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September 2017

Where’s Open For Skiing or Snowboarding in October 2017?

September was a surprisingly snowy month in the Alps and anyone lucky enough to get out on the continent’s glaciers last month are likely to have enjoyed the rare treat of some late summer powder skiing.  There were regular snow showers through last month which transformed conditions after the long hot summer in the southern half of Europe and as a result whilst September began with only a handful of glaciers open, October begins with 15 centres in five countries to choose from.  Hintertux is pictured below. In North America there’s been fresh snow too and a few centres opened temporarily in celebration.  There are no areas open as we start October but several are snowmaking and hope to open

Ski Areas Opening With Last Season’s Snow

The next few weeks will see an interesting approach to the concept of ‘opening early’ used by several ski areas in Scandinavia and the Alps. As the glaciers of Tignes in France along with the Kitzsteinhorn and Dachstein in Austria open on Saturday 30th September, so will  Geilo in Norway (pictured above in September 2016), using snow it has saved and stockpiled from last winter. It’s a trick the resort has pulled off successfully for several years now, spreading the snow out over a kilometre long run just as temperatures are low enough again to stop it thawing too fast and at times allow snowmaking top ups.  There can also be the first natural snow showers of the autumn, it

First Turns in Powder and Park for 2017-18 in the USA

Although no ski areas have officially opened for the 2017-18 ski season yet in North America (well it is still September…), two centres did offer some lift-served skiing at the weekend. Mt Bachelor in Oregon created a small terrain park at its base and opened it top local snowsports enthusiasts on Saturday and Sunday (pictured below).  A spokesperson for the resort said they believed Saturday, 23rd September was their earliest ever opening date. In addition Silverton Mountain in Colorado ran its lifts on Sunday so that some staff could access early snowfall there and some September powder conditions (pictured top). These limited openings followed snowfall across Western North America at the end of last week which led to accumulations of

Last Day of Summer Snowfall for North America

The heavy snow in the Alps this September has been followed in the past few days by some serious snowfalls in Western North America. Snow was first reported on high peaks in Idaho, Montana and some parts of BC north of the border in Canada at the weekend but the past 36 hours have seen much more widespread snowfall. Jackson Hole has already received two snow dumps since Saturday.   Much of the snow fell on the last day of summer – 21st September, according to the astronomical calendar – although in many ski areas it continued snowing through to the first day of autumn, today, too. Few ski areas have been measuring these initially flurries but Marmot Basin

British Consulate and Leading Tour Op Join Forces in Chamonix Glacier Clean Up

It has been snowing a lot on high slopes in the Alps but last Friday was fortunately sunny in France as employees from the British Consulate in Marseille and Crystal Ski Holidays once again joined forces with the town of Chamonix-Mont Blanc, the French Alpine Club, Lafuma, as well as other mountain-based organisations, and a large number of volunteers to collect rubbish unfortunately left behind by some of the more than 500,000 visitors each year to the Mer de Glace glacier at Chamonix in France. This year marks the 10th edition of the Mer de Glace clean-up event in Chamonix which aims to raise awareness of the need to protect the Mer de Glace glacier and our environment as a

Electric Fat Bikes – not just for Christmas

If you’re a happy fair-weather biker, close your ears. Fat biking obliterates all obstacles and all excuses for getting out in the mud, sludge, sand and best of all –  snow! Not just a ploy of the bike industry to sell more bikes, or a fad for old people - the once ridiculed monster trucks of cycling are fast becoming a big fat force to be reckoned with. Now every good bike shop has a fatty in its window, and someone in the shop to extol its virtues. Fun, versatile, all-weather machines to tackle any trail at any time of the year. There are now fatbike-specific festivals, races and an annual World Championships. Even the ski industry has stopped chuckling

First Snows of Autumn in Scotland, Pyrenees, Dolomites and Rockies

Ski areas and high peaks across the northern hemisphere have been reporting their first snowfalls of autumn in the past few days. In fact it can still be considered summer for another week if you follow the astronomical seasons with autumn starting on September 22nd this year after the autumnal equinox.  The meteorological  calendar had autumn begin on September 1st. Yesterday saw excitement in Banff, Canada as the first snow storms were reported falling there (video below) and there’s now a forecast for a major snow storm in Northwestern America with Jackson Hole expecting up to 50cm (20 inches) of pre-season snow this weekend. There was also excitement and some relief in Scotland when 2.5cm (an inch) of snow

La Grave – Saved

The classic French ski resort of La Grave in the Haute Alpes appears to have been saved from the threat of closure. La Grave is centred on a 12th century village which accesses a massive vertical drop accessed by a three stage gondola that was installed in the 1970s. The lifts climb 2100 vertical metres above the village – one of the 10 biggest vertical in the world – and connect the area to the neighbouring  huge Les Deux Alpes ski area, but there are few groomed runs at La Grave. But in recent years the famous off-piste skiing destination had been threatened on two fronts – firstly it’s lift structure is getting old and the lift operating company was

2017-18 Ski Season Starts on Saturday In The Alps (Maybe With Fresh Snow)

When does one ski season end and another one start?  With ski areas like Zermatt and Hintertux open year-round and others opening and closing on dates that are unusual compared to the standard December to April model, it can be hard to tell. But the ski year in the northern hemisphere doers have two big dip months: May, when almost everywhere has closed and the summer glacier ski season hasn’t started and September, when most ski areas that had opened for summer glacier skiing in June or July have closed again for a few months until their winter season. Currently only four areas are open for snow sports in the northern hemisphere – Saas Fee and Zermatt in Switzerland, Hintertux

“Most Snow in 17 Years” in Australia

The latest round of huge snow storms in Australia have left snow conditions, “the best in 17 years” according to Perisher ski resort. The September snow storm currently raging is the third since the start of August and the biggest yet with most of the country’s major resorts posting at least 60cm (2 feet) of snowfall in the past 72 hours and Thredbo a remarkable 1.3m (4.3 feet) in the same period.   Snow depths at leading Australian resorts are now approaching two metres – about as good as it gets here, and nearly all of the ski lifts in the country are operating at capacity – although some have needed digging out - with almost every run open.

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