1st August, 2014
Re-publication :- our Snow Report Summary, being the text up to "The Alps", is free to re-publish, but must be clearly credited to www.J2ski.com with text including "J2Ski Snow Report" linked to this page - thank you.
Snow Report Summary
The Southern Hemisphere's ski season is in full swing, as we enter the busiest month of the year for many of the 100 or so areas south of the equator.
Australian snowfall has been less spectacular in most areas in recent weeks, after a good start to the season. There have been moderate falls in New Zealand and South America in the past week, however, and base depths have passed the 2m mark at some resorts.
In the Northern Hemisphere, glacier areas keep opening and closing although - overall - there are now fewer places to ski than there were a month ago. Five countries in Europe are open for glacier skiing although the number of individual areas is back in single figures. Only one centre remains open in all of North America.
August is the annual low point, with just two ski areas open now. The year round Hintertux glacier is in good shape, albeit with what their snow report honestly describes as "old snow" – but that's lying 2.8m deep at the top of the summer skiing area and 80cm deep at 2660m, nearly 600 vertical metres below. There are 18km of runs open. Also open is the Dachstein glacier (1.3m base).
Tignes is reported to be ending its summer skiing a month earlier than it did a few years ago, on this Sunday August 3rd. With Val d'Isere already closed and Alpe d'Huez, which had initially reported plans to open through July and August apparently deciding against, only Les 2 Alpes will be open from Monday onwards. It will stay open to 30th August this year. It is reported to have a 2m base with the last snow, 5cm, on July 20th, although some people reported skiing in the rain there since then!
With the re-opening of Cervinia's skiing on Plateau Rosa we're back up to a choice of two Italian resorts to choose from - the other at Passo Stelvio which reports a 1 – 2.5m base as we enter August.
Cervinia's slopes are open until early September and offer cross border summer skiing in to Zermatt, Switzerland – a unique offer at this time of year. Fresh snow last month made it 'mid-winter powder in July' for those lucky enough to get to the powder.
Since Saas Fee re-opened last month (and will stay open to spring 2015), Switzerland's now back to a choice of two summer ski and board destinations, and near neighbours at that.
Zermatt continues its year-round operations, whilst Saas Fee has made its new look terrain park the focus of summer operations. Both resorts have good snow cover on their glacier slopes.
The lift-assisted ski season in Norway looks to be nearing its end, with the Galdhoppigen and Stryn glaciers now closed. Only Folgefonn, with a 3-4m base, is still open as August begins, but it too expects to finish its season by the middle of the month.
With the Blackcomb glacier at Whistler ending its 2014 summer ski and board season last weekend, there's nowhere currently open in Canada, until resorts in Alberta and BC re-open in early November (or possibly late October if the signs are good), unless you want to hike up.
As the Red Lodge summer camp in Wyoming has also ended its season, the only option open in North America is Timberline in Oregon during August 2014. The snow there is around 2.5m deep and the terrain park open from 7am to 2pm daily.
August is traditionally the last month of their short ski seasons for Afriski in Lesotho and Tiffindell in South Africa. The latter reports it has clocked up nearly 200 hours of snowmaking this season and has a 700m long main run now, nearly 90cm deep with machine made snow, but there's not been any natural snowfall this season. Indeed a recent plea was posted on the centre's snow report page, "The skiing and weather at Afriski remains great. A bit of natural snow would be great, do you know anyone that can arrange a proper cold front for us please ?"
It appears to be a fairly average season in Argentina as we enter August. There have been some significant snowfalls in recent days after very little snowfall through much of July leaving bases depths generally around the 60cm – 120cm mark, in other words perfectly adequate but not terribly impressive! Catedral has a 50cm base, Las Lenas 80cm with Caviahue reporting the deepest in the country at 1.5m.
Australian ski areas are having an awesome 2014 ski season with four major snowstorms in the last six weeks and regular top ups besides. As a result – and this is quite a rare claim to make – several Aussie ski areas have some of the deepest snow packs in the southern hemisphere right now, at 150-170cm for most areas. Hotham is on 1.5m, Thredbo and Perisher 1.7m – that's nearly six feet deep. Most centres have enjoyed a few more centimetres of fresh powder in the past few days making for a great start to August.
It's a mixed picture across Chile with the southern end of the country scoring by far the best with 2.4m (eight feet) of snow now lying at Nevados de Chillan – this is the greatest snow depoth reported anywhere in the southern hemisphere at present.
There have been some of the biggest snowfalls reported anywhere in the world in the last few days of July in Chile, but after a promising pre-season in early June depths are less impressive at 30cm (Valle Nevado) to 90cm (Portillo) in the north of the country closer to capital Santiago.
New Zealand's 2014 season remains distinctly non-vintage so far, although there have been promising signs and bigger snow flurries in the latter half of July. It's ironic that given the effort to attract Aussies, the key market, over each winter, the snow is currently deeper back in Oz. Three NZ areas do now have at least 1m bases though – Turoa, the Remarkables and Treble Cone. Elsewhere its more typically 30-60cm, although that's enough to open most runs at the commercial ski fields.
Indoor Snow and Dry Slopes
If you need a quick snow fix closer to home there are more than 50 year-round indoor snow centres and several hundred artificial surface 'dry slopes' operating in more than 50 countries around the world.
For the UK there are six indoor snow centres from Hemel Hempstead to Glasgow and around 60 dry slopes.