It has been a slow start to the 2020 season in the southern hemisphere. First, of course, because of the virus. Then when areas could finally open in Australia and New Zealand, there was limited early-season snow cover. Ironically there were huge snowfalls in one mountain range – The Andes – but ski areas there remain in lockdown.
Although there are still less than half the usual amount of ski areas open in the southern hemisphere than there would be without the virus, the numbers are slowly moving in their favour.
Last week there were, for the first time, more ski areas opened in the southern hemisphere in 2020 than there were in the northern, where about 15 glacier type ski centres have re-opened as lockdowns have eased in Europe, North America and Japan.
However there was still more terrain open in the north as a number of glaciers had 20-30km of runs open each, when the most any southern hemisphere area had was 20km.
That has changed in the last few days though after big snowfalls in both Australia and New Zealand.
Perisher and Thredbo in Australia have reported up to 85cm of fresh snow and have 30km and 25km of slopes open respectively.
But New Zealand ski areas are the first open areas to post bases of more than a metre for 2020 (elsewhere in the southern hemisphere, closed ski areas in the Andes claim up to 49 metres of snow is lying!) and Mt Hutt (pictured top) reports the biggest ski area in the world open at present with 36km of runs skiable. Coronet Peak has 30km of runs open.
Treble Cone has the deepest base of an open southern hemisphere ski area with 1.3m lying on its upper runs, 5cm more than Mt Hutt.
For some context however, adding together all of the open terrain at the 35 ski areas currently open comes to less than the total terrain in the world’s biggest ski area, the 3 Valleys, when it’s fully open.