Blimey: have you seen what’s happening in Austria this week?
Meanwhile, pictured below is the Stubai glacier this morning. It’s been snowing here since Tuesday too – and there’s about half a metre of fresh cover up there as a result. If the snow stays good and thick, the glacier will be open for skiing until July 4.
Pictured below is the town of Engelberg in Switzerland yesterday.
Pictured below is the scene today at the Stand ski hutte, half-way up the mountain. Skiing is on offer on the glacier until May 25: but not today, because they’ve got to blast for avalanches and clear the pistes. The lift companies reckons 50cm of snow has fallen at altitude so far…
What’s going on? Well, the mainstream ski season may now be over – but that doesn’t mean it has to stop snowing, especially at altitude. In fact, whenever the wind swings round to the north at this time of year, it can get pretty wintry, and in exceptional years, such as 2013, it can carry on snowing into July. (Check out my snow reports from May 30, 2013 and July 4, 2013 for a reminder of that.) Right now, an area of low pressure is swirling about in eastern Europe, and it’s dragging frigid north-easterly air across the region. It’s not moving very quickly, either – and according to our snow forecast for the Alps it will continue snowing in Austria until Friday.
Of course, anyone lucky enough to be Austria in the next three or four days should grab their skis and head to one of the glaciers where the lifts are still running (the Kaunertal and Kitzsteinhorn glaciers are currently open, as well as the Stubai and Hintertux). It’s already been pretty powdery up there – as this recent video from the Hintertux shows. This weekend, conditions are likely to be even better.
Bear in mind, however, that the season can flip back into spring just as quickly – and it’s likely to warm up quickly from Monday onwards. The best time to ski will be on Saturday and Sunday, as the skies start to clear. And if you’re planning to ski off-piste, make sure you hire a guide, and are properly equipped.
By the way, if you’re hoping to ski this summer, check out guides to the best resorts for summer skiing, and where to ski in New Zealand. In the Alps, the summer glacier-skiing season gets going in June, as does the skiing in the southern hemisphere. In Australia, Perisher is scheduled to open on June 7, as is Coronet Peak in the Southern Alps of New Zealand.
Oh yes, and in the Rockies…
Winter isn’t over yet in Colorado. Pictured below is high-altitude Arapahoe Basin yesterday afternoon. It’s just extended its season to include a bonus weekend from June 6-8.
|France: There’s been fresh snow this week in the French Alps – but not in the same quantity as Austria and parts of Switzerland. Pity, then, that all the resorts are now shut. However, Tignes, Val d’Isere and Les Deux Alpes will all be opening their glaciers in June for summer skiing.
|Switzerland: parts of the Swiss Alps have seen heavy snow this week – although only a handful of high-altitude lifts are still open. Currently, at Trockener Steg above Zermatt there’s 95cm of snow bedded down at the moment and a handful of pistes to ski. The glacier isn’t currently open. Meanwhile, there’s half a metre of fresh snow at Engelberg. The lifts are closed today because of the weather, but skiing is planned on the glacier until May 25.
|Austria: with Obergurgl now closed, the action has shifted to the glaciers in Austria – and they’re looking forward to a memorable weekend once the skies clear. There’s been heavy snow on all the glaciers, and on the Kitzsteinhorn the cover is now up to three metres deep.
|Italy: with Cervinia now closed, skiing has now retreated to a few glacier lift systems in the high Italian Alps. On the Presena glacier above Passo Tonale, for example, there’s still 400-450cm of settled snow, and two pistes open for skiing.
|Andorra: Andorra’s ski resorts are now closed.
|Western USA: the season is winding down fast in America – despite the snowy start to May in the Rockies. In Arapahoe Basin, Colorado, the cover is currently 201cm deep, mid-mountain, and in Snowbird in Utah, it’s 284cm deep. Other ski areas still open include Timberline Lodge in Oregon and Mammoth in California.
|Western Canada: in Banff National Park Sunshine Village is open until Sunday and has 195cm of settled cover, on piste. Cumulative snowfall so far is 884cm. Meanwhile, west-coast Whistler reports just 6cm of new snow in the last seven days. Its mid-mountain snowpack is currently 152cm deep. They’ll be skiing in the resort until May 26.