The summer ski season on high altitude glaciers in the Alps and Canada as well as on high altitude snowfields in the USA and northerly latitude glaciers in Norway is underway.
With some glacier ski areas staying open year round (Hintertux and Zermatt) there is no precise ‘start’ to the glacier season, but this week has seen glaciers open for summer skiing and snowboarding at Val d’Isere in France (where no ski areas had been open since early May), Whistler Blackcomb in Canada and the Molltal Glacier in Austria (pictured top).
In Norway the Stryn (below) and Galdhoppigen summer ski centres have also opened in the past few weeks joining Folgefonn (Fonna) which opened earlier this spring.
More glaciers will open over the next few weeks including Val d’Isere and Tignes in France and Cervinia in Italy (providing cross-border summer—skiing to Zermatt until September). Saas Fee will open in July, then stay open until spring 2018.
In the USA The Beartooth Basin summer ski camp has opened in Montana (for the first time in three years) and a summer snowsports camp season is also underway at Copper Mountain in Colorado. Timberline on Mt Hood remains open through to summer and this year Mammoth and Squaw Valley are staying open until at least August due to all the winter snow they’ve had there (topped up by fresh snow at the start of this week).
At the same time that June sees the start of the glacier skiing season, some of the longest surviving ski area from last winter including Arapahoe Basin in Colorado (pictured below on Sunday) have called it a day on the 16-17 season. Riksgransen in Sweden’s four month long season that started in late February and runs until midsummer with 24 hour daylight in the Swedish Arctic circle will end shortly too.
However the number of ski areas that still offer summer skiing is declining. In 2000 there were about 40 summer ski areas open but this year the maximum number open is about half that.
Most of the glaciers are melting away fast due to climate change and one long running summer camp, The Camp of Champions, at Whistler Blackcomb decided this season to call it a day on operations after nearly three decasdes blaming climate change for conditions not being adequate for their needs to build a world class terrain park, a spokesman for the Camp said.
The length of the summer ski season varies tremendously too. Resorts like Les 2 Alpes and Cervinia have 8-12 week season but for Val d’Isere, Stryn, Whistler and Beartooth Basin it may be just 5-6 weeks.