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23 Jun - Heavy snow for Europe's glaciers plus more Southern Hemisphere resorts open

23/06/2010 09:31:45

  • Up to 30cm (a foot) of new snow so far today around Queenstown's ski areas.
  • Up to 50cm (20 inches) of fresh snow in the Alps.
  • Second Californian ski area to open in July.
  • Cairngorm in Scotland wraps up seven month season.
  • Argentina's resort start to open and more snow in Chile and South Africa. reports that more of Europe's glacier ski areas are opening and that they, along with the centres already open, are benefitting from heavy snowfalls in recent days.

    More ski areas have also been opening in the southern hemisphere, where resorts in New Zealand are reporting up to 25cm of new snow so far today. In addition a third US area has announced plans to open its slopes in July.

    There have been low temperatures and heavy snow on glaciers in the Alps in the past few days. With all three summer ski areas now open in France, this means 10 areas are offering powder snow conditions on their slopes at the moment!

    In Austria the Hintertux glacier has reported 45cm (18 inches) of new snow it has a 590m vertical with 20km of pistes open, and a (6.5 foot) base. The Dachstein glacier has a210cm (7 foot) base and is reporting powder conditions. It's beginner park and super park are both open.

    The Kitzsteinhorn glacier above Kaprun has also reopened, reporting another 5cm (two inches) of fresh snow on Tuesday, on top of weekend falls and a full 750 metres of skiable vertical.

    The Mölltal glacier will re-open this Sunday, 27 June at 8am with about 9 km of groomed slopes open daily to 4pm through to the end of August. The centre currently reports up to 3.6m (12 foot) snow depths on the glacier.

    Italy will also be up to four summer ski areas open by the weekend when Cervinia re-opens with fresh snow. It will join the still-open Presena glacier above Passo Tonale where just two advanced to expert runs are open, as well as Passo Stelvio and Val Senales, which has reported 20cm of new snow in two falls over the past few days.

    In Switzerland it's still only Zermatt, Europe's highest ski area, which has 8km of runs open.

    In France the ski lifts began running again at the weekend at Tignes on the Grande Motte glacier and in neighbouring Val d'Isere which joined Les 2 Alpes which re-opened a week ago.

    In Tignes there's 20km of piste and a giant terrain park open, the snow base is 120cm (four feet) and there's been another 5cm of fresh snow. The slopes are open from 7:15am to 1pm, and located at an altitude ranging from 3,000 to 3,456 metres. The glacier features 12 ski lifts and can be accessed in seven minutes by the underground funicular.

    Les 2 Alpes has 80cm (2.6 feet) of snow at 2600m and 2.8m (over 9 feet) up at 3200m with 12 slopes and the terrain park open at one of Europe's largest summer ski areas.

    The only other places to ski in Europe are in Norway, where three glacier ski areas are open at Folgefonn with up to four metres of snow lying, Galdhoppigen with up to five metres of snow lying and Stryn with up to 4.5 metres of snow lying.

    In Scotland more than 60 skiers took to the slopes at CairnGorm Mountain on the summer solstice on Monday 21st June 2010 to enjoy some midsummer skiing on the snow still lying there in the Ptarmigan bowl.

    They were able to take advantage of the two rope tows which had been set up there by the resort's operators CairnGorm Mountain Ltd. Skiers had travelled from as far away as the Isle of Mull in order to be able to say that they had skied at midsummer at CairnGorm.

    The 21st was the 147th day of skiing at CairnGorm since the season started on 28 November 2009 and brings to 145,007 the total number of skier days at the resort in what by any account has been an extraordinary season. There were 23 days when skiing was not possible due to high winds or access blocked by snow.

    Last year 65,000 skiers visited the resort and only three years ago they had their worst season ever with only 38,000 skiers.

    In North America the ski season ended a weekend later than expected in Utah when Snowbird decided to open last weekend after all, extending their 2009/10 season to 189 total days.

    Customers were limited to one ride up the Aerial Tram per day, allowing access to Little Cloud lift and skiing on Regulator Johnson. All additional terrain was closed and classified as "backcountry terrain."

    However Timberline on Mt Hood in Oregon and Mammoth Mountain in California are still operating their ski lifts and snow slopes.

    Mammoth, which currently has 2-6 feet (60-180cm) of snow has previously said they'll stay open for two more weekends to July 4. However another California resort, Boreal, has now said they'll open for one weekend only, on the 10th/11th July.

    Lifts will be open from 10am - 2pm, to enjoy the abundance of snow left from the snowy spring. A full terrain park will be built, accessed via the Castle Peak Quad and lift tickets will cost 20 dollars.

    North of the border Whistler's summer skiing and boarding area on the Blackcomb glacier is now open and the resort is also offering summer snowshoeing and tubing. In South America Las Lenas is the first resort to open in Argentina has opened with a metre of snow on upper slopes, but the country's other leading resort, Catedral, says it needs more snow before opening, there's currently about a foot (30cm) on upper slopes.

    Conditions at most ski areas in Chile are looking good after the centres there reported receiving up to two feet (60cm) of snow in the past week, most of it just before the weekend. Chapa Verde has a 60cm (two foot) base and Chapelco 50cm (20 inches).

    However Valle Nevado and the South American ' three Valleys' that surround it have some of the best conditions on the continent with more than 1.6m (over five feet) of accumulated snowfall to date. Portillo, which delayed its opening by a week, is now on schedule to open this weekend.

    In southern Africa there's snow sports as well as World Cup football. Africa's Tiffindell is open for skiing and Afriski in Lesotho has had more new snow taking its base depth to 65cm (2.2 feet) with a 400m long slope open.

    In Australia there's been no new natural snowfall for over a week now but temperatures are continuing to stay quite low so most resorts with snowmaking are making more, and resorts like Falls Creek, Mt Hotham and Perisher have 40 or 50cm (16-20 inches) of snow on snowmaking areas, Thredbo has a little less.

    More ski areas have been opening in New Zealand. Treble Cone, which has received excellent pre-season snow, will open tomorrow (Thursday 24 June) with the first lift running at 8.30am. There'll be Amisfield bubbles for the first 150 skiers on the lifts. Whakapapa is scheduled to open on Saturday 26th June.

    Treble Cone

    Of the already-open areas, Turoa has 80cm (nearly three feet) of snow on upper slopes. The Remarkables has 85cm (nearly three feet) and has reported 10cm (four inches) of new snow earlier today. Coronet Peak has the same amount lying and 15cm (six inches) of new snow so far today. But Mt Hutt has trumped both with 25cm (10 inches) of new snow today and a metre (3.3 foot) base.

    After getting their first turns of the season on Treble Cone's feeride terrain, skiers and snowboarders can spend the afternoon testing their aerial skills on The AirBag. The AirBag is a supersized, air-filled stunt cushion that provides a soft landing for skiers and snowboarders. The first time it has been seen in on-snow in New Zealand, The Airbag is used throughout Europe to develop the training techniques of Olympic and national aerial teams.

    The giant 10mx15m cushion will be in full view of the Treble Cone deck and high-speed six seater chairlift for onlookers to check out all the aerial action as some of the region's top pro freeskiers and snowboarders put it through its paces.
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