As of this weekend five ski areas are open in Austria - that's more than half of the northern hemisphere's total! Most are in the Tyrol where half of the world's currently open ski areas are located.
The Solden and Stubai glaciers have opened for 'winter' 2012-13 on the first weekend of the Autumn joining the already open Hintertux, Molltal and Pitztal glaciers. Snow depths range for 20 to 60cm with the most terrain open at Hintertux with 22km.
A sixth option, the Dachstein glacier has lifts running to access cross country trails but no downhill at present. However it, the Kitzsteinhorn glacier near Kaprun and the Kaunertal glaciers are all expected to open in the next few days - Taking the Austrian total up to eight.
This compares to nowhere open in North America or France - where the season begins in Mt Hood and Tignes respectively at the start of October, and a few areas open in Switzerland (Saas Fee and Zermatt) and Italy.
The 2012 season is winding down in the southern hemisphere.
Some major new lifts are opening on the Stubai and Pitztal glaciers in the Austrian Tyrol.
At Pitztal the new Wildspitze gondola with eight-seater cabins will replace Austria's highest ski lift, the Pitz Panorama gondola from next month. The gondola, which will feature heated seats, will take skiers and boarders more than 2km in under six minutes and up to an altitude of 3340m to the Hinterer Brunnenkogel. At the top station will be Austria's highest cafe, with breathtaking views of the Wildspitze at 3774m, Austria's second highest mountain and more than 50 surrounding mountains over 3000m.
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