Issued: 05 May 2022
By Patrick “Snowhunter” Thorne
There have been plenty more pond-skimming and swimwear-skiing and boarding events across European and North American ski slopes over the past weekend. About two-thirds of the 150 ski areas that were open to see in the start of May have now ended their season, including big-name resorts like Chamonix, Vail and Verbier. But 50 or so including many more famous names, usually thanks to a northerly latitude, a glacier or just a huge winter snow pile that hasn’t thawed yet, are soldiering on later into May.
Some have had a fresh snow boost in the last seven days with fresh powder reported in Alberta, Vermont, Scandinavia and other spots to start May off right. We’re also back into that brief window when you can ski under the midnight sun in northern Scandinavia.
On the other side of the equator, it’s now just a month until the highly anticipated start of the southern hemisphere’s 2022 ski season, the first for three years when international travel is expected to be possible to all destinations and pandemic closures will, hopefully, be a thing of the past.
There have been more promising signs of pre-season snowfall, particularly in the Andes where ski areas like Catedral in Argentina and Nevados de Chillan in Chile have posted images of some quite significant accumulations for this early in the autumn. In fact, Catedral has a special (earliest ever?) opening for 300 lucky skiers last weekend, for a preview weekend.
From next week we will move to our May – September weekly snow report format prioritising southern hemisphere destinations while keeping up to date on summer skiing options in Asia, Europe and North America.
There were some small snowfalls for the start of May as most of Europe came to the ski season end. The last areas still open in Germany, Portugal and Serbia that had still been operating closed in the last seven days. Snow was reported though high up in Scandinavia, on high slopes in the Alps and even way down south on the mountains of Greece. Slopes do remain open in the Alps, although it’s the final few days of 21-22 in France as well as up north in Finland, Norway and Sweden where it’s now 24-hour daylight at some centres.
AUSTRIA REPORT There were still a dozen Austrian areas open on the 1st of May, one of the highest numbers of any country in the world, and though more than half have now closed this will be the country with the most choice of destinations in Europe through much of the coming six months. Hintertux (20/305cm / 8/122”) continues to post the deepest base on the continent and has about two-thirds of its terrain still open. You can also ski through May at the Stubai Glacier (0/260cm / 0/104”) and Kaunertal Glacier (110/190cm / 44/76”), which both still have 50km (31 miles) of slopes open. We’re into the last week of the season at Solden (56/295cm / 23/118”) and the Pitztal (75/275cm / 30/110″) however. Both have been open since early September so are completing eight-month ski seasons. They’re due to reopen in 4 months. The Molltal (0/160cm / 0/64”) will also close its long season on Sunday, but usually starts all over again by the end of May, perhaps able to claim then to be the first to open for the 22-23 ski season!
AUSTRIA FORECAST Fairly cool and frequently showery for early May with some sunny spells but also snow showers up high, rain down in valleys. Temperatures not really getting above freezing at 3000m, -5 to +5C at 2000m and +5 to +15C in valleys.
SWITZERLAND REPORT The Swiss ski season is winding down fast now we’ve entered May too. Five more centres in the country including Adelboden, Andermatt, Glacier 3000, Samnaun and Verbier all made it to May 1st but then called it a day on their winters 21-22. Five Swiss centres are still open though as we move further into the month. There’s the year-round centre with Europe’s highest slopes on the Klein Matterhorn above Zermatt (0/140cm / 0/56”), Crans Montana (0/70cm / 0/28”), which has extended its season to June 6th as well as the Titlis glacier above Engelberg (0/260cm / 0/104”), which still has a fortnight of its season left to run. For the Diavolezza glacier (20/60cm / 8/24”) near St Moritz, this is expected to be the last weekend of the season. You can also ski weekends until the middle of the month at Murren (0/200cm / 0/80″).
SWITZERLAND FORECAST A cold start to May although temperatures are expected to climb next week. Up on glaciers overnight lows around – 5 to -10C, climbing to freezing/+2C highs in the daytime. Warmer down at 2000m, freezing to +10C. Some snow showers are possible up high but just a few centimetres of snowfall.
FRANCE REPORT The final weekend of the 21-22 season is coming up in France with just two areas still open, Tignes (73/230 / 29/92”) and Val Thorens (110/160cm / 44/64”). Val Thorens plans to make a big weekend of it with festivities and ski racing. France will then have nowhere open for three weeks, other than the indoor snow slope at Amneville. It won’t be long until ski slopes re-open in France though with Les 2 Alpes (50/200cm / 20/80”) announcing an extended summer ski season there, starting on the last weekend of the month. As to conditions, the past few days have been cold at altitude with occasional light snowfalls on glaciers.
FRANCE FORECAST It should stay cold up on glaciers for the rest of this week with sunny spells and the odd centimetre of snowfall. Reaching +5C at 2500m and much warmer at lower elevations.
ITALY REPORT Cervinia, Cortina, Livigno and Macugnaga were among the Italian areas calling it a day on the 21-22 season there on Sunday. Only the Presena Glacier (20/250cm / 8/100) above Passo Tonale remains open for the first week of May, actually due to stay open to the middle of the month. There’ll then be a fortnight with no Italian slopes open before Passo Stelvio opens at the end of the month for its 2022 summer ski season. The weather in Italy has been quite changeable, with more clouds and showers in the mountains than an average week. 10-20C in valleys but up at glacier height still fairly cool, mostly below freezing and only occasionally getting a degree or two into positive numbers in the afternoons.
ITALY FORECAST Staying cold up on Italian glaciers with overnight lows of -10C and not getting above freezing in the daytime over the next few days. However, it should warm a little by the weekend. 5-15 degrees down in valleys.
GERMANY REPORT The 21-22 ski season in Germany is now over with the last centres still open at Oberstdorf and the Zugspitze glacier closing on Sunday. The only options now available other than hiking up to high-lying snow are the country’s half-dozen indoor snow centres. The German ski season normally resumes in November.
GERMANY FORECAST The German 21-22 ski season is now over.
SCANDINAVIA REPORT Most Scandinavian ski areas that were still open for 21-22 at the weekend. In Norway, the Fonna summer ski glacier had been due to open to fill the resulting gap but has had to delay doing so by a fortnight due to a delay in parts needed for a key lift arriving.
Most of Sweden’s ski areas have now closed with the largest in Scandinavia, Are, ending its season at the weekend. The season continues further north though and it’s all happening at Riksgränsen this month as it enters the final few weeks of its 2022 season. A fortnight when its signature offer of skiing and boarding under the midnight sun is possible once more begins next week as 24-hour daylight reaches its latitude, 200km (125 miles) north of the Arctic Circle, but before then the Scandinavian Big Mountain Championship staged since 1992 on the steep mountainsides of the Nordalsfjället is back from Thursday to Saturday, May 4th to 6th.
Most ski areas are also closed in Finland but two larger centres, Levi and Ruka, are staying open to this weekend, both completing seven month ski seasons. Ruka reports that despite pandemic restrictions it has passed its previous all-time record for skier visits, going over half a million last week for the first time. Both areas have the longest seasons in Europe for non-glacier resorts.
SCANDINAVIA FORECAST Fairly cool and fairly snowy up in the far north with temperatures hovering close to freezing, often a few degrees below and frequent snow showers rolling through.
SCOTLAND REPORT Scotland’s ski season finished on April 24th with Glencoe the final area to close its ski lifts, although indoor snow skiing and boarding is still possible at the country’s centre at Braehead near Glasgow. There are also some high-altitude snow patches possible to access by more determined ski tourers.
SCOTLAND FORECAST The Scottish 21-22 ski season is now over.
SPAIN / ANDORRA REPORT The 21-22 season ended earlier than expected and earlier than usual in Spain. One ski area in the Pyrenees, Massela, announced on 7th April that it would stay open to May 1st, but instead closed a week earlier. Ski areas like Europe’s most southerly, Sierra Nevada, often stay open into May as well, but this year decided not to. The ski centre appears to have closed earlier than it had to, to allow construction teams to move in and begin work on two major new lifts for next season. It appears that the last area open in the Iberian peninsula may in fact have been Portugal’s Serra da Estrella, which remained open after heavy late-season snowfall to the final days of April although didn’t manage to open for May 1st as it had hoped.
SPAIN / ANDORRA FORECAST The 21-22 ski season in the Pyrenees is now over.
BULGARIA / ROMANIA REPORT The last centres have closed for the season in Bulgaria and Romania. Serbia’s Kopaonik re-opened last weekend but that looks to be it now for 21-22. Kanin, in Slovenia (0/120cm / 0/48”), which has opened in May the past two years, after the lockdown ended in 2020, says it will reopen this weekend all being well.
BULGARIA / ROMANIA FORECAST The 21-22 ski season in Bulgaria and Romania is now over.
CZECH REPUBLIC / SLOVAKIA REPORT Although all major ski centres are now closed in the Czech Republic, three opened on the Slovak side to see in May including Štrbské Pleso and Jasna. These have now both closed for the season but at the time of writing, at least Tatranská Lomnica (0/150cm / 0/60″) says that it is planning to reopen for the next few weekends to mid-May if it can. The weather has been helping, staying close to freezing up at 2000m where the open terrain is, much warmer in the valleys of course.
CZECH REPUBLIC / SLOVAKIA FORECAST There’s actually the chance of snow flurries up high although getting ever warmer at lower elevations. Temperatures are in the range of -3C to +3C.
NORTH AMERICA INTRO May sees only the most dedicated ski areas staying open in western North America and we’ve now dropped below 20 of these, most in the west of the continent though a few hanging on in the east and midwest. Those still operating have been boosted by some cooler than average conditions and even fresh snow showers. They were skiing powder at Banff at the start of May and over in Hawaii access to the Mauna Kea summit road, the islands’ highest point, was blocked by snowfall. As it is, resorts are still open in three Canadian provinces and nine US states.
ROCKIES REPORT Several big-name resorts in the Rockies including Vail, which had earlier extended its season, closed on Sunday, May 1st, for the 21-22 season. This ended better than it began for most areas with some good April snowfalls compared to November and the start of December. So we are down to a handful of areas still open in the US Rockies. Arapahoe Basin (20/73″ / 50/183cm), one of the world’s highest-altitude ski areas and usually around the first to open each autumn and the last to close in Colorado in late spring or early summer, has not yet announced a closing date. But Loveland (20/61″ / 50/152cm) will call it a day on 21-22 this coming Sunday. Another high altitude area, Breckenridge (40/180cm), plans to stay open to the end of the month with a fourth Colorado area, Winter Park (16/76″ / 40/191cm), probably going to more like mid-May. The only other that is still open in the US Rockies is in Utah where the lifts are still turning at Snowbird (32/110″ / 80/276cm) and about half of the ski slopes are still open there too.
ROCKIES FORECAST Sunny over the next few days with temperatures hitting the mid-high 40seven up above 10,000 feet. Cooler with the chance of snow showers up high from the latter half of the weekend.
USA WEST REPORT More ski areas in the west have now closed as we’ve entered May and we’re now down to a hardcore few that are still operating. However, there are a few more than in any other region of North America.
Up in Alaska, Alyeska (26/190″ / 65/475cm), which posted the deepest base in North America (and outside Asia) for much of last season, remains open for the next few weekends. It recently went through the 800 inches (20 metres) snowfall-to-date mark, one of the biggest totals reported in recent years (the biggest ever recorded remains 1,140″ at Mt. Baker ski area in Washington State more than 20 years ago now in 1998/99). Currently, the only ski area open in Washington state is Crystal Mountain (73/102″ / 182/256cm), open Fridays to Sundays throughout May. In Oregon, the lifts are still turning and the ski slopes are almost fully open still at Mt. Bachelor (28/93″ / 69/234cm) and Timberline (166/196″ / 414/490cm), aiming to stay open to the start of September, still has a good snow depth. Although temperatures rose to start this week overall temperatures are below average and there have been more snow showers.
In California after the big snowfalls at the end of April, Palisades (12/112” / 30/281cm) remains open and after reporting eight feet (2.4m) of April snowfall now says it plans to stay open to the end of the month. It still has about half of its terrain skiable. Mammoth (32/75″ / 84/188cm), which is often the last area open in North America other than the permanent snowfield at Timberline, is also still going strong with about a third of the slopes open there too. The weather has been warmer and sunnier again in recent days.
USA WEST FORECAST Largely sunny and getting quite warm in the south of the region around California, although current models show a temperature dip by the weekend. But getting into the 50s in valleys, 40s in the afternoon up high there. Cooler further north with temperatures staying close to freezing at altitude in the Pacific Northwest and the chance of more snow showers.
MIDWEST REPORT Is the Midwest’s season over or will it continue into May. Lutsen Mountains (36/48” / 90/120cm), in Minnesota, reported a 7″ (17cm) snowfall and posted “skiing until July?” on its social media. It has been reopening at weekends but it is not yet clear if that will continue into May. Mt Bohemia (60/60” / 150/150cm), in Michigan, posted two inches (5cm) of fresh snow last week and is also opening weekends for now.
MIDWEST FORECAST Cloud should clear to sunnier and warmer conditions next week with afternoon highs in the low 50s, so that could spell the end of the season, or overnight lows near freezing could maintain the snowpack enough for centres to stay open longer if they wish.
USA EAST REPORT Several ski areas including Belleayre and Whiteface in New York, Sugarloaf in Maine and Jay Peak in Vermont stayed open or reopened for a final weekend. Jay Peak has said it may re-open for another weekend yet. But it’s Killington (16/24″ / 40/61cm) that is, as usual, the sole eastern ski area planning to keep open through May, for as long as it can. That said, what’s open still is increasingly limited and focused on the resort’s Superstar trail, which it has been piling snow on to through the winter to keep it going as long as possible through spring. There was certainly a boost in late April with unusually cold and sometimes snowy weather right through to the end of the month.
USA EAST FORECAST More mixed weather as we move further into May. Precipitation midweek will be mostly trained as it’ll be too warm for snow, even high up. Sunnier to end the week but 5-15 degrees above freezing will keep the thaw in play.
CANADA WEST REPORT Four ski areas are still open in western Canada after Marmot Basin, near Jasper, ended its season at the weekend. Sunshine (40/224cm / 16/90cm) near Banff and Whistler Blackcomb (0/217cm / 0/87″) usually stay open to late May and 2022 is no exception. Lake Louise (168/250cm / 67/100”) is also open the first week of May usually and it is in 2022, with its final weekend coming up. They’re joined by Vancouver’s local ski area of Grouse Mountain (308/428cm / 123/171”), which says it will stay open to at least mid-May (it’s had some of the heaviest snowfall in the world this season). The four areas have enjoyed mostly dry weather over the past week, a mix of sunny and cloudy days, overnight lows sometimes below freezing but some nights not and temperatures climbing to +5 in the mountains, +10 at lower elevations. There was some fresh snowfall and powder skiing reported at the weekend though for Sunshine, Lake Louise and Marmot Basin.
CANADA WEST FORECAST Mostly dry for the rest of this week with plenty of sunshine and temperatures climbing ever higher. We could see +20C in mountain towns and +10C even up high by Friday. But temp dips and snow showers are a possibility by the weekend too.
CANADA EAST REPORT The 21-22 season appears to be over in eastern Canada. Sommet Saint-Sauveur (30/40cm / 12/16”) was the last centre confirmed open there up to last Sunday. A terrain park has stayed open in the region later into spring in past seasons but it does not appear to be looking as promising this year with the limited winter snow cover in the region thawing fast. Temperatures of +10 to +20C are speeding that along.
CANADA EAST FORECAST A mostly sunny picture over the coming week with occasional rain showers. Overnight lows are just below freezing on high slopes, but mostly in the +10 to +20C range.
JAPAN REPORT Japan starts May with more ski areas open than any other country as the season traditionally lasts to early May here. But most will be closing over the next few days, including Niseko (10/327cm / 4/131”). It’s been mostly sunny and temperatures have been climbing to the mid-teens in the valley and getting as high as +10C at the top, leaving locals describing the surviving snow as “wet”. But then fresh snow showers are still being reported at times too with Nozawa Onsen reporting powder to be skied at the weekend. Either way, the snow depth is dropping at its usual 30-50cm (12-20”) a week at Japan’s sole summer ski area, Gassan (295/765cm / 118/304″), more than in the northern hemisphere’s other summer ski destinations. It relies on a very thick winter snow layer (the world’s greatest snow depth in fact) to keep it going through to July under the hot Japanese spring and summer sun. But so far operations are normal and most terrain open.
JAPAN FORECAST The coming week looks to be getting increasingly warm with lows still getting to freezing overnight in the mountains and still the chance of a short snow shower. But then getting to +20C in valleys and +10C up high. So thawing will continur to win the day.