June 20 and will run until July 26.|