For anyone fired up about the coming winter, last week was good’un. Not only did we have spectacular – albeit short-lived – snowfall in the Alps (check out our October 16 snow report for pictures): last Wednesday also saw the start of the Colorado ski season, as Arapahoe Basin opened its first trail to the skiing public.
The best picture of the week came from Scandinavia, where there’s been snow, too: enough, in fact, to allow local skier Erik Sunnerheim to hike to the top of the Skutan above Are, Sweden on Thursday. If there’s one shot that sums up the way we’re all feeling now – it’s this. If I had a mountain I could climb right now, that’s what I’d be doing, too…
As I said earlier, the snow that fell last week didn’t last long. A powerful thaw set in almost instantly, and the snowline went scurrying back uphill. That’s fine – it’s only October: and besides, the mid-range forecast is starting to look very interesting. There’s a chance – nothing definite yet – that cold air is going to sink down from the north, bump into warm, humid air over the Alps, and make snow – lots of snow, next weekend. That is of course great news for those of us who can’t wait for winter: but it’s much less helpful if you’re trying to run World Cup ski races. Next Saturday and Sunday, October 27 and 28, also sees the opening races of the World Cup season on the glacier above Solden, Austria.
Anyway, keep your eyes on the Welove2ski snow forecast over the next couple of days, to see how certain this change in the weather becomes. I’ve got my fingers crossed this is the start of a memorable late autumn/early winter. But I’m not too confident just yet. Over the last few weeks temperatures have been see-sawing wildly, and yesterday rose above 20C in some Alpine Valleys. We’ll probably see a thaw or too yet before the lifts starting spinning in most resorts.
Meanwhile, here’s a rather graphic demonstration of how quickly the snow melted…
|France: There are four pistes open on the glacier above Tignes, where the temperature is an unseasonal +3C. Meanwhile, the glacier above Les Deux Alpes will open briefly from October 27 to November 4 – and again for the winter season on December 1.
|Switzerland: The glaciers above Saas-Fee, Engelberg and Zermatt are open for skiing. Above Zermatt, there are now eight pistes open and you can ski down to Trockener Steg. Currently, at Saas-Fee the cover is 129cm deep – and the temperature at 3500m is +4C, which shows how warm it is in the Alps right now.
|Austria: On the Hintertux glacier 41km of skiing is on offer, and the cover is 95cm deep – 30cm deeper than it was before last week’s storm. However, the temperature today is +4C, so conditions will be hard in the morning and a bit wet in the sun at lunchtime. You can also ski on the Molltal, Pitztal, Kitzsteinhorn and Stubai glaciers. You can also ski above Solden.
|Italy: Glacier skiing is possible again above Val Senales. The lifts up to the glacier above Cervinia will open on October on October 27.
|Andorra: Andorra’s ski areas are closed.
|Western USA: See main report. Arapahoe Basin in Colorado is already open. Loveland nearby will open on Tuesday October 23. After that, the next resort opening should be at Copper Mountain on November 2.
|Western Canada: See main report. There’s been some snow, but all the mainstream ski resorts in Canada are currently closed.