Two of Norway’s three summer ski areas have closed early for the season, with the third about to do the same, as the country’s glaciers are hit by prolonged warm weather, melting the snow cover fast to expose the ice below.

One centre reported their snow cover had gone, “…at record speed”, another that the snow had gone, “…much faster than we thought possible.”

Ice exposed on the ski run at Galdhøpiggen Sommerskisenter

The three centres usually open in May as the rest of Scandinavia’s ski areas close and aim to stay open to late summer or autumn in a good year.  Last year one of the centres reported snow lying over 15 metres (50 feet) deep and took a month to dig the access road through to the lift, this year the deepest snow was around 6 metres (20 feet) at opening, but that appears to have largely gone in two months.

Stryn (pictured top) was the first to close, last month, after less than a month open, issuing this statement,

“After much wind and rainfall, the snow disappears at record speed. Unfortunately, we see the need to close much earlier than planned.”

The Galdhøpiggen Sommerskisenter has Scandinavia’s highest base and aims to stay open through the summer to the autumn but reports that high temperatures and strong winds on the glacier have exposed a lot of the ice.

“The plan was to run the whole season but it’s no longer possible and we are closing for the summer for safety reasons,” a centre spokesperson explained, adding, “Sorry for the late warning but it’s been much faster than we thought possible.”

The centre says they’re aiming to open again on September 18, maybe a week early if the weather is good, and warned hikers not to go on the glacier now without rope as glacial crevasses are not monitored and marked when the centre is closed.

Fonna earlier in July

Another glacier area, Fonna, had hoped to stay open to the end of August but announced last week that warm temperatures and strong winds had removed a lot of the snow cover on its glacier too, revealing blue ice. It said beginners should no longer visit and it expected to close to recreational skiers and boarders after this weekend, with just race teams allowed to train on the remaining snow. However it has now said it hopes to keep going for recreational skiers, other than beginners, for one more week after conditions improved.