Cardrona, New Zealand, looking good yesterday...
J2Ski's Where To Ski or Snowboard In August 2018
It's just about peak season in the southern hemisphere, with fresh snow in Australia and New Zealand.
August's Snow Headlines
- Southern hemisphere 2018 ski season in full swing with all areas now open.
- Zermatt glacier in Switzerland reports deepest snow base in world (of an open area).
- New Zealand reports biggest snowfalls and deepest bases in southern hemisphere.
- Up to 50cm of snow forecast for Australian resorts.
- Fewer than a dozen ski areas open in August in the northern Hemisphere.
- Second of three Norwegian summer ski glaciers ends season early due to hot weather.
Winter 2018 is now in full swing in the southern hemisphere with Temple Basin in New Zealand probably the last area to open south of the equator this year as recently as July 24th.
Most of the 100 or so areas south of the equator have fairly good snow cover with New Zealand seeing the most snowfall in July, but there have been some fresh snowfalls in the Andes and Australia too.
Snow depths are not really spectacular as yet, with most at or below the metre mark and the deepest around 1.8 metres, but the majority now have all or most of their runs open and lifts operating.
In the northern hemisphere there's just around 100km of lift served terrain open in total at nine areas in six countries. It's been hot of course but, as we enter August, the glacier ski areas which were forced to close a year ago due to the heat melting snow cover from the glacial ice are still reporting healthy snow depths, so hopefully they'll see it through this summer. The combination of greater snowfall last winter and not-quite-so-hot temperatures up high so far should help.
Unfortunately that's not the case up in Scandinavia where it's unusually hot and two of the three glacier areas in Norway have been forced to shut early.
Almost everywhere is now closed in North America after Whistler ended its short summer skiing season last month. Unusually though July did see some snow storms on the continent with Big White in BC, Canada among those reporting a summer snow covering, although the ski runs didn't re-open.
In the Alpine Forecast
Remaining warm in The Alps, albeit with the possibility of (very) high altitude snow at times.
Only a few resorts are open, so check local conditions and opening times directly before travelling!
Snow in the forecast for next week...
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Australia is continuing to enjoy one of its best starts to the ski season in years with healthy snow depths as we enter August at most areas and pretty much everything open. There were not any really big snowfalls in July as there were in May and June but there were some moderate top ups and bases kept building. The month has ended with 10-20cm accumulations though which may build to totals of as much as 50cm by the first weekend of August. So much so that most of the country's leading areas now have more than 1m bases (A healthy depth base mark in Australia) with Thredbo and Perisher at more than 1.2m and Perisher reporting more than 100 runs open.
Ski areas in New Zealand have seen an often-snowy July and are now reporting the deepest snow depths in the southern hemisphere, with most of the country's ski areas now past the 1m mark and Turoa and Temple Basin approaching the 2m mark. It has been snowy for much of the month with Cardrona reporting 50cm of fresh snow over the last week of July. Most of the country's ski areas now have all lifts operating and most runs open.
Argentina's season is also in full swing with the resort of Caviahue boasting the deepest snow in south America at present with a 1.7m base. Snowfall has been varied across the country through July but the South American continent's biggest ski area, Catedral, did see one of the biggest snowfalls of the past month with a 40cm accumulation on 22nd July. However it still has one of the thinnest bases this season so far in South America at 70cm. Again most of the country's ski lifts are currently operating and most runs open.
It has been a mixed month for snowfall in Chile with some resorts including Portillo and Valle Nevado reporting big snowfalls at times, but so far snow cover can hardly be described as 'epic'. Most areas, including Portillo, are only on around 50cm bases with Valle Nevado the deepest at a metre. Despite this temperatures have been generally low and most lifts are turning and almost all the country's groomed terrain open. Portillo recently opened their signature Lake run.
August marks the last month of the three-month ski season in southern Africa as Afriski in Lesotho and Tiffindell in South Africa give up on their efforts to battle nature with snowmaking – but both are open to the end of the month. It has been a good ski season so far with several decent natural snowfalls in June and July and low temps for snowmaking so both enter August with pretty much everything open.
Only two ski areas are currently open in Austria since the Kitzsteinhorn finished its 10 month ski season at the end of July. The Molltal Glacier, which has an even longer 11 month season and has already begun its 2018-19 run, and the year-round Hintertux ski area, are open. Snow depths are pretty good for August at 2.6m on the Molltal (second deepest in the world at present behind Zermatt) and 1.4m at Hintertux.
Val d'Isere closed after six weeks of summer skiing in June and July month leaving Tignes and Les 2 Alpes the two remaining French glacier ski options for August.
Even at 3000m, temperatures have been very warm but morning glacier skiing is continuing with Tignes posting a 130cm base, Les 2 Alpes 1.5m. The latter is open right through the month to September 1st but Tignes says summer skiing will end 4 weeks earlier than usual, this first Sunday of the month (Aug 5th), perhaps due to renovations of the Grande Motte cable car.
Italy's only open ski area at present is Passo Stelvio which has 12km of runs open. This time last year the centre was forced to close as all the snow had melted off the glacier but despite the warmth, it still has a reported 50-200cm base. Some fresh snow was reported falling high in the Dolomites in the last week of July in between the hot weather spells.
Saas Fee joined year-round Zermatt last month, doubling the choice of ski areas open in Switzerland. At Saas Fee snow depth is 2 metres with 20km of runs open between 7am and noon, plus the area's summer terrain park. Zermatt reports 12km of runs skiable, served by 14 lifts and a 3m snow depth.
Galdhoppigen ski area, one of Norway's three summer ski areas, closed on July 22nd due to the snow cover largely melting away in Scandinavia's exceptionally warm summer. It had been due to stay open to November. It joins a second of the three, the Stryn glacier, which only managed to open for a few weeks in May-June for the same reason. The third area, Fonna, is still open though and reports a 2 metre base. Galdhoppigen says it may re-open in early autumn if things cool down as it has stockpiled a large amount of snow under cover ready to spread out on the slope when temperatures stay lower.
With Beartooth Basin in Montana and Whistler Blackcomb both ending their summer skiing in the first half of last month, we're down to two summer ski options in the US, with nothing currently open in Canada.
The Palmer snowfield above Timberline Lodge on Mt Hood in Oregon should however stay open in to August. They report afternoon temps in the high double figures Celcius but say all runs and parks are open and operating 7 days a week.
Elsewhere at Copper Mountain in Colorado the Woodward at Copper on-snow camp is currently underway at Pipeline Park, a lift-served terrain park which the resort is able to keep maintained throughout the summer.