It’s the height of summer in the northern hemisphere but 10 centres are open through August in Europe and north America. There’s even been some fresh snow on glacier slopes in the Alps.
South of the equator it’s mid-winter and there’s been some heavy snowfalls in South America (Valle Nevado is pictured top in July 2017) and New Zealand in July, plus fresh snow for Australian and African resorts too.
The highest slopes in the Alps had some fresh snow in the last week of July – just a few centimetres but enough ‘snow in summer’ to get excited about.
Since Saas Fee opened for its summer skiing season (in fact it stays open for snowsports now right through to next spring) last month, and Val d’Isere ended its short summer glacier opening, there are two areas in each of the big four Alpine nations open as we enter August.
Hintertux and the Molltal glaciers in Austria, Cervinia and Passo Stelvio in Italy, Les 2 Alpes and Tignes in France and the afore-mentioned Saas Fee plus Zermatt in Switzerland.
Base depths vary from just 30cm to 2.8m on the glacial ice and terrain open from 3 to 20km but all offer a fairly similar experience of summer skiing with daily opening around 7am, the best snow conditions normally mid-morning and the ski day over by lunchtime.
Tignes (pictured above a few days ago) will close its summer skiing operation earlier than usual this year, on August 6th, but the other centres will be open through August.
A ninth European option is in Norway where one ski area is open on the Galdhoppigen glacier – reporting the only 3m base in the world at present on its one run.
Squaw Valley decided to close in July after warm weather in Western North America thwarted its plans to stay open indefinitely. Mammoth is still open in to August for only the second time in its history, and has 90cm of its winter nine metre base left, but it too has announced plans to close, on August 6th, after a 270 day season. This will leave only the summer snowfield at timberline at Mt Hood in Oregon open in North America through August.
Things were looking a little patchy in places earlier on in July in the Andes but big snowfalls in the middle of the month, and other significant snowfalls since has transformed conditions and almost all of the continent’s ski areas in Argentina and Chile are operating at or near capacity with bases passing the 2m mark at several centres. It’s now looking good for the second half of the season here. El Colorado in Chile is pictured above in July.
After an unfortunately dry and warm June when ski centres struggled to open much terrain, Australia’s ski areas received regular snowfalls through July and are now in good shape for the rest of winter with most slopes open and bases building towards the metre mark – a healthy stat on Aussie slopes in any season. Falls Creek is pictured above.
New Zealand’s snow depths now include the deepest yet in the southern hemisphere with 2.7m lying at Mt Hutt as we enter August following some huge snowfalls there in the final days of last month, adding up to around a metre of snowfall. New Zealand has in fact had a very snowy July after a rather warm June caused problems for ski area operations, particularly on the North Island where several centres had to delay opening. That’s all changed now though with at least a metre lying at most centres and more than two metres at several. Cardrona is pictured above.
Both Tiffindell in South Africa and Afriski in Lesotho have reported fresh natural snowfall in July, but both are currently back to relying on snowmaking to keep the slopes open. That’s working well though with both centres looking good for the rest of their 2017 seasons through to the end of August. Snow art from Afriski is pictured above.