We’re in that short time window each year when the six ski areas that only open during spring or summer are all open at once.
Because of unpredictable snow conditions some years, that doesn’t happen every year and in 2020 it’s particularly welcome news as only a few months ago I was unclear whether any would be able to open in 2020 due to the virus pandemic.
The ‘summer only’ areas are different to those winter resorts that stay-open, or re-open, high altitude glacier skiing in the summer like Zermatt or Val d’Isere; and they’re not southern hemisphere ski areas where resorts only open between late autumn through winter to early spring.
They’re northern hemisphere ski areas in locations which are often cut off by snow in winter, or too cold and dark to operate in the winter season.
The six are Beartooth Basin on the Wyoming/Montana border in the USA (Pictured above on June 9th); Passo Stelvio in Italy, Gassan in Japan (below) and three glacier ski areas in Norway (including Fonna, pictured top at the weekend).
All six were open for the first time this year at the weekend as Passo Stelvio and the Stryn glacier in Norway (below) opened for their 2020 seasons. Stelvio had been delayed by the pandemic whilst Stryn opened a fortnight later than planned as there was so much spring snow to dig away to get to it.
Gassan re-opened at the start of the month having been closed in May due to the pandemic lockdown in Japan.
It’s unclear how long all six will be able to operate together. Despite receiving unseasonal early summer snowfalls which blocked access to the slopes last week, Beartooth Basin says its operation is now on a day-to-day basis as summer thawing means rocks are increasingly appearing through the snow.
A seventh mostly-spring-skiing area, Riksgransen in Sweden, which usually opens from late-February to late May and this year was one of the few ski areas in the world to operate through the pandemic, will also re-open this week. It traditionally opens for three days of skiing and boarding around Midsummer, offering the novelty of snowsports under the midnight sun in its northerly location within the Arctic Circle where there’s 24 hour daylight at this time of year.