The Gemstock, Andermatt, Switzerland - open weekends until the 19th May
Welcome to our guide to where to ski this May!
This Week's Snow Headlines - 1st May
- Around 50 ski areas still open for skiing and boarding in to May.
- Colorado's Breckenridge staying open through May for first time in two decades.
- Snow lying up to 7 metres deep in the Alps at the start of May.
- Three US areas planning to stay open to July.
- Up to 70cm of snowfall above 2000m in the last week of April in the Alps.
- Summer-ski only areas open in Japan and Norway, with Italy and US following this month.
- Arizona Snowbowl and California's Donner ski area both staying open in to May so long as conditions allow.
May is a low point in the skiing calendar for the numbers of ski areas open. Most resorts in the northern hemisphere have closed for the season, and the majority of the remaining 50 or so will close after the first Sunday of the month (this year the 5th). It is too early for the southern hemisphere ski areas to begin their season (from June), and around ten summer glacier ski areas have yet to open.
So we start May with about 50 ski areas open until Monday May 6th, whereafter around 20 will soldier on through the month.
Significant snow has fallen in the Alps in the last week, and more is forecast to further improve conditions at still-open resorts.
As to snow conditions? Well the rule for May is to expect anything. You'd think we'd be moving fully to 'summer skiing' with decent snow in the morning thawing to slush by lunchtime but the last week of April saw more winterlike conditions in the Alps (and Pyrenees) with fresh snow falling and temperatures sub-zero all day.
The Monterosa region reported 60cm of fresh snowfall on the last Wednesday of April and the Zugspitze 70cm in the last few days of the month. Austria's Stubai and Hintertux glaciers got 50cm of snow for the final weekend of the month too and there were smaller (5-20cm) falls at most other still-open areas, so with more in the forecast up high winter may still have a few last attempts to hang on in to May.
Cortina d'Ampezzo, Ischgl, Kitzbuhel, Livigno, Oberstdorf, Sunday River and the Zugspitze plan to hang on to May 1st only and close on the day having made it to May. Another 23 areas (at the last count) plan to close on May 5th.
This time last year we were excited about how much snow was still lying in the Western Alps with Val d'Isere planning an unprecedented re-opening of its non-glacier slopes. It has not been such an epic year in the West this winter although a decent one. The east has seen the bigger snowfalls and it's here that glacier cover is in the 4-7 metres bracket - hopefully enough to withstand the summer heat through to next Autumn.
In the Alpine Forecast
There is significant snow forecast for some areas, to fall as low as 1500 metres, over the next few days; so those alpine ski areas still open are likely to offer some fabulous end-of-season conditions!
Most resorts are now closed, so please check openings before making any last-minute travel plans!
More snowfall expected, but please note that some ski areas have now closed for the season.
Re-publication :- our Snow Report Summary, being the text above this line, 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.
It's looking like a promising spring-summer ski season ahead in the Alps with the snow lying 4-7 metres deep on the continent's skiable glaciers and fresh snow falling in the final days of April.
Austria has more glacier ski areas than any other country with eight to choose from, but other than the Hintertux, which tries to open every day of the year, their operating dates vary through the spring, summer and autumn.
Besides the Hintertux glacier, the Stubai and Kitzsteinhorn glaciers remain open throughout May. However the glaciers at Solden are closed and the Pitztal will end its eight-month season on May 5th. The Kaunertal and Molltal glaciers will stay open a further week to the 12th May.
Most of these areas reported heavy snowfall over the final weekend of April, in the Stubai's case taking its base up to its deepest so far this year – 6m/20 feet – it's open to June 10th.
Finally, the status of snowsports at the Daschstein glacier is difficult to ascertain as officially its open year round but often it is closed and some sources says the season ended there or May 1st.
In the French Alps only two ski areas are scheduled to be open after May 1st – Tignes and Val Thorens, both to Sunday the 5th. After that there'll be nowhere open in France until summer skiing at Val d'Isere, les 2 Alpes and Tignes re-commences from June.
Italy's Cervinia and Val Senales glacier ski areas are also scheduled to close at the end of the ski day on the 5th. Some 'freeriding only' terrain is also open in the Monterosa region until the 5th too. However there will be some snowsports to May 19th on the Presena Glacier near Passo Tonale if all goes to plan then less than a week after it closes the Passo Stelvio summer ski area is due to open on the 25th.
Switzerland was posting the world's deepest snow at 6.9 metres a year ago and this year it's an even more impressive 7.8 metres at Engelberg (the number actually grew in the last week of April as more snow fell), which remains open with snowsports on the Titlis Glacier until the final weekend of May.
Zermatt is of course open for skiing and boarding on its Klein Matterhorn slopes year-round. Andermatt, which has had some of the deepest snow all season, will open its Gemsstock slopes for the first three weekends of May (Friday through Sunday).
The other choices up to the first weekend of the month include the Diavolezza glacier slopes near St Moritz and Glacier 3000 near Gstaad, both close at the end of the day on the 5th. Murren is also open the first weekend of May but for Telemark skiers only.
One other Swiss snow event to note is the weekend of May 18/19 when Crans Montana re-opens its slopes for one weekend only to coincide with the start of the summer mountain biking season.
About 50 ski areas remain open in Scandinavia for the start of May but most will close at the end of the first weekend of the month (at the end of the ski day on the 5th).
However Norway's three glacier ski areas are just starting their 2019 season with the Folgefonn ("Fonna") glacier already open since April 13th and reporting the continent's deepest base at up to 8.5 metres. It is due to be joined by Galdhoppigen glacier area on May 9th (11 days earlier than last year) and finally the Stryn glacier on May 29th.
Also open throughout May is 'Europe's Spring skiing Capital' Riksgransen up in the Swedish Arctic Circle where skiing/boarding under the midnight sun is offered several times a week from mid-May. It tries to stay open to mid-summer / late June each season but last year closed in late May due to a lack of snow; so far this year it is looking more promising with a 270cm (9 foot) base up top, although has dropped nearly a metre in the past month.
Scottish skiing hasn't made it in to May this year with Glencoe closing its ski slopes just before Easter rather than making it to the start of May as usual.
As usual around two dozen ski areas are open in North America for the start of May. More than half should make it to the end of the month but most will then close leaving only a handful to soldier on in to June. The last Monday in May is a public holiday in the US so a number of areas have made this long weekend their final one of the season.
New for 2019 (and, they say, the month of May in years to come too), Colorado's Breckenridge, one of the world's highest leading resorts, plans to be one of those making it to that end of May final weekend having previously closed in late April each year.
Also in Colorado, Loveland is open to the 5th and Winter Park says it will be open the first two May weekends to the 12th. Arapahoe Basin has named June 2nd as its target season end date. April ended snowy in the state with more than 40cm of snow at Loveland for the final weekend of the month and good falls elsewhere too. May looks like it will start with more of the same.
California's Alpine Meadows will stay open Friday-Sunday to the middle of the month, Heavenly for long weekends too through to the 27th.
Snowbird in Utah says it will continue a further week to May 12th whilst in Washington State Alpental and in Oregon Mt Hood Meadows say they will re-open for the first weekend of the month, whilst Mt Bachelor will stay open to the 26th. The Timberline snowfield will also be open through to the summer. It currently has a 3.5 metre (nearly 12 foot) base.
On the East Coast Jay Peak, Sugarbush and Sugarloaf all plan to stay open to May 5th and Killington hopes to stay open throughout May if conditions allow.
Finally, the summer-ski-only area of Beartooth Basin (formerly: The Red Lodge International Ski and Snowboard Camp) on the Montana/Wyoming border is expected to open for its 2019 summer season at the end of May although a date has not yet been set. It relies a little on when the road up to it is cleared of snow.
In terms of ski areas open beyond May, California's Mammoth and Squaw Valley have both announced they'll stay open in to July. Timberline in Oregon is open year-round and saw some big April snowfalls so has a good base for the warmer months ahead.
In Canada, Whistler has announced plans to stay open to the last Monday of the month - the 27th - a week later than usual and putting it a clear week later than Sunshine at Banff which will close as usual with its famous Slush Cup competition on the 20th (the two often end Canada's ski season on or around the same day).
Otherwise Lake Louise and Marmot Basin are open to the first weekend in May and others may be too, if conditions permit, including Mont Sutton in Quebec.
Although some Japanese ski areas including Niseko stay open to the first week of May, the resort to head to is now Gassan which opened for its unusual season in Mid-April and aims to stay open to mid-July. It gets too much snow to open in winter but the access road is cleared in early spring. It's currently claiming the world's deepest snow depth at 9.5 metres, down 50cm from mid-April.
There have been fresh snowfalls reported in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South America at times over the past few months and one ski area in New Zealand managed to open for a morning in March after an un-seasonal 50cm snowfall there but the 2019 southern hemisphere ski season won't officially kick off until the start of June, although in past years some resorts have gone early if there's been a big dump in May. That remains to be seen.
Until next month...