Issued: 27 April 2022
By Patrick “Snowhunter” Thorne
We’re down to the last hundred or so ski areas still open in the northern hemisphere for the 21-22 season and a good chunk of them, including the last still open in the Dolomites, the Pyrenees, Midwest and Eastern Europe, are due to close this coming weekend having made it to May 1st. The snow hasn’t stopped falling though with a heavy coverage in the Pyrenees after most centres had closed there (Serra de Estrella in Portugal reported its best conditions of the season so far at the weekend) and there was a decent dump too up high in the Alps and Pyrenees. 30 or so European areas will stay open beyond May 1st, including the first of Norway’s summer ski glaciers opening for its 2022 season.
The big news from North America has been more late-season snowfall, taking April totals beyond January to March numbers combined for many resorts in the western US. Resorts re-opened and some planning to close extended their season as another 2-3 feet came down.
The season is also into its final week for most still-open areas in still-closed-to-the-outside-world Japan. At the same time, the ski areas of the southern hemisphere are ramping up for the start of their 2022 season, about five weeks away. The Andes saw heavy snowfall at the end of last week adding to excitement levels there. It’s hoped that this could be the first fairly normal season here, as well as in southern Africa, Australia and New Zealand, since 2019, all being well.
About 99% of Europe’s ski areas have now closed and almost half of the 60-80 still open are planning to end their seasons at the end of this coming Sunday, May 1st. Conditions are looking good for this late in the spring for many though with fresh snowfall above 1500m in the Alps at the start of this week.
AUSTRIA REPORT Great conditions for late April up on Austrian glaciers and other high slopes. Temperatures stayed at or below freezing above 2500m and there was even a bit of fresh snowfall to start the new week. The year-round Hintertux glacier (20/305cm / 8/122″) has the country’s deepest base and reports that it has moved its terrain park up onto the glacier and begun daily shaping up at 2,800m, scheduled to continue into May. Ski areas still open but closing this weekend include Solden (55/284cm / 22/114″) and Obertauern (120/180cm / 48/72″). However, more ski areas will be staying open through may in Austria than in any other European country.
AUSTRIA FORECAST Warming up a lot for the final few days of April under sunny skies. Temperatures may hit +25C down at 1000m, although much cooler up high still. Temperatures should dip with the possibility of more snowfall up high on Saturday.
SWITZERLAND REPORT Even some of the highest Swiss ski centres have ended their seasons too, although some like Zermatt (5/150cm / 2/60″) remain open year-round of course and Engelberg (0/300cm / 0/120″), which is still posting the country’s deepest base, if no longer quite Europe’s, is open through to the end of May. Crans Montana (0/70cm / 0/28″) also extended their season to the start of June. As with the rest of the Alps, cool weather over the past few days and some fresh snow showers have made for a good end to April on those slopes that are still open. Ski areas still open this coming weekend include Murren (0/70cm / 0/28″), Andermatt (0/70cm / 0/28”), Samnaun (0/70cm / 0/28”) and Verbier and the Diavolezza Glacier (0/60cm / 0/24”) near St Moritz will stay open to the 8th.
SWITZERLAND FORECAST The latter half of this week looks clear and sunny with temperatures at lower elevations passing +20C in afternoons and potentially even hitting +5C at 3,000m, but it should cool again at the weekend.
FRANCE REPORT We’re down to half a dozen French ski areas still open to start May and next week will see the season end there completely when Tignes (77/210cm / 31/84”) and Val Thorens (110/160cm / 44/64”) end their seasons. No French glacier resorts stay open through mid-May, although the first of three that do re-open for summer skiing later in the year, Les 2 Alpes (50/200cm / 20/80”), does so at the very end of May. It has been a changeable week with cool temperatures for the time of year (still getting below freezing up high, around +5 to +15C in lower valleys) with some snow showers to start the week up high. The changeable weather has led to considerable avalanche danger, at 3 or the scale to 5. Chamonix (Grands Montets) (0/700cm / 0/28”), La Clusaz (0/250cm / 0/100”) and Val d‘Isere (77/210cm / 31/84”) are among the ski areas still open to this weekend.
FRANCE FORECAST Full sun forecast for the latter half of this week and although temperatures are in the range of -5 to +5C above 2500m, we’ll be in the low 20s as we enter May down in the valleys.
ITALY REPORT Similar to France, about half a dozen Italian ski areas (naturally mostly those with high altitude skiing) are aiming to make it to the first weekend in May, coming up. The survivors include Livigno (0/75cm / 0/28″), which reports over 100km of slopes still open, the glacier skiing at Val Senales (35/175cm / 14/70″), which is still fully open, Cervinia (0/139cm / 0/56″) and in the Dolomites Cortina (50/70cm / 20/28″) with 20km of slopes still open. Like France, there’s a period when all Italian ski areas are closed in Italy, although it lasts just a few weeks here. The Presena Glacier (20/250cm / 8/100”), which currently has 8km (5 miles) of high altitude terrain open is operating until the middle of May and will most likely be the last Italian centre open for 21-22. There’s then a bit of a gap before Passo Stelvio opens for its summer ski season a few weeks later followed by Cervinia re-opening to provide access to the skiing above Zermatt.
ITALY FORECAST A largely sunny and increasingly warm week ahead for most Italian regions, with temperatures reaching 20C in lower valleys in the afternoon. Up above 2500m it should stay closer to freezing though and drip well below overnight, there’s even a chance of a weekend snow shower to see in May up at 3000m.
GERMANY REPORT The final weekend of the season is coming up for Germany and already your choice of indoor snow areas to visit outnumber the two remaining indoor centres. They’re the country’s highest slopes on the Zugspitze glacier (230/230cm / 92/92”) and the Nebelhorn sector of one of the largest German resorts, Oberstdorf (0/100cm / 0/40”). They have about 20 and 10km (13/6 miles) of slopes still open respectively. Both close at the end of Sunday, May 1st. The weather this past week was well changeable with snowfalls up high. Rain lower down, freezing point around 1500-2000m altitude, plenty of sunny spells too.
GERMANY FORECAST Springtime moving into the ascendancy, lots of sunshine, double-digit plus temperatures even at 2000m and getting into the +20s Celsius in valleys.
SCANDINAVIA REPORT Scandinavian ski centres typically have the best of the late-season conditions in Europe with temperatures staying lower later into spring and 2022 has been no exception. Most stayed open to last weekend with some of the biggest areas, including Sweden’s Are, going to May 1st on Sunday. At the same time though the first of Norway’s three summer ski areas, Fonna, is due to open for the season on Sunday as well. There are also ski areas up in Lapland, including Levi (65/90cm / 26/36”) and Ruka (60/60cm / 24/24″), which have been open for nearly seven months since the season start back in early October that stay open another week to the second Sunday in May.
SCANDINAVIA FORECAST Mostly clear skies forecast, staying close to freezing up in Lapland, more like 3-8 degrees above in mountains further south in Norway and Sweden.
SCOTLAND REPORT Scotland’s 21-22 season officially ended on Sunday with Glencoe in the west of the country the last to close. It has been another challenging winter with most of the period from mid-December to mid-February lost due to warm temperatures and/or lack of accumulated snow, then about a month of adequate to good snow cover before ski areas began having to close in the east from late-March on. There are still large snow patches left on the country’s higher peaks for tourers.
SCOTLAND FORECAST The weather is continuing to be mostly dry with some sunny periods, temperatures in the +5 to +15C range.
SPAIN / ANDORRA REPORT The season is about over in the Pyrenees, despite some very cold and snowy weather over the past week. Further west this allowed Serra de Estrella in Portugal to announce all 14 of its trails were open and reported the best conditions of the season this last weekend. Andorra’s Vallnord region also stayed open a week longer than originally planned. But the only area that’s confirmed it’s staying open this coming weekend is Spain’s Masella (20/60cm / 8/24”), which stays open until May 1st, although only about 20km (15%) of its runs remain skiable.
SPAIN / ANDORRA FORECAST Sunshine (mostly) and showers (some) over the coming week, potentially snowy on the highest slopes. Temperature range -5C to +15C.
BULGARIA / ROMANIA REPORT All the leading ski areas in Bulgaria were closed after Easter weekend and Poiana Brasov was the last still open in Romania, but it closed on Sunday. So the only centre still operating, at weekends only, is Serbia’s largest resort, Kopaonik, which plans to stay open to at least May 3rd. There’s limited altitude terrain open, along with Europe’s longest dry ski slope, as temperatures have been climbing up to above 20 degrees Celsius at the base and even into double-figures up high, although still dipping a degree or two below freezing overnight.
BULGARIA / ROMANIA FORECAST Sunny with temperatures of -5 to +10C in the mountains, warmer in the valleys.
CZECH REPUBLIC / SLOVAKIA REPORT All of the larger centres in the Czech Republic are now closed but at least three centres are powering on through to the start of May in the Slovak Republic and one, Tatranská Lomnica (40/50cm / 16/20″) has said it intends to keep the lifts turning at weekends, thanks to machine-made snow, through to mid-May. Otherwise, the country’s largest resort, Jasná (30/70cm / 12/28”), still with about half of its 40km+ of terrain open on the upper mountain, and Vratna (40/50cm / 16/20”), plan to stay open to this coming Sunday. They’ve certainly been helped by temperatures remaining unusually cold and even some snow flurries up high.
CZECH REPUBLIC / SLOVAKIA FORECAST Skies clearing as we approach the weekend, temperatures still low on high slopes, just a few degrees above freezing in the afternoon, much warmer down in valleys, unsurprisingly.
NORTH AMERICA INTRO It has been quite a week, particularly on the western side of North America with the snowy April continuing and if anything intensifying. In fact, US resorts have now had more snowfall in April than January to March combined. That’s a bit odd, though not quite unheard of. The latest big dumps came as most ski areas have closed, leading some to extend seasons and a few to reopen for a day or two to celebrate all the snow. Of the bigger resorts, The Palisades, at Tahoe in California, is the latest ski area on the US West to announce it is staying open later in the spring than planned, following ongoing heavy snowfall. It is now targeting May 15th as its closing day, have previously said May 1st. The Palisades had earlier announced a May 1st closure date (unusually early for them) due to rapidly thawing cover and warned it might not make it to May 1st the way things were going. However, it has had three feet (90cm) of snowfall in the past week and there’s much more in the forecast. The weather extremes have led experts to warn of high avalanche danger in the backcountry and those trying to reach resorts had temporary travel difficulties and power outages to contend with, but that largely cleared by the weekend. There was good new snowfall in the east of the continent too. Again, nearly everywhere has closed now, but those still going had fresh cover to enjoy at the weekend.
ROCKIES REPORT The snow has kept falling in the Rockies just as more ski areas end their seasons. Some though are reacting to the fresh snowfall by re-opening, Blacktail Mountain Ski Area in Montana being one of them, reopening last Saturday having previously ended its season, to enjoy the fresh pow.
The coming weekend is the last of an extended season for vail (8/59” / 10/147cm) in Colorado and Solitude (28/84” / 70/210cm). Ski areas staying open later into May include Arapahoe Basin (20/63” / 50/157cm), Breckenridge (12/24” / 60/120cm), Loveland (20/61” / 50/152cm) and Winter Park (28/72” / 70/180cm) in Colorado and Snowbird (36/98” / 90/245cm) in Utah.
ROCKIES FORECAST Warming weather in the Rockies and mostly dry too, just the chance of the odd snow flurry up high. Temperatures heading towards the mid-50s at resort bases and plenty of sunshine forecast.
USA WEST REPORT The snowy weather in April continued into a fourth week on the Pacific Coast with some ski areas in California reaching three-foot (90cm) snowfall totals by last weekend for the previous seven days, the best numbers since December even though most are now closed. Mammoth Mountain (45/81” / 112/203cm), usually the last area still open in the region staying open to early summer (no closing date has been set yet for this season) reported ‘El Dumpo’ at the end of last week bringing the biggest, well, April dump yet. It still has about half of its terrain open. The Palisades at Tahoe in California is the latest ski area on the US West to announce it is staying open later in the spring than planned, following ongoing heavy snowfall. It is now targeting May 15th as its closing day, have previously said May 1st. Further north ski centres including Mt Bachelor, Mt Hood Meadows and Timberline in Oregon, Crystal Mountain and Stevens Pass in Washington state and Alyeska up in Alaska are still open (weekends only now in some cases) and still posting the western world’s thickest snowpack. Another Washington ski area, Mission Ridge, announced they have reopened to offer skiing until May 1st, for the first time in 39 years. The resort had originally closed after a bonus final day of skiing on April 16th but reopened due to all the snowfall. However, Mt Baker, which holds the all-time world record for most snowfall in a season from back in 1999-2000 and which has had one of its snowiest Aprils for the last few years, did call it a day on 21-22 at the weekend. All the fresh snowfall caused some travel issues at the end of last week and agencies are warning of high avalanche danger in the backcountry.
USA WEST FORECAST It appears that the late winter weather that has dominated the west over the latter part of April is finally ending and much of the west will be dry with valley temperatures hitting the high 50s/low 60s in California. Some weekend snow showers and cooler temperatures further north.
MIDWEST REPORT The season is all but over in the Midwest, temperatures have remained fairly cold, but the slow thaw continues and what snow is left is just a band of white on green hillsides. Two areas are aiming to open this coming weekend for a final blast, Mt Boemia (60/60” / 150/150cm) in Michigan and Lutsen Mountains (36/48” 90/145cm) in Minnesota. They reported a few snowflakes at the start of the week but are really on final weekend mode for snow coverage.
MIDWEST FORECAST Temperatures remaining cool, with light winds, ranging from the high 20s to low 40s. What precipitation there is will most likely be rain showers.
USA EAST REPORT Snowfall in the Northeastern US in the middle of last week turned out to be heavier than expected with up to 14” (35cm) falling in 24 hours breaking April snowfall records at some locations in some states including New York causing logistical issues including power outages. Although most ski areas in the east are now closed for the season, there were unusually severe winter storms last week. For ski resorts that were still open for skiing and boarding and not trying to offer summer sports now, it was good news though. One of them, Killington (16/24” / 40/60cm) in Vermont posted pictures of fabulous conditions going into the weekend and reported 8 inches (20cm) of late April freshies. It’s also good news for their plans to keep their superstar trail open as long as possible through May.
USA EAST FORECAST The forecast is surprisingly cool and occasionally snowy for the end of April and the start of May with temperatures in the northeast not expected to get much above freezing and more snow showers forecast.
CANADA WEST REPORT We are down to the final four still open in western Canada with Nakiska, the closest ski area to Calgary, closing at the weekend. There’s still nearly a month of the season left at Sunshine (50/217cm / 20/87”), which still reports nearly all of its terrain open and had plenty of fresh snowfall over the past week. North America’s largest ski area Whistler Blackcomb (20/232cm / 8/93”) is also staying open until the latter half of May. Nearer to Vancouver, Grouse Mountain is open this weekend. There was a lot of fresh snowfall in the last seven days with the Fortress Mountain cat skiing operation near Nakiska re-opening for extra days to make the most of all the fresh late-season powder there. Those closing this coming weekend include Marmot Basin (148/148cm / 59/59″) up at Jasper.
CANADA WEST FORECAST After the recent snowfall, the weather looks more settled over the coming week with temperatures still staying cool, in the freezing to plus five Celsius range on higher slopes.
CANADA EAST REPORT Most of the leading ski centres in eastern Canada have now closed for the season with Mont Sainte Anne in Eastern Quebec the last to do so, on Sunday. But Sommet Saint-Sauveur (35/45cm / 14/18”), which has a reputation for operating a small terrain park area at weekends before and after the main season in the region, plans to re-open at least one more weekend and see in the start of May. The past week has seen those trying to maintain the snow cover battle changeable conditions with temperatures still fairly cool with daytime highs at the centre’s base around +10C but cooler up high and dropping to -5C some nights.
CANADA EAST FORECAST Fairly clear skies for the week ahead, with temperatures climbing to +5 – +10C, even at altitude.
JAPAN REPORT Japan’s main ski season is rapidly approaching its end, but there may be more ski areas open here into the first week of May than in most other countries. Niseko (40/265cm / 16/106″) has seen its base depth drop another half-metre (20″) this past week but the Grand Hirafu base will be open another week, through to May 5th. Temperatures are climbing, typically in the +5 to +15C range on the slopes, skies have been clear and really it’s just spring thaw time. Summer ski area Gassan (290/820cm / 116/328”) may have the world’s deepest base but it’s not immune from the thaw either, losing about 50cm (20”) from a week ago.
JAPAN FORECAST The forecast is for most of the country’s ski areas to see warming temperatures and plenty of sunshine, good for springtime, less so for snow. But it is the start of May next week.