There’s increasing concern that any ski area will be able to open in the Andes for winter 2020. It’s not looking good in South Africa either, although one ski area in Africa, Afriski in Lesoho, was the first in the southern hemisphere to open in early June.
The Andes have seen big June snowfalls with several areas reporting more than a metre (40 inches) of snowfall in the past week, however Chile has recently extended its state-of-emergency by three more months to mid-September. This is close to the end of the country’s normal ski season.
Chile has been one of the countries hardest hit by the virus in South America and is one of the seven worst hit worldwide at present in terms of the reported number of infections.
Portillo has announced it has suspended its planned 2020 season start date indefinitely having initially delayed it to mid-July.
Argentina has less than a quarter of the reported cases in Chile but also has a strict lockdown at present, recently extended to mid-July. It had announced early on in the pandemic that flights were unlikely to resume before September and one of the country’s leading areas, Las Lenas, had announced it would not attempt to open this winter.
Ski areas across the Andes have been stressing their slopes are closed to back country skiers, with a very high avalanche danger at present but no piste maintenance on rescue teams in place. Some videos of backcountry skiers enjoying the conditions have appeared online in recent days however.
In South Africa it’s also not looking promising there’ll be a 2020 ski season. The country has announced tourism businesses will be able to re-open in September but that’s probably too late for the only ski area there, Tiffindell (above in early June), which normally ends its season at the end of August. It has reported the coldest winter start for seven years.
Lesotho, a land-locked country surrounded by South Africa, has opened its one ski area, Afriski, but is missing skiers arriving from its larger neighbour due to the closed border. Ski areas have also now opened in the other two southern hemisphere ski nations, Australia and New Zealand.