The 2020 ski season in the southern hemisphere has got underway earlier than most recently expected – although later than originally envisaged.
The small ski area of Afriski in the land-locked southern African nation of Lesotho has revealed that it opened to local skiers and snowboarders yesterday (Friday 5th June).
The area has had sunny but cold weather for several weeks after some May snowfalls but has had snowmaking operating and has a few hundred metres of snow slope accessible to locals. Lesotho is completely surrounded by South Africa, however the border is currently closed.
Before the global virus pandemic began the earliest opening date announced for a southern hemisphere ski area was May 30th for the Happy Valley ‘snow play’ area on Mt Ruapehu in New Zealand, which has an all-weather snow aiming system, with Mt Hutt in New Zealand planning to open on June 5th, the first full resort opening.
Afriski also said it expected to open around June 4th, but later said it would delay doing so to June 18th. Australian areas had planned to open from today, June 6th.
Since lockdowns have begun to ease resorts have been issuing revised opening dates with Mt Hutt still the first in New Zealand, aiming for June 12th now, next week, with Australian ski areas starting to open from June 22nd.
As yet there’s no news when ski areas might open in the Andes with lockdowns still in place in Argentina and Chile.