Here’s the effect…
The picture above was taken on the Hintertux glacier on Friday. The Hintertux sits at the far end of the Zillertal, near Innsbruck, and the lifts there run all year, so the snow is very welcome. They need to get as much of it as possible packed down on the pistes before summer settles over the region.
However, the shapers at the Betterpark on the glacier were less amused. Some of their freestyle features were completely buried by the snow.
Eventually the skies cleared, and on Sunday the sun shone. The conditions up there must have been amazing…
Today, the weather is changing again, and a warm southerly airstream is sweeping across the region. The freezing point will jump – up to 3500m in France and 3900m in Austria by the middle of the week – and the snowline will retreat back uphill again. In fact, the sudden, sharp thaw will affect the glaciers too, so the wintry snow of the last few days will soon be a fading memory. Conditions will become much more spring-like, with hard, refrozen snow first thing in the morning, softening towards slush as the day progresses.
See below for a quick survey of the day’s webcams. Of course, this being May, there’s not much lift-serviced skiing available in the Alps at the moment. All but a handful of ski areas are now closed. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still have a blast – as anyone who was out yesterday on an Austrian glacier will surely testify.
Pictured below is the Stubai Glacier, south of Innsbruck, in the Tirol – where it’s cloudy, obviously. The snow here is up to 360cm deep, and the pistes will stay open until July 4.
Pictured below is Engelberg, in Switzerland, where skiing continues until May 25 (next Sunday).
Finally, pictured below is the Matterhorn, above Zermatt – looking magnificent, as usual. The glacier is now open for skiing, as well as some of the lower pistes, down to Trockener Steg at 2900m. The snow at 2900m is 95cm deep. On the glacier, it’s three metres deep.
They’re still skiing in North America, too
Today sees the end of the season at Sunshine Village in Banff National Park. Here’s how they celebrated the final weekend of the season…
Skiing continues at Whistler, further west, until May 26. The Horstman glacier reopens for summer skiing from June 21 to July 27.
Meanwhile, south of the border, Arapahoe Basin in Colorado won’t be closing until June 8 – thanks to a super-snowy spring, which brought another 12cm of the white stuff to the resort overnight on May 16.
Snow expected Down Under this week
In the southern hemisphere, the ski season is fast approaching, and all three of the main ski areas – the Southern Alps in New Zealand, the Snowy Mountains of Australia, and the Andes – have seen snowfall recently (although it didn’t stick around for long once the skies cleared). This week, the white stuff is set to return to the South Island of New Zealand and the Andes near Santiago .
|France: It’s going to be a warm and potentially stormy week in the French Alps. All resorts are now closed: 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 saw heavy snow last 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 is now open for skiing, too. Skiing is also possible at Engelberg until May 25. Temperatures have risen sharply today and spring conditions have returned.
|Austria: with Obergurgl now closed, the action has shifted to the glaciers in Austria – where conditions are superb in the wake of last week’s snow. On the Kitzsteinhorn the cover is now over three metres deep. However, temperatures have jumped today and spring conditions have returned to the region.
|Italy: on the Presena glacier above Passo Tonale, there’s still 400-450cm of settled snow, and two pistes are 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 203cm deep, mid-mountain, and in Snowbird in Utah, it’s 251cm deep. Other ski areas still open include Timberline Lodge in Oregon and Mammoth in California.
|Western Canada: with Sunshine Village closing today, Whistler will be the last ski resort open in western Canada. It has one more week to run, before it closes on May 26, for a short break. Then, on June 21 its glacier skiing season gets underway.