So, the ski season got going in New Zealand on June 8, when Coronet Peak, near Queenstown opened for the season. After a couple of May blizzards the cover was pretty good, given the date.
Then it got warm and wet
On June 15, Mount Hutt in Canterbury opened for the season as well – experiencing “mixed weather conditions” for its opening weekend. However, by Sunday there was snow.
Which turned into this, on Tuesday
And now this…
The heavy snow has come from a powerful winter storm – which is dragging frigid air straight up from Antarctica, and it will continue to bring snow to the South Island ski resorts until Sunday morning. So even though Mount Hutt’s current fresh snow total of 120cm looks impressive, it will be significantly higher once the skies clear.
Snow in this quantity is a mixed blessing. It’s great PR for the NZ ski fields but it’ll create all kinds of headaches too. Mount Hutt was closed today and is likely to stay that way for some time because of the avalanche risk across the ski area and along the access road. Until the wind drops and the skies clear it will be hard for the helicopters to do any avalanche blasting. Best keep an eye on the resort’s Facebook page for updates if you’re planning a powder party.
There’s been less snow Queenstown/Wanaka way: Coronet Peak’s snow report talks of just 21cm today, and the resort was even able to open a few runs. But at least that means it’s easier to deal with. Conditions permitting, Cardrona and The Remarkables will be opening too.
By the way, if you’re tempted by all this snow, check out our guide to the best places to ski in New Zealand.
Winter comes to Australia too – but less dramatically
Melbourne has just recorded its coldest June night for 11 years. Meanwhile, north-east in the Snowy Mountains, the ski season is slowly coming to life. There hasn’t been significant snowfall yet. But it has been possible to run the snow cannons: Perisher was working 206 of them last night in a bid to boost its limited early-season cover.
Meanwhile, in the Andes, sunshine, sunshine, sunshine
At the end of May there was heavy snow in the Andes near Santiago, which encouraged Valle Nevado to open early, on June 8. Since then, the sun’s been out, almost every day, and they could do with more of the white stuff. There’s no sign of any significant storms in the forecast, and we notice that Portillo has put its opening day back to July 6 because of the lack of new snow. Fingers crossed winter gets its act together there soon.
Blazing summer heat in the Alps
Remember the extraordinary blizzards that hit the Alps in May? They’re long gone. The sun’s been out and temperatures have soared. In Innsbruck, Austria, the temperature is supposed to hit +34C today; and even at 2100m in Tignes, France – which is being blasted by thunderstorms today – it’s expected to be +15C, in the rain.
Needless to say, this is going to have a detrimental effect on the snow on the glaciers. But they do at least have plenty of cover, and will offer good summer skiing for some time to come.
Here’s how it was looking on the Pisaillas glacier above Val d’Isere a couple of days ago.
And this is how it’s looking on the Hintertux glacier today. Note the temperature, even at 3,250m…
In the Alps, the summer glacier season is now in full swing. Along with the Pisaillas and Hintertux glaciers, you can ski above Tignes, Zermatt, and the Stubaital (until July 5). Les Deux Alpes is joining them on Saturday, the Kitzsteinhorn on June 28, and Saas-Fee on July 27.
Fancy making some turns yourself this summer? Then check out our guide to the best resorts for summer skiing.
|France: the regular ski season is now done and dusted in France, although the summer skiing season on the Pisaillas glacier above Val d’Isere is underway, as it is in Tignes. Les Deux Alpes joins them on June 22. The weather’s currently very warm and stormy.|
|Switzerland: You can still ski on the glacier above Zermatt, although the links over to Cervinia are closed until June 26. Saas Fee’s glacier will be open from July 27.|
|Austria: Austria has now flipped to summer-skiing with all resorts now closed apart from the glaciers. These include the Hintertux, the Stubai glacier. The Kitzsteinhorn glacier is currently closed but will reopen on June 28.|
|Italy: access to high-altitude skiing above Cervinia will be possible from June 26.|
|Andorra: Andorra’s ski resorts are now closed for the summer.|
|Western USA: all the mainstream ski resorts are now closed, but you can still make turns at Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in Oregon.|
|Western Canada: The ski season is now done and dusted in Canada – although the glacier on Blackcomb mountain, above Whistler will be open from Saturday, June 22 to July 28 for summer skiing. Check out our guide to the best resorts for summer skiing for more information.|