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WORLD SNOW ROUNDUP #118

Issued: 18 December 2019 By Patrick "Snowhunter" Thorne INTRODUCTION EUROPE It has been a snowy week again in the Alps as the main season gets started with some resorts receiving more than a metre of snowfall in total between Monday and Sunday. This was mostly from two big snowstorms at the start and end of that period; however, it wasn't entirely good news with some of the precipitation falling as rain at times and in places up to about 1600 metres altitude. There were also gale force winds bringing blizzard conditions. The experts at Henry's Avalanche Talks have warned that the off-piste avalanche danger has climbed to 4 out of 5 on the danger scale. The rain froze after hitting…

New CHF47m Rail – Gondola Hub Provides Seamless Access To Swiss Slopes

A new CHF47m combined rail, bus and gondola station has opened at the Swiss ski area of Fiesch, which sits below Europe’s largest glacier, Aletsch. The new three-level facility sees buses arrive at the base level, trains on the mid-level and an all new state-of-the-art 10 seat-cabin gondola departing from the top level to the ski slopes.  With the floors inter-connected by lifts and escalators it makes for a seamless connection from Switzerland’s famously comfortable and efficient rail and bus network to the slopes.  All facilities have been designed to ensure accessibility for disabled visitors. The project involved rail operator the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn moving Fiesch’s main railway station 400 metres north of the old station’s site. The new gondola…

WORLD SNOW OVERVIEW #117

Issued: 11 December 2019 By Patrick "Snowhunter" Thorne With 20 to 30cm of fresh snow Spain’s Baqueira Beret, in the Pyreneees, now has 156 km (97 miles) of piste skiable with 60 to 90 cm of snow lying and 33 lifts operating. It's one of the biggest areas already open in the world. Beware though, the fresh snow has pushed the avalanche risk off-piste up to 3 on the scale to 5. INTRODUCTION EUROPE It has been a fairly quiet week for most ski areas in Europe in terms of fresh snow with nearly two weeks since the last big snowfall; however, it has been snowing in the Alps again in the past few days and more heavy snow is…

Heavy Snowfall Returns to the Alps

This week has started with heavy snowfall in much of the Alps after a fortnight with little or no fresh snow. Snowfall totals of up to 70cm (28 inches) in 24 hours were reported on Monday/Tuesday transforming conditions after two weeks with little fresh snow in most areas. Prior to the snowfall runs were getting hard packed with the best of the skiing above about 1800 metres, the new snow has brought fresh cover at altitude and snow cover down into lower mountain valleys reaching traditional village resorts. The Gstaad ski area in Switzerland posted the biggest snowfall total with several other Swiss areas reporting more than 60cm (two feet) of snow in 24 hours. In Austria the biggest accumulation…

Which resorts Have The Biggest Ski Areas Open So Far in 19/20?

As we start December and the start of the ‘main ski season’ is less than a fortnight away, the battle for attention between ski areas switches from which are the first to open to which has the most terrain open this early in the winter? In Austria Ischgl prides itself on its long season running from late November to early May but also makes great efforts to ensure it has a big ski area open from day one, shared with Swiss neighbour Samnuan – when many of the big ski areas that are open perhaps only have 10% of their terrain skiable in the first week of December. How much Ischgl can open varies from year to year depending on…

WORLD SNOW ROUNDUP #116

One North American ski area has now reported over a metre of snowfall this week. Powder Mountain, in Utah, reports 102cm (41 inches) of fresh snow and it opens for winter 2019-20 tomorrow! Issued: 04 December 2019 By Patrick "Snowhunter" Thorne INTRODUCTION December began with heavy snowfall in both Europe and North America.  For the Alps this was simply 'more of the same' after a very snowy November 2019. For North America, particularly the west where most of the snow had fallen, it was quite a relief after a mostly dry November. The snowfall in the Alps was heaviest again in the west and south with less snow further east.  This picture was mirrored to some extent in the US,…

Cairngorm Mountain Announce Plan To Switch to Biofuel

Snow making, road clearing and other diesel-fuelled machinery at Cairngorm Mountain is set to be powered by biofuel in the new year in a move which is expected to cut carbon emissions from the equipment by up to 90%. Operator, Cairngorm Mountain (Scotland) Limited (CMSL), has issued a tender to biofuel traders on the National Fuels Framework to supply the centre with hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), as a replacement for diesel. A groomer preparing the terrian park at Cairngorm Mountain. HVO is described as “a second-generation biofuel made from renewable, sustainable raw materials.” It’s the latest Scottish ski area to increase its use of renewable energy. Nevis Range introduced its own hydro-electric plant to cover its energy needs several years…

WORLD SNOW ROUNDUP #115

It's less than a week until meteorological summertime in the Southern Hemisphere but one New Zealand ski area, Whakapapa, is still open at weekends for skiing and boarding. Issued: 27 November 2019 By Patrick "Snowhunter" Thorne INTRODUCTION It has been another exceptionally snowy week in the Alps with much of the snowfall coming over the weekend, althou wfall was reported with the southern Alps along the French/Italian border seeing the heaviest snow. Some areas have now had more than 3 metres (10 feet) of snowfall this month with more to come in the final days of November. Along with the snowfall, there were strong winds in many areas, temporarily closing a lot of the resorts that have already opened and…

Back to the roots in Ruhpolding: Finding your inner balance in the winter woods

Technology is advancing as one innovation follows the other and the world keeps turning faster. In these times, some people are longing for the simple things in life. Occasionally the winter woods, some time off and your snowshoes are all it takes to find your inner balance in this fast-paced world. How about a bit of deceleration? Then it's time for a snowshoe tour in Ruhpolding, Upper Bavaria. The motto is: Back to the roots - in many ways. Head out into nature, inhale the fragrances of the trees and let the calming atmosphere have its effect on your soul and body. But why snowshoes?  Being one with nature while snowshoeingIn Ruhpolding everything is possible, from flat areas in the…

Toboggan tips from a traditional toboggan maker in Bavaria

If you want to experience winter in Germany, you have to pay Bavaria a visit. There is something for everyone here - whether relaxed days in the snow or unforgettable adventures in the forest. And who better to tell you about it than those who have been calling winter their favourite time of the year here since childhood? Locals tell of cross-country skiing, winter hiking, snowshoe tours, winter survival, tobogganing or game feeding in Bavaria. They cultivate their customs and traditions - but they also know where the perfect winter spots are and the best part: They even reveal their secret tips.  A small brick house, located in sleepy, wintery Franconia. Smoke rises from the chimney. In the middle of…