Colorado is up and skiing!
After just over two weeks of snow-making, and helped by a couple of top-ups from Mother Nature, Arapahoe Basin opened for the season on Sunday, October 13. There was only one trail to ski on, mind you, but that didn’t deter a big crowd a local skiers from dropping by to celebrate.
A-Basin isn’t the first resort in the US to have opened for skiing this season. That honour belongs to Crystal Mountain in Washington State, which had a short, but eye-catching three-hour opening on October 1. But at least A-Basin beat its long-time rival, Loveland, to be the first to spin its lifts in Colorado. Loveland has said it won’t be open until later this week.
Does this mean Colorado is heading for a strong start to winter? Well, it ain’t necessarily so, I’m afraid. A-Basin’s opening is marginally earlier than last year’s, on October 17, but early or late, the opening date isn’t a signal for either a good or a poor start to the ski season. Back in 2010, A-Basin opened very late, on October 25, and that turned into the best start to winter for a generation.
Meanwhile, back in the Alps…
Any Snowfiend worth his or her ski boots will know that last week ended in glorious fashion in the Alps. A mighty storm engulfed the eastern half of the range, and dumped up to 70cm of snow in some parts of the Tirol in Austria.
Needless to say, once the skies had cleared, the Austrian glaciers were in superb form for those lucky enough to be skiing.
Here’s how the Pitztal Glacier was looking on Friday.
And this was the Kitzsteihorn glacier on Sunday.
Further west there was less snow, but still enough to give the Grande Motte glacier above Tignes a good send-off (check out one of the off-piste lines that was being skied here). It opened for skiing on Saturday and will stay open until the late spring.
The weather now is rather less glorious with skies cloudy, and rain in the forecast – especially for tomorrow. The precipitation will fall as snow on the glaciers, but lower down the white stuff we’ve been admiring for the last three days will soon be gone. It’s a shame, but it’s also a typical feature of an October blizzard. As soon as the wind changes direction, the temperature jumps and the snowline starts racing back uphill again.
Never mind: at least there’s a good choice of glaciers to ski on, and conditions, especially in the east, are superb at the moment. Check out our guide to the best resorts for early season skiing for our pick of resorts for a pre-Christmas escape.
|France: The Grande Motte glacier above Tignes is open once more for skiing.|
|Switzerland: You can ski on the glacier above Zermatt. Saas Fee’s glacier is open too, and the snow report talks of up to 160cm of cover on its pistes.|
|Austria: see our main report. The Austrian glaciers are the place to be now, thanks to last week’s snow. You can currently ski on the Hintertux, Stubai, Rettenbach, Kaunertal, Pitztal, Molltal and Kitzsteinhorn glaciers. On the Hintertux glacier, the snow report records cover, on-piste, up to 135cm deep.|
|Italy: the glacier above the Val Senales/Schalstal in the South Tyrol is now open for skiing. Cervinia’s lifts will be open to skiers on October 19-20 and October 26-27, before a daily opening from November 1.|
|Andorra: Andorra’s ski resorts are currently closed.|
|Western USA: See our main report. In Colorado, Arapahoe Basin is now open, and Loveland should be open this week. Meanwhile, in Oregon, Timberline Lodge is now open for skiing at weekends. Next up is Copper Mountain, which is expected to open on November 1.|
|Western Canada: Canada’s resorts are currently closed.|