Issued: 26th October 2022

By Patrick “Snowhunter” Thorne



World Overview

The 22-23 season continues to gather pace in the Northern Hemisphere with some the biggest snowfalls of autumn/fall so far in the Alps and North America, after a rather dry October. More ski areas have been opening on each side of the Atlantic too, with Sweden the latest country to see its first areas open. In the Southern Hemisphere though, the last areas that had been open, have now closed.

After North America’s season started at two small Minnesota ski areas as we were preparing to publish last week, a third Trollhagen in Wisconsin, joined them on Wednesday. The season is also underway in Colorado as one of the highest ski centres in the world begins its long 22-23 season, a second opening to offer race training for ski athletes. But perhaps the most exciting news from Canada and the US this week was a good snowfall across the west, with some (yet to open) areas reporting up to 25” (62cm) accumulated at the start of this week.

Idre Fjall resort this week

In Europe, Sweden was the latest country to see its ski areas open. Two centres, Kåbdalis and Idre Fjäll started their ski seasons on Saturday thanks to using snow farming (recycling last season’s snow into fresh runs down the slopes) to open for winter 22-23.

Elsewhere in the world, there was snowfall reported near Gulmarg in the Indian Himalayas, enough to block roads. And in Japan, the first ski run opened at a small area at the foot of Mt Fuji, but it used all-weather snow-making to open.  

In the Southern Hemisphere, the 2022 season drew to a close on Sunday with Mt Hutt, on New Zealand’s South Island and Whakapapa, on Mt Ruapehu on the North Island (the last two areas that had been open), closing the runs for the last time this season. Mt Hutt is aiming to keep its terrain park open into November, the last week of spring and still reports snow at the top of the slope lying a metre (40”) deep.

Europe

Zermatt resort this week

There was the first significant fresh snowfall of October for many ski areas in the Alps at the weekend with up to 15cm (6″) reported on glaciers. Unfortunately, the news wasn’t quite as good as it sounds as most areas saw rain mixed in with the snowfall, or preceding it, which led to the cancellation of the opening World Cup ski race of the season at Solden on Saturday, the women’s GS. It also wasn’t enough to change fortunes for Zermatt where the planned first-ever cross border World cup Downhill races have had to be cancelled due to weather conditions. The only new resorts to open for the season this week were in Sweden, where the 22-23 season got underway at two resorts, but more Austrian, Italian and Swiss centres plan to open this coming weekend and we should start November with around 20 areas already open for the season in Europe.

AUSTRIA REPORT
Austria saw fresh snowfall on its glaciers on Friday night and Saturday. But, unfortunately, there was also some rain as the front moved in following a warm week last week. The overall picture was good though with the snowfall winning in the end.  There was another front bringing more snow on Monday/Tuesday after a sunny Sunday.  Hintertux (0/70cm / 0/28”) has the most terrain open in the world at present with 32km (20 miles) of runs. Solden (0/90/ 032″) was due to host the World Cup opener for ski racing on Saturday but was forced to postpone due to unspecified “bad weather”, which turned out to be the rain, snow and low visibility. This is typically ironic after the first three weeks of October had been almost constantly clear and sunny every day. However, the Sunday race for the men did go ahead. The Kaunertal (30/50cm / 12/20”) was one of the big beneficiaries of the fresh snowfall, it has 10km of slopes open so far.  The Pitztal, Stubai and Kitzsteinhorn glaciers are also still open but with limited terrain open so far and thin cover. The Molltal glacier had been expected to open this coming weekend and may still do so although a planned opening festival has been postponed until late November.  The Dachstein glacier is also open but only for cross-country skiing or ski touring.

kaunertal resort this week

AUSTRIA FORECAST
Slightly warmer and rather drier at the resorts this week after the snowfall on Saturday and again at the start of this week in the high Austrian Alps. Temperatures still getting down to freezing overnight up high but climbing to +5C, even at 3000m, in the afternoons.

SWITZERLAND REPORT
With planned World Cup alpine ski races in Solden postponed and snowboardcross in Les 2 Alpes cancelled, it was a Big Air contest in Chur, Switzerland that got the world’s 22-23 World Cup season started. The news was less good for the planned new season-opening Downhill World Cup cross-border speed ski race from Zermatt (0/110cm / 0/44″) to Cervinia, which had been due to take place next weekend. It was announced on Saturday that it had been cancelled due to warm temperatures and rain on the glacier. Although, subsequently, Zermatt posted pictures appearing to show the course in perfect condition and saying there was “good news”. Sadly, it was announced the womens races on the first weekend of November have also now been cancelled  but the glacier is open to recreational skiers with 13km ((8 miles) of slopes open. Saas Fee (0/140cm / 0/56”) is also open with the most the deepest reported snow in the Alps, as is Engelberg’s Titlis Glacier (0/40cm / 0/16″).  After the weekend snowfall and a sunny start to the week, there was more snowfall on Monday/Tuesday up high. More Swiss ski areas are expected to open next weekend including Adelboden, Andermatt and the Diavolezza glacier near St Moritz. If all three do open Switzerland will end October with the second most ski areas open in the world.

SWITZERLAND FORECAST
Unfortunately, temperatures look set to warm again, even at high altitudes, in the latter half of this week and more sunny, dry conditions. So we still await the start of full winter as we move towards November.

FRANCE REPORT
There’s unfortunately still nowhere open in France unless you include the indoor snow slope at Amneville. Les 2 Alpes and Tignes, which had both hoped to be open for their 22-23 season starts by now. They have been postponed due to inadequate snowfall so far and warm weather last week didn’t improve things. However, there was snowfall reported on higher slopes at the weekend which did, if not yet enough to get really excited.

FRANCE FORECAST
After the snowy start to the week in the higher French Alps, the rest of this week is looking mostly dry and sunny. Temperatures at altitude sub-zero overnight but climbing to 5-10 degrees above freezing at 2,000m during the afternoons.

ITALY REPORT
Cervinia has seen two days of rain on the bottom half of the cross-border racecourse from Switzerland that had been due to debut at the weekend. For regular skiers and boarders though it still provides a lift up to the glacier at Zermatt. There was snowfall at higher altitudes here and on other Italian glaciers to start the week. Val Senales (0/30cm / 0/12”) remains open and continues to see many of the world’s leading ski teams training there with Sofia Goggia among the latest to be pictured there. There is about 8km (5 miles) of slopes open despite the thing cover. Passo Stelvio (5/20cm / 2/8”) also remains open, probably for the final week or so of its summer ski season, which normally ends at the start of November each year. Several Italian resorts are lining up to open for the final weekend of the month. Although it is not yet clear if they’ll be able to. Cortina d’Ampezzo, in the Dolomites, said earlier this month that they’d open if conditions were right and the Presena Glacier, above Ponte di Legno, may also open.

ITALY FORECAST
The rest of this week looks to be a return to dry and sunny weather with temperatures still higher than ideal, around -2C overnight but getting up to +6C in the daytime even 3000m up in the mountains.

SCANDINAVIA REPORT
The number of ski areas open in Scandinavia has risen to five and the number of countries to three, with Sweden joining the party after Kåbdalis (50/100cm / 20/40”) and Idre Fjäll (30/60 / 12/24”) started their seasons, the first to open in the country, from Saturday. Both had a kilometre or so of snow brought out from being under cover through the summer, having been stockpiled last winter to build their runs. But it was also cold enough for snow-making systems to fire up and produce fresh snow on top.  They joined Finland’s Levi (10/30cm / 4/12”) and Ruka (10/30cm / 4/12”) ski areas, which opened using the same snow farming techniques at the start of the month and Norway’s Galdhopiggen glacier (10/50cm / 4/20″), Scandinavia’s highest slopes, which were open to the public last spring and early summer and again since mid-September, but are now nearing the end of their 2022 summer ski season. As to the weather in Scandinavia, there’s been a mixture of sunny and snowy days in the north, with temperatures in Lapland now mostly sub-zero day and night, temperatures ranging from -6 to +2 Celcius. A little warmer but feeling ever more wintery further south.

Levi resort this week

SCANDINAVIA FORECAST
There’s more snowfall in the forecast in the north and on higher slopes in Scandinavia through the coming week, temperatures should continue to be on the low side, hardly getting above freezing in the north of the region.

USA / Canada

Sun Peaks resort this week

NORTH AMERICA INTRO

There have been big steps towards the start of the 2022-23 season start in North America with Canada’s ski slopes moving to full pre-winter more with sub-zero temperatures and snowfall on upper mountain slopes from east to west. But it’s in the US that there’s the big news that the season is actually underway with the first ski centres in the Midwest opening in the middle of last week and then the first in the Rockies too at the weekend.

The snowfall that was underway in the upper peninsular around Michigan in the Midwest generated some very snowy scenes there and skiers hiked up slopes to ski the runs in several areas, but there were no reports of any turning the lifts on. Instead, it was centres in nearly Minnesota and Wisconsin that took advantage of low temperatures to make snow and open up small snow areas.

But the biggest snowfall news were the big accumulations. Some resorts reporting more than two feet (60cm) between Saturday evening and Monday morning in states like Utah, Wyoming and Montana.

USA REPORT
America’s season is underway in the Rockies and the Midwest with at least three smaller areas opening in Minnesota and Wisconsin in the middle of last week and Arapahoe Basin (0/30cm / 0/12”) first to open in Colorado on Sunday.  It had been the usual battle to open first in the state with neighbours like Keystone and Loveland also busy snow-making, but both said they needed a little longer before they had enough snow to open, ideally still before the end of this month. The lifts started turning at A-Basin at 8:30 am with initially just the Black Mountain Express operating serving one run, High Noon.  

Loveland resort this week
Arapahoe Basin resort this week

But arguably more exciting than resorts opening was the fresh snowfall that was particularly heavy in the Northwest but extended down to ski slopes in Colorado and across to California. However, Alta in Utah and Big sky in Montana reported the biggest accumulations, 35” (63cm) each. There were also some strong winds reported at times across the Western US.

In the Midwest, Wild Mountain (10/20″ / 25/50cm) eventually claimed the first to open in the US and indeed North America (assuming we don’t include the indoor centre at Big Snow in New Jersey), by turning on its lifts an hour before another centre, Andes Tower Hills (10/20″ / 25/50cm), had announced its season was going to begin. Wild Mountain had been the first in North America to open two years ago too, in October 2020, with this year’s date equalling its second earliest opening. Nearby Trollhauden (10/20” / 25/50cm), in Wisconsin, opened the next day. However, by the end of the weekend, warmer weather led to centres in the Midwest closing again as the machine-made snow melted until they can re-open with fresh snow once temperatures drop again.

USA FORECAST
The cold and cloudy weather in the west is expected to continue through the remainder of this week with temperatures well below freezing and more snow showers expected. These will be mostly light to moderate, probably heaviest on Thursday in the Rockies. Skies clearing for the weekend but staying cold at altitude.

CANADA  REPORT
 A wintery feel at last to the weather in Western Canada with ski areas in the interior of Alberta and BC excitedly posting pictures and videos of a decent snow accumulation at the weekend with some areas in Alberta and the BC interior reporting more than 30cm (a foot) of snow.  Temperatures remained sub-zero day and night into the start of this week as well. It’s officially only a fortnight until Lake Louise and some other Albertan resorts are aiming to kick off the country’s 22-23 season, all being well. The weather has also got a lot colder in Quebec and the east of Canada with Mont Tremblant excitedly posting images of their first snow cover last weekend.

Tremblant resort this week

CANADA FORECAST
It’s set to stay cold but mostly dry for the coming week in Canada. Temperatures in the western ski fields, where the slopes are, tentatively expected to start opening from the weekend after next. It should stay close to freezing and mostly subzero.