Thanks to early snowfall, the ski season is already underway in the Andes. In the Tres Valles, near Santiago in Chile, the lifts starting spinning last weekend. El Colorado was the first resort to open. Neighbouring La Parva and Valle Nevado are set to join it before the end of the month.
Here’s a taste of El Colorado’s opening weekend.
And this is how it looked in Valle Nevado on Sunday.
Valle Nevado reckons it has 80cm of settled snow on its pistes, and with more snow (and another cold snap) in the forecast for the end of the week, it should get off to a flying start.
There’s been snow further south, too. Pictured below is how the Argentinian resort of Catedral Alta Patagonia (aka Bariloche) looked on Sunday. Down here, however, the ski season isn’t scheduled to start until June 17.
The ski fields of New Zealand also had a taste of winter last weekend, as temperatures plunged and blizzards swept across the South Island. Snowfall totals varied considerably. The Remarkables, near Queenstown, notched up half a metre of snow. Neighbouring Coronet Peak claimed only 5cm.
Here’s how The Remarks looked during one of the snowstorms.
This was Coronet Peak after the clouds had lifted, on Sunday.
Despite the fierce weather, there are no plans yet to bring opening days forward – which is a sensible policy, given the flukey nature of the NZ climate at this time of year. Mount Hutt, near Christchurch, will be the first big ski field to open, on June 9.
Meanwhile, in the Alps…
After the heavy snow of late April and early May, the cover on the Alpine glaciers is in excellent condition – as you’ll see from this photo of Betterpark on the Hintertux glacier in Austria, last Thursday.
However, the weather has warmed up considerably now. With the daytime freezing point ranging between 3000m and 3800m across the northern Alps this week, spring skiing conditions are now the norm. Expect hard-packed pistes each morning, which will soften as the day wears on, and eventually turn a bit slushy.
At the moment, skiing is still on offer in a handful of high altitude areas. In Hintertux and Zermatt the lifts will be running all year (weather permitting). Meanwhile the Kaunertal glacier stays open till June 5, the Stubai till June 18, and the Kitzsteinhorn till July 23.
There’s more information in our guide to the best resorts for summer skiing.
Mind you, the main business of the summer in the Alps is not skiing: and resorts will be delighted by the onset of warmer weather. In the Skiwelt in the Tirol, Austria, the lifts are already running, for the benefit of hikers, bikers, and trail runners. Here’s how it looked at the Hexenwasser water park above Soll earlier today.
In Trentino in Italy, the Dolomiti Paganella Bike Park in Molveno is already open at weekends, and in France, the bike park in Les Gets opens for a summer preview on Thursday. Before we know it, the summer season will be in full swing…
For more on summer in the Alps, check out features such as our guide to the best summer resorts in the Tirol and the best mountain biking resorts, as well as our new feature on five ways to make your summer holiday brilliant in the French Alps.