It’s early days of course and it might yet all go wrong but October has been a very promising early start to the 18-19 season, and we begin November with about 30 resorts already open, many of them having seen several feet of snowfall already.
The USA received some record-breaking biggest-ever-October snowfalls in the middle of the month allowing Wolf Creek in Colorado to claim the kudos for being the first on the continent to open, but since then eight more have joined it from East to West coasts, and November will see dozens then hundreds more open through the month.
In Europe things weren’t looking great until the final weekend of the month when huge snowfalls arrived in the Alps (and significant snowfalls in most other mountainous areas), that again set records, as well as transforming conditions on already-open glaciers.
There’s also been snowfalls reported in Japan and many other areas of the skiing world.
Austria has had the most ski areas open in the world for the past few months but the USA has surprisingly stepped up to equal it this past weekend, the last of October, with both countries having nine resorts open. Eight of Austria’s are glaciers and having struggled to stay open through the warm, Autumn they’re now celebrating 50-70cm snow falls over the final few days of October, transforming conditions for the better. Hintertux, pictured above, has had 60cm (two feet) of fresh snow. No other Austrian areas are scheduled to open until mid-November when first Obergurgl and Obertauern are due to open, then, over the following 5 weeks, the rest. Kitzbuhel also has some terrain already open. Hintertux is pictured above.
There’s been much welcome fresh snow at the only ski area currently open in France, Tignes, pictured above. But most of the country’s other altitude resorts have seen snow too which is particularly good news for resorts like Val Thorens, scheduled to open from mid-November, and already boasting a good covering of snow.
Italy has seen the biggest snowfalls in Europe this week with 1.8m (six feet) of snow reported at Bormio 3000 although it’s not all good news as Passo Stelvio with 1.5m (five feet) of fresh snow closed early curtailing the summer ski season there. Cervinia and Val Senales, both open, have seen huge snowfalls too and the resort of Sulda is opening from November 1st with big accumulations as well.
A remarkably snowy end to October (and forecast start of November) in Switzerland too with up to 175cm (nearly six feet) of snow reported here too. Five ski areas are scheduled to open at the start of November joining already open Saas Fee, St Moritz (Diavolezza glacier) and Zermatt. Verbier will be first on Friday 2nd with Andermatt, Davos, Engelberg and Glacier 3000 above Gstaad and les Diablerets also opening for the first weekend of the month.
Up in Scandinavia there’s not been much open in October, only Ruka in Lapland has opened slopes made from snow saved from last winter. However hundreds of Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish ski areas should be opening though November as temperatures have dropped, snow cannons are firing and some snow has been falling. Bjorli in Norway is one that should be open from the first weekend in November.
Spain and the Pyrenees
Some big snowfalls in the mountains of Spain, including at Sierra Nevada in the south, the Pyrenees (where resorts have reported up to 30cm of snow in the last few days of October) and even over the border in Portugal at Serra de Estrela, the country’s only ski area, pictured above at the end of October which has actually opened for the season at the start of November! Some ski areas in the French Pyrenees suggest they’ll open for the season from mid-November, for most other areas it will probably be the end of the month unless they open early.
It’s been a white end to October in Scotland too although warm, wet and windy weather forecast for the first weekend of the month may thaw the thin cover at the start of the month. Glencoe and The Lecht have all-weather snowmaking machines now though so whatever the weather it seems certain there’ll be some snowsports in Scotland by the end of the month and possibly sooner rather than later.
It looks like the start of Canada’s ski season will be the second week of November after Nakiska, which has hoped to open on the first weekend of the month, decided to delay doing so until at least the 10th of the month. Lake Louise, Sunshine, Marmot Basin and Norquay will all open around then too. Sunshine reported a 40cm snowfall in 24 hours at the end of October.
The US is having an amazing early season with an unprecedented nine ski areas open the last weekend of October. The snow is still falling and more resorts will be opening throughout November with hundreds aiming to open ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday at the end of the month.