This weekend, we moved a step closer to winter: thanks to the opening of the first pistes to skiers on the Stubai, Rettenbach and Kaunertal glaciers in the Tirol, Austria – and on the glacier above the Val Senales/Schalstal in the South Tyrol in Italy.
That brings to nine the total number of Alpine glaciers open to skiers. In Austria, the Hintertux, Pitztal and Molltal glaciers were already open – and the lifts are also spining on the glaciers above Zermatt and Saas-Fee in Switzerland. On the Hintertux glacier the snow report records cover up to 75cm deep.
This weekend also saw the opening of the Betterpark on the Hintertux glacier. Work is still continuing on the biggest jumps on the pro line; but the easy line, medium and jib line are already up and running.
Generally, the glaciers are opening earlier than last year, and it’s not hard to see why.
There was snow at the end of August…
Snow on September 11…
And, most memorably, snow on September 17.
In fact, all snow has made things pretty tricky for the shapers at the Betterpark terrain park on the Hintertux – so they edited together a short film to commemorate their snowy September.
However, it is worth pointing out that the weather has now warmed up significantly in the Alps, and is likely to stay that way until the weekend. The cover on the glaciers is good: but at lower altitudes all the lovely white stuff we saw last week has vanished. One view will suffice to make the point. Compare the scene at Plan Maison above Cervinia on September 17 with the same view today.
So although some forecasters are predicting a cold autumn and a chilly start to winter – notably La Chaine Meteo in France – we can’t bank on it yet…
Meanwhile, in Colorado…
The end of September is the time when the high-altitude ski areas of Loveland and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado begin their race to be the first non-glacier ski areas to open – in both North America and the Alps.
The first signs are promising.This was Loveland on Friday…
Here’s how Arapahoe was looking yesterday.
There was snow up top yesterday in Breckenridge too.
Breckenridge is scheduled to open on November 8. But both Loveland and A-Basin should be going long before then. Loveland says it will start running its snow cannons in four days’ time – to start laying down a base on its first groomed trails.
And in Alaska…
In the southern hemisphere, the season’s not over yet
This was Portillo in Chile on Saturday.
However, it won’t be long before the resorts start to close. The Remarkables on the South Island will be one of first ski fields in NZ to shut, on September 29. In Chile, Valle Nevado and Portillo are likely to close then as well, as is Perisher in Australia. And that’s just fine and dandy with us, because here at Welove2ski all we really care about now is the season ahead on this side of the planet. So hurry up winter. GIVE US YOUR SNOW.
|France: currently, all the French glaciers are closed for skiing. The Grande Motte glacier above Tignes reopens on October 12.
|Switzerland: You can ski on the glacier above Zermatt. At last, Saas Fee’s glacier is open for late-summer skiing, too.
|Austria: see our main report. The Austrian glacier-skiing pre-season is now in full swing, despite the Indian-summer weather this week. You can currently ski on the Hintertux, Stubai, Rettenbach, Kaunertal, Pitztal, and Molltal glaciers. The Kitzsteinhorn will open next week.
|Italy: the glacier above the Val Senales/Schalstal in the South Tyrol is now open for skiing.
|Andorra: Andorra’s ski resorts are currently closed.
|Western USA: all the mainstream ski resorts are closed, but you can make turns at Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in Oregon.
|Western Canada: Canada’s resorts are currently closed.