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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. https://www.facebook.com/SunshineVillageResort/videos/1555756571142376/ 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. https://www.facebook.com/PerisherResort/videos/10154675271295653/   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.

September Snow For The Alps

Heavy snowfall has been reported in the Alps for the start of September. The snow, expected to continue falling until Sunday or Monday, was widely welcomed after one of the hottest summers on record thawed much of the snow cover from glacier slopes, leaving several summer ski areas forced to close temporarily. The heaviest snowfall is expected to accumulate today, Friday September 1st, and tomorrow, Saturday 2nd with up to 60cm of fresh snow possible. The fresh snowfall was particularly welcomed at the Pitztal glacier (below), one to Austria’s highest ski slopes and one of half a dozen due to open for the 2017-18 ski season in just a few weeks’ time. The resort had only yesterday removed protective covers

Where’s Open For Skiing in September 2017 and What’s the Snow Like?

September is traditionally one of the two quietest months in the world skiing calendar (along with May) The summer ski season in the Alps is over, the southern hemisphere’s season is winding down and the first areas to open for the coming northern hemisphere’s season are just starting to open, it’s a period of lull, or the calm before the storm if you’d prefer. This year is a little different.  The summer ski season is indeed over and the southern hemisphere’s 2017 season is winding down after a mostly snowy August – indeed the two ski centres in Southern Africa, Afriski (Pictured below on 18th August) and Tiffindell, have already called it a day on their winters, but the question

Hot Weather In The Alps Melts Snow Cover on Glaciers

This summer’s high temperatures in Europe has led to most of the year round snow cover on Alpine glaciers melting away completely in many places, leaving the glacial ice exposed directly to the sunlight. Currently seven glaciers are supposed to be open for snowsports but two have had to close this month because the snow has melted away.  The remainder report very thin cover and ‘tough’ (Les 2 Alpes - pictured below) skiing conditions. The Stelvio glacier in Italy closed at the start of the month for the first time in its operational history, but it has been able to re-open some terrain following fresh snow.  Latest to close is Austria’s Molltal glacier, which has closed indefinitely until adequate fresh

Indoor Snow Centre Installing 1000 Solar Panels To Go Fully Green Energy Powered on Sunny Days

How will the skiing world look 100 years in the future if climate change continues at even the best rate forecast? Maybe we will all be skiing on Mars? One possible option though is that skiing will be more and more indoors. This year the new largest indoor snow centre on the planet opened in China and the first indoor snow centre in Africa opened in Cairo. There are now indoor snow centres on every continent except Antarctica – more than 100 have been built over the past 30 years and around 70 are currently operational in 30 countries worldwide. On the whole environmental groups are not happy about these ‘giant fridges’ and the energy their refrigeration systems need, although

It’s Snowing on Mars this Summer (Probably)

A new scientific study has determined that it is snowing on northern Mars every night. New atmospheric simulations indicate that occasional observations over the past decade from orbiting reconnaissance spacecraft and landers that appeared to show snow or frost on Mars, and potentially snow-bearing clouds in the atmosphere, are correct. Details of the new study have been published in the journal Nature Geoscience. Scientists found that flakes of water ice fall from clouds high in the planet’s atmosphere, sometimes failing to reach the ground, but sometimes leaving a frosty covering. (A frost avalanche seen by the HiRISE camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2015) The simulations appear to confirm earlier physical observations. Early in 2000 space scientists reported  on the