This Week’s Headlines:
- More than 1.5m (five feet) of snow in the last six days at Squaw Valley, California (pictured).
- Back to spring conditions with almost no fresh snow in the Alps.
- Fernie in Canada first North American ski area to build a 4m base in ‘13-‘14 after another 70cm of snow in the last seven days.
J2Ski report that after a return to fairly dry, spring like weather in much of Europe, there have been huge snowfalls again in Western North America – slightly ironically as many of the continent’s areas close this weekend or next. There’s been snow on the east coast too so both Sugarloaf in Maine and squaw Valley in California are predicting this coming weekend could be their best of 13-14, even if it is the first in April.
Over the coming week some modest falls (typically 5-15cm) are expected in the run up to Easter in the Alps, there’ll be bigger falls (30cm+) in Western America and in Japan where Niseko will be open until May.
The last week of March was similar to the first fortnight of the month in Austria – spring like conditions and almost no snow. Lower elevations began closing last weekend for the season and more will follow this Sunday. Along with some of Europe’s lowest major ski areas however, Austria has more glacier skiing than any other country and at certain times of the year – September for example – half of the dozen or so areas open in the northern hemisphere are all in Austria. The good news is that Austria’s glaciers, and indeed the higher slopes at its non glacier resorts, look good. Hintertux, which tops the Austrian snowfall table with a 4m base on its glacier is (along with Zermatt) one of two resorts in the world open 365 days a year.
It’s blue skies and beautiful days in the French Alps too where most resorts are open for at least another fortnight and a sizable proportion to the end of April and even in to May. There’s been almost no fresh snow reported, just a couple of inches nearly a week ago at Isola 2000 in the southern Alps. But bases remain very good at the vast majority of areas, two thirds have at least 2m on upper slopes and almost all at least a metre – some, including Chamonix, Flaine and Avoriaz nearly 3m still. A few resorts including le Grand Bornand and La Plagne are saying snow cover has thinned to 10-20cm down at the base of their slopes.
Western Italian ski areas caught the last of the big snowfalls in the alps just a week ago so are still posting figures of 20-40cm of snow for the week, though in reality that all feel last Wednesday/Thursday are resorts including Cervinia and Sestriere. Passo Tonale continues to report the world’s deepest snow base at 6m/20 feet and should stay open into June as usual as a result. Almost all resorts throughout the rest of the country have healthy bases thanks to the great season Italy’s had – typically in the 1.3-3m bracket although Macugnaga has 3.8m, Madesimo 4.5m. Even at resort level most areas have at least two feet of snow lying, Cortina has about the least reported with 30cm by the village although it’s still 1.5m deep on the tops says J2ski.com .
It has been a dry week on Swiss slopes too with no fresh snow recorded in the past week. Andermatt is still reporting a 4m base as it has for several months now. Snow levels have fluctuated rather more at resorts with a little less snow lying including Engelberg and Saas Fee, both around 3.5m and both open in to late April or May. Saas Fee closes first but then re-opens in July for its nine month season right through to the end of April 2015. Most Swiss resorts have plenty of snow to see them through the remainder of the season but several are honestly reporting that they have no snow left to resort level, including Adelboden, Crans Montana, Leysin, Gstaad and Wengen. It’s 5cm deep in the village at Laax.
After the heavy snow last week in the Pyrenees things have slowed down a good deal with 5 – 15cm reported by resorts in the last week, the most recent falls of around 5cm on Sunday. Bases remain excellent for the time of year with 2 – 3m lying on the slopes in Andorra.
The snow has finally stopped falling in Scandinavia although snow levels means resorts should be good to stay open to early May – as many do – and possibly to June in the case of Finland’s northerly Ruka, which likes to claim the longest season in the world for a ski resort without a glacier. Snow depths in Norway are the best in the area, with Hemsedal, one of those with four weeks of the season still to run, has a 1.6 – 1,.8m base. Over the border in Sweden Are, the region’s biggest resort, reported 3cm of snow on Monday, it has a 70cm base.
Eastern Europe is in thaw mode with just a few centimetres of snow left in Romania and challenging conditions in Romania, with little snow cover on lower runs, and what there is left very soft. Kranjska Gora in Slovenia has called it a day on 13-14 and closed for the season.
Scottish skiing continues to be in good shape with another more settled week than through much of the winter. Temperatures are warmer, snow is softer, there’s a gradual but as yet not catastrophic normal spring thaw, and generally things are looking jolly good for April and the coming Easter fortnight. Continues remain at their best in the West where Glencoe still has one of the world’s deepest snow bases at nearly 4m and is fully open. Nevis Range claims just a few feet less and is virtually fully open. At Cairngorm is 25cm on lower slopes, 2m on upper runs and mostly open, Glenshee in the east has the greatest challenge maintaining runs and The Lecht is no longer operating this season unless there’s a sudden major return to winter.
Another snowy week in Western Canada, nearly all resorts have benefitted but among those shouting loudest are Red Mountain in BC who report, “It’s that time again when March storms come rolling on through bringing us great snow. We’ve had 38cm in the last week, and our base is at the highest it’s been all season – and it’s here for the taking!” Over the provincial border in Alberta Banff Lake Louise are happy too, “March has been as phenomenal as expected, with 33cm overnight last night topping up our current snowfall 719cm/23.5ft so far this season. Oh and we’re open for skiing until May 19.” They scored the second biggest seven day accumulation in the country too with 62cm,m but Fernie was top once again with over 70cm and now has a 4m base, the deepest in North America.
The US has seen some of the biggest snowfalls in the past week, although most of the ski areas there close this week or next. That’s not the case at Mammoth mountain however which has received a metre of snow in the past week and is open at least until the end of May. Other ski areas in California, with the winter drought now a distant memory, scored big snowfall boosts too, with Squaw’s 1.5m (five feet) one of the biggest snowfalls anywhere in the world this year. The snow has been moving east in the past few days with Park City Mountain Resort one of several Utah centres reporting a foot of fresh snow yesterday. In Wyoming Jackson Hole, which has led the snow depth table in the country all season, got yet another 75cm of snow this week and still has the deepest base of a major US resort, at 3.6m (12 feet) but will be one of the first to close for the season in the next few days. Over on the east coast conditions remain fairly good with 30 – 120cm the typical bottom-to-top snow depth at most New England ski areas.