When it comes to snow and ski resorts, Mother Nature is rarely even-handed when she distributes her bounty.
The snowstorm that walloped parts of the South Island of New Zealand on July 21 and 22 is a case in point. The ski fields of the east were buried by the white stuff. Mt Hutt, near Christchurch, reported 90cm of fresh snow – which was blown about all over the place, so that the cover off-piste alternated between patches of scoured ice and wind-packed, avalanche-prone drifts. On piste there’s now an impressive two metres of snow packed on the trails.
By contrast, further west the Remarkables near Queenstown reported only 5cm of new snow on Saturday, with a further 6cm this morning. The settled cover here is 40-75cm deep, which is a bit thin for midwinter. Here’s how it looked first thing this morning.
Still, there’s been more skiing on offer in The Remarkables than in Mount Hutt over the last three days. On Sunday, the Canterbury resort struggled to clear its approach road, and even when it did, the avalanche risk meant much of the off-piste terrain was off limits. Today, high winds have limited the amount of skiing on offer too. Tomorrow promises to be calmer and – avalanche risk permitting – the locals will be able to get a proper taste of the new snow.
Meanwhile, the forecast for the South Island is for a little more snow this week, followed by a cold, clear weekend.
In Australia, last week brought more of the right stuff to the Snowy Mountain resorts, as you’ll see from the latest “review of the week” video from Thredbo. This was followed by a 5cm top-up on Sunday night, and there’s the chance of a little more snow later this week as well. All in all, July has been a good month in the Australian resorts, after a slow start to the season.
There’s been new snow in the Andes too. Most of it has fallen in the south, but Valle Nevado near Santiago Chile had enough to fill in a lot of the off-piste tracks yesterday evening, and was wearing a splendid fresh coat of white this morning.
Meanwhile, in the Alps…
The new snow is of course good news for anyone planning some glacier skiing in the near future, and there’s more expected tomorrow – down to around 2500m in Austria, and 2800m in the French Alps. This summer has generally been warm so far (the Pisaillas glacier above Val d’Isere closed early as a result). So a top-up is very welcome.
By Thursday, however, the skies will have cleared again and temperatures will have jumped, which will please Peter and Felice who are in the Alps to hike and bike, rather than ski.
Meanwhile, in Val d’Isere, they’re laying pipes.
Well, the lift company is laying pipes, anyway: to boost the water supply to the resort’s state-of-the-art snowmaking system. “Production was limited by leaks and legal restrictions on pumping water from streams with fish,” says John Yates-Smith of Val d’Isere chalet specialists YSE. “The new pipes from above Le Fornet apparently resolve both problems, and we’re promised double quantities [of man-made snow] next winter.”
For more on summer in the Alps, check out our new Summer section.