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Mushi-atsui! (Hot and humid)

Late July 2018 Over the last month or so you may well have noticed some items on the international news about the extreme weather conditions being experienced in Japan this summer. In the first part of July, Western Japan endured torrential rains and widespread flooding which has unfortunately taken hundreds of lives and caused havoc over large areas. Many homes and other buildings have been destroyed, so a full recovery is going to be a slow process. At the same time, this year the official ‘rainy season’ (tsuyu) generally started a little earlier than usual and was unseasonably short, bringing comparatively little rain to many eastern regions of the country. Next up was the blistering heat. Japan is no stranger…

Japan 2018-2019 early season

23rd November is ‘Labour Thanksgiving Day’ in Japan, or kinro-kansha-no-hi in Japanese. Various events are often held on this national holiday. Importantly for us snow lovers, it is the date when some of the major ski resorts in Japan hope to be able to open from - whatever day of the week it falls on. This year, the 23rd was a Friday, and at the time of writing that was one week ago. Famous ski resorts in Niseko, Hakuba, Nozawa and Yuzawa (amongst others) always have the 23rd November as their planned opening date of the ski season, though in reality it is always a rather optimistic target. It is perhaps more of a marker, with that date being the…

A Big New Music Festival Coming to Chamonix

Music festivals have become big business in the mountains.  There are no dozens and dozens of them, some run by independent companies, others by the resorts themselves, often a combination of the two. For ski resorts the festivals care seen as good news as they bring in more people including some who wouldn’t normally visit a ski resort and they’re usually staged in quieter weeks at the start of end of the season. Now Chamonix has announced it will partner with a major French summer festival to launch the first winter version of the event next April. The first Musilac pop-rock festival in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc will take place from 19th – 21st April and the famous French resort is expecting…

The 2017-2018 Japan season has ended… almost!

The spring ski season in Japan often seems rather long, with quite a few ski resorts at higher elevations managing to remain at least part open until the second week of May. It has seemed particularly long this time around. I think it is fair to say that most regions around Japan did not receive much snowfall once we got into March this year and so it was good that there was generally decent snowfall during the early and peak season months. So here we are closing in on the end of May. By the end of the ‘Golden Week’ run of national holidays on 6th May, most ski resorts had closed leaving just a handful of ski lifts still…

4 of 5 Highland Scottish Ski Centres Open For 17-18, Earliest Opening Ever for One

Four of the five Scottish ski centres have opened for the 2017-18 ski season this week. The first to open, Glencoe on the West Coast (pictured above this morning and in video below), said this was their earliest ever opening. https://www.facebook.com/GlencoeMountain/videos/1959031034124668/   Cairngorm opened a top-to-bottom run serviced by their funicular railway yesterday and posted the image below of some of the first arrivals.   The Lecht and Glenshee have both opened limited terrain today too. The four centres opening follows the opening of the ski runs by the Lowther Hills Ski Club in the south of Scotland last weekend. All four Highland centres report ‘early season conditions’ with thin, in some cases very thin, cover on parts of their open…

Mixed Weather Messages as US Resort Opens Then Closes Again

Conditions in Western North America seem to be fluctuating dramatically with some big snowfalls but also high humidity and rain at times.   As a result whilst some resorts are still opening earlier than expected due to the big snowfalls, others, sometimes in the same state, are delaying opening and in at least one case, has announced it is closing again after opening for the season. The biggest name casualty if the warm temperatures was Snowbird in Utah which opened last Wednesday for the US Thanksgiving Holiday but was forced to close again by Saturday.  An online statement said, "While a strong effort was made from our operations team, unseasonably warm weather has forced a "Delay of Game" and put…

Scottish 17-18 Ski Season Close To Kick Off

Hopes of an early start to the Scottish ski season have risen as more snow has fallen through the past 24 hours. The Lowther Hills club field in southern Scotland (image from the local area taken this morning below) looks set to get bragging rights for being first in the country to open for 17-18 as it plans to open its slopes to members this evening after fresh snow overnight – subject to being able to persuade enough volunteers to man the facilities. In the Highlands Glencoe (pictured top) reported 10cm of snowfall in an hour today as part of ongoing snowstorms there. The snow cover at the five Highland centres is so far too thin but several centres have…

Niseko Opening on Thursday

Japan’s famed ski resort of Niseko has announced it will open for the season this Thursday, November 23rd. The powder snow for which it is most famous has started falling in abundance  with around 100cm blanketing the village over the past week and a further 80cm forecast for the coming few days. Unusually for a Japanese ski centre in the 21st century, Niseko will see two new quad chairlifts go in to service this December in two of its sectors. Both will especially benefit beginner skiers, but there are advantages for more advanced skiers too. Firstly Tokyu Resort Services have upgraded the Grand Hirafu's Ace Family Pair lift to a high speed quad. The original lift was running at capacity…

Food First on the Slopes?

A new study conducted on behalf of tour operator Club Med has found that the range of restaurants and bars in the local area is the most important factor when it comes to making their ski resort destination choice. The claim is made following the consumer research conducted by YouGov who contacted 1000 adults between 5th and 11th October 2017 on behalf of Club Med. “Previously an overlooked aspect of a holiday, 84% of winter sports fans say their week away is the ideal opportunity to try new foods. For 36%, the range of restaurants and bars in the local area is the most important factor when selecting a destination,” a Club Med spokesperson commented. Other stats the survey threw…

Dozens of Ski Areas Open Across North America

An unprecedented number of ski areas opened across North America at the weekend, several claiming it was their earliest ever opening, or at least the earliest for several decades.  One area said it was their earliest opening for 68 years. The decision by many to open seems to be in response to early snowfalls in some areas whilst others have used ever improving snow making systems to open terrain. In total more than 40 ski areas opened.  Some were open for the weekend only although most say they’ll re-open next weekend. In Canada ski areas opened from East to West Coasts with more than a dozen areas opening.  They included coastal areas Cypress Mountain and Grouse Mountain, as well as…