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Japan Update & Focus on Nozawa, Shiga Kogen and Madarao

At the time of writing, it is early April and it is once again feeling colder and there is actually some fresh snow falling on some higher Japanese mountains. This return-to-winter spell is probably going to end up as no more than a quick ‘last blast’ and just a dusting of snow – or perhaps a little more in places if we are lucky… Even so, any fresh snow is very welcome after the somewhat dry March that we just experienced. After a decent-to-great season in terms of snowfall in many of the mountain regions of Japan, March arrived, and it was almost as if a big switch had been turned to the ‘OFF’ setting all of a sudden. Fresh…

Small Swedish Ski Area to Become International Destination Ski Resort

SkiStar, the corporation which runs half-a-dozen of the leading ski areas in Scandinavia, including the biggest, Sweden’s Åre, and also ventured in to the Alps, buying St Johann in Tirol a few winters ago, has said it plans to make the little known Swedish ski area of ‘Hundfjället’ an international destination ski resort in just over 18 months. They’re starting by investing 10 million Euros this summer in the area, with the majority of the investment going on what the company say will be Scandinavia's most modern chairlift, an 8-seater express lift built by Italian company Leitner and designed by Pininfarina who work on Ferrari car design. Hundfjället will also get new ski runs, expanded snow-making facilities and an overhaul…

‘Snow Play’ at New Zealand Ski Area 10 Weeks Before Season Starts

Ski areas in New Zealand have reported heavy snowfalls this past week with up to 50cm of fresh snowfall in total. The ski season in New Zealand and much of the southern hemisphere does not normally start until June and whilst no ski area is officially opening yet, several have seen people hiking up to ski the fresh snow. Mt Ruapehu (pictured top) reported up to 20cm of fresh snow and drifts of up to a metre. https://www.facebook.com/mthutt/videos/10156241361114500/   The early snow was reported to be due to an Autumnal southerly blast of cold air from Antarctica. Mt Hutt, which is due to open for its 2018 ski season on June 8th, was one of the resorts to report 50cm…

Exceptional Snow Depths on Alpine Glaciers

Snow depths in the Alps are at historic highs after more heavy snowfall over the past 10 days on top of already deep accumulations built up through one of the snowiest winters this century.  Probably THE snowiest this century in many areas. Engelberg (below) in Switzerland’s Titlis glacier is reporting a 7.4m (nearly 25 feet) base after almost 1.5m (five feet) of snowfall there in the last week of March.  It’s the deepest base in the world at present and believed to be the first time  ski area in the Alps has posted a 7m+ snow depth for many years.  It’s open for snowsports until mid-May. In Austria the Dachstein Glacier (below) has gone past the 6m (20 feet) base…

Under the Radar in La Plagne’s Backcountry

Ski journalist and photographer Alf Alderson gets more than he bargained for – in every sense of the word – in La Plagne’s backcountry. La Plagne – most ski guides describe it as ‘perfect for intermediates’, ‘great cruiser runs’, ‘popular with families’ – that kind of thing. So, it’s not a ski resort where you’d expect to find world-class off-piste and backcountry; but you’d be wrong in your expectations. In fact, from where I’m standing now, on the east shoulder of 3417m (11,200ft)  Bellecôte, I’m enjoying views to match any in the Alps as line after line of snow-shrouded mountains extends to the horizon like the lines of a monstrous ocean swell. Amongst the peaks in view are some of…

Kicking Horse: Dave Treadway’s 5 top tips

Dave Treadway is a professional freeride skier and Peak Performance ambassador. He’s hosting a trip this winter with UK tour operator, Kicking Horse Powder Tours, in his home resort of Kicking Horse, British Columbia. We caught up with him to ask for his top tips in this legendary Canadian resort. What’s your favourite place for some great powder skiing in KH Dave? Super Bowl - a short hike to fun, long run with good snow and easy cliffs! Kicking Horse is well-known for its lift accessed, super steep chutes that are too numerous to mention, what’s your favourite? CPR Ridge - so many steep run options! After all that adrenaline, where’s your favourite spot for a nice lunch? Eagles Eye…

World’s Most Advanced Chairlift Yet Coming to Montana

What is believed to be the most advanced chairlift yet built will be installed at the Montana ski resort of Big Sky this summer and be operational for winter 2018-19. The new lift, which will also be the first eight-seater chairlift to be installed in North America will feature a host of hi-tec functions, some of them visible to users, others to the lift’s operators. The next generation Doppelmayr D-Line chairlift will provide feature the signature Big Sky blue bubble covers for added warmth and seats that are heated, form-fitting and wider than any ever made, providing what Doppelmayr say will be the most comfortable chairlift ride yet conceived. Other features include an integrated 30’ x 10’ high resolution LED…

Biggest Snowfalls This Century in Western Spain

There have been some huge snowfalls in Spain this week and unusually it is not the mountain range where the country’s biggest ski areas are that have been really dumped on. Spain has more than 30 ski areas with about half of them, including most of the larger centres, in the Pyrenees along the country’s northeastern border. But the others are located all over the country in other mountain ranges including the Sistema Central and the Cantabrian Mountains or Cantabrian Range that stretch for over 300 km across northern Spain, from the western limit of the Pyrenees to the Galician Massif in Galicia, along the coast of the Cantabrian Sea. It’s small ski areas in these mountains that are reporting…

Japan update and focus on Nagano (Hakuba)

Here we are in March. And for most of Japan, nature seems to have taken that as a clear sign to quickly switch to spring mode. It has been a generally mild and spring-like start to the month along with some nasty rain in lots of places. It might not feel like it right now, but historically March has a habit of delivering some good surprises and can offer some really feel-good conditions on the slopes. At the time of writing its early days yet, so hopefully, we might get some of that this season. Come the end of March and early April, lots of ski hills in Japan will be closing for the season, but a fair number of…

North American Ski Resorts In Huge 18-19 Lift Pass Sales Battle

Ski resorts across North America are dividing up in to groups participating in one or another different giant lift pass offers for the 2018-19 ski season. The multi-resort passes have gone on sale in the past few weeks for next winter and several groups are battling to persuade skiers and boarders that theirs’ is the pass to buy. Each of the passes covers at least a dozen ski areas and most many more.  Some have usage restrictions, others offer unlimited access all season to all areas. This annual sales battle I not new, Vail Resorts Epic Pass was conceived almost a decade ago now, but its success – with the company now selling more than 750,000 Epic passes  annually in…