As hot weather continues to impact the Alps and many other mountainous areas around the world, it looks like only one ski area will be open for the final 10 days of August and into September in the northern hemisphere.
The number of centres currently open is already at a historic low, with just two areas left open to the skiing public in Europe and one in North America. Two of these have announced they plan to end their seasons on August 21st.
This will leave, all being well, Hintertux in the Austrian Tirol (pictured top today) the only ski area still operating. It’s one of two ski centres that usually aim to keep their glacier slopes open 365 days a year. The other, Zermatt, with Europe’s highest slopes, has suspended operations due to unprecedented high—altitude heat over the past five months melting much of the snow cover from its glacier, in common with glaciers across Europe.
Hintertux though is itself battling the same issue and currently reports a thin layer of snow scraped on to a few kilometres of slopes with most of its glacial ice exposed.
The two areas currently open that are closing on the 21st are Timberline in Oregon (pictured above), the last area open in North America for the 21-22 season and the Fonna glacier in Norway, the last open to the public in Scandinavia.
Fonna, which is closing weeks early, said its decision was for “safety reasons” and that it would not reopen for snow sports until next year.
Two centres, Saas Fee in Switzerland and Galdhopiggen in Norway, have limited terrain available to professional race teams who can book slots in advance, but they don’t accept private individuals on their slopes at present.
Usually September and early October sees up to a dozen ski areas open for autumn skiing in the Alps. With autumn fast approaching they’ll be hoping for an end to the current hot weather and a rapid return to cooler weather and hopefully high-altitude snowfalls.
That might allow ski areas like Italy’s Passo Stelvio as well as Galdhopiggen, Saas Fee and Zermatt to re-open slopes to the public as well, all are among those areas which would normally be open in August and say their current closure is temporary until that happens.
The new current all-time-low for the number of ski areas open in the northern hemisphere is a big change from even the 1990s when up to 40 ski areas opened for summer skiing.
“Of course, the impact is immeasurably greater than the loss of snowsports in summer, with water for agriculture and hydropower impacted and previously frozen year-round ground becoming unstable as mother nature makes the impact of the climate emergency all the more obvious for those prepared to listen,” a spokesperson for SaveOurSnow.com which reports on the snow community’s battle with climate change worldwide, commented.