The number of ski areas open on earth may be five or less for a few days next week – probably the lowest number since the rapid growth in ski area openings in the 1960s and the first summer ski areas opening.
Although the pandemic closed most resorts for much of the past 10 weeks or so, ski areas kept operating in some countries like Japan until mid-May, and that overlapped with ski areas that had been closed starting to re-open in countries like Norway, meaning the world total open didn’t drop in to single figures.
Late May is traditionally the quietest month of the year though as most northern hemisphere ski areas have closed and most southern hemisphere centres haven’t opened. Most of the dwindling number of summer ski destinations in the Alps also take a break before re-opening in June or July.
This year however there is also the virus so glacier areas like Hintertux and Zermatt that would normally be open currently aren’t. Most of the ski areas in Norway that have re-opened over the past month are also ending their season (again) this weekend, as is the Swedish ski area of Riksgransen, the only centre to have kept operating through the pandemic. It has confirmed it will re-open for is traditional midsummer skiing weekend in a month’s time however.
So the only areas currently known to be open from Monday (25th May) next week are Norway’s Galdhopiggen and Fonna glaciers; and recently re-opened Kanin in Slovenia and Timberline in Oregon (Pictured top with socially distanced queuing).
There is a chance however that more centres will re-open at very short notice and some non-glacier areas in Norway may continue to operate.
Although most remain closed, some of the world’s 100+ indoor snow centres have re-opened too, including some centres in China and SnowPlanet in New Zealand, along with several dry slopes.
This week could be seen as a turning point in the impact of the pandemic however, hopefully, as The numbers will start to grow from this Friday 29th May glacier areas in the Austrian Alps are due to re-open (Kaunertal, one of them, is pictured above), followed by the Gassan summerski area in Japan, Stryn in Norway and Beartooth Basin summer ski area in the US, then the first southern hemisphere centres and more Alpine glaciers over the next few weeks.