Arapahoe Basin, Colorado, ready to open this weekend...
J2Ski Snow Report 18th October 2018
The northern hemisphere season is slowly getting under way... and if you're in the UK you can get your winter kick-started with the London Ski and Snowboard Festival (Ticket Competition here!)
October 18th Snow Headlines
- Wolf Creek opens in US after heavy snowfall.
- Kitzbuhel is first non-glacier resort in the Alps to open.
- Arapahoe Basin and Loveland, Colorado to open Friday/Saturday.
- Thin snow cover on Europe's glaciers - Les 2 Alpes cancels October opening.
- Cervinia due to open this weekend for 2018-19 ski season.
- Swiss ski areas Diavolezza and Engelberg due to open.
- Snowmaking underway in New England.
It's been a week of mixed fortunes in the ski world. More resorts have opened in the Alps, and there have been big snowfalls in North America leading to the season beginning there sooner than expected, but against that glacier areas are struggling to open, or stay open, with very little snow cover so far on the ice.
Kitzbuhel became the first non-glacier ski area to open in the Alps last weekend, taking the total of areas open in the alps to double figures; but many of the glaciers remain on thin ice – or rather thin snow on the ice – and there's disappointment from France with Les 2 Alpes announcing that it won't be running its glacier ski and board festival (planned for the end of this month) for the second year in a row because there's not enough snow.
The big news of the past week, however, was some big snowfall in the US which brought huge 72-hour totals – as much as a very un-seasonal 70cm – to resorts in Colorado and Utah whilst covering a much wider area; as far as North Dakota and Texas.
As a result Colorado's Wolf Creek opened at the weekend, one of the earliest US resort openings in years. It can also claim to be the first ski area without a glacier in the world to open 'this season' using fresh snowfall! Two more Colorado ski areas will open this weekend.
In the southern hemisphere we're down to the last four areas open for 2018 in the Andes and New Zealand with all looking set to close at the end of this coming weekend.
Snow in the Forecast for Battersea Park!
Next week sees the annual London Ski and Snowboard Festival... and we've got some tickets you can win! Just enter our Ski Show Ticket Competition.
In the Alpine Forecast
A distinct change is coming into the forecast for the last week of October, with cooling temperatures and snow now featuring repeatedly in the long-range model runs. More on that next week!
See where it's expected to snow this week...
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.
With eight ski areas open Austria has more ski resorts to choose from than almost the rest of the world combined. Two more resorts opened at the weekend – the Kitzsteinhorn glacier and Kitzbuhel, the latter the first in the Alps without a glacier to open – taking the total to eight. Despite some good snowfalls over the past few months snow depths in the country remain very marginal on the glaciers after a mostly warm summer and early autumn.
Hintertux reports the deepest at 65cm and the Molltal glacier which recently re-opened after three weeks closure whilst awaiting from snow 39cm but the other six areas have less than 30cm (a foot) of snow lying on top of the ice (or in Kitzbuhel's case, grass).
Tignes managed a partial opening of their glacier area yesterday, with a handful of lifts giving some skiing under blue skies.
Unfortunately, Les 2 Alpes has announced that for the second year running it won't be able to run its special end-of-October ski and board week on the glacier.
Two ski areas are currently open in Italy with Passo Stelvio – which has been open since May – looking much the better with a claimed 2 metre base, one of the best in the Alps. There's only a fortnight or so left of the season there though as it usually shuts down around the end of October as other areas start opening.
Cervinia is due to be next up, opening this coming weekend for the weekend only then permanently from the final weekend of October onwards. It's not yet clear if Cervinia's own glacier skiing will be open or if it will be providing access to the year-round Klein Matterhorn 'glacier paradise' above Zermatt as it did in the latter half of its summer opening.
The other Italian option, Val Senales, reports only a 10cm base. It was previously only open to race teams for training due to the limited cover but has recently managed to reopen an additional area for recreational skiers and boarders following "heroic efforts" by ski piste staff.
The two Swiss glacier areas that have been open since July (Saas Fee) or indeed haven't really closed except for bad weather for many years (Zermatt) remain the only two open at present in the country as Engelberg will open the Titlis glacier area this weekend.
Saas Fee has a 1.8m base and Zermatt reports 3 metres – the second deepest in the world at present behind Mt Ruapehu in New Zealand. Both have about 15km of terrain open so are in good shape compared to most of the other glaciers.
The Diavolezza glacier in the Engadin region, sometimes referred to as the third ski area at St Moritz, is also due to open this weekend so the number of open Swiss areas could double by this time next week!
There remains nowhere open in Eastern Europe so far.
Scottish hills have seen more fresh snowfalls in the past week but no areas are close to opening yet.
Ski areas in the Pyrenees are unlikely to open until the end of November or start of December.
Ruka, which opened on the first Saturday of the month in Finnish Lapland, remains the only ski area in Scandinavia currently open. The resort uses snow 'farmed' from last season and spread back out on the slopes to make about a 1km ski run.
There's nowhere open in Canada at present. The first areas expected to open are in the Calgary and Banff area of Alberta with Nakiska, Sunshine and Mt Norquay all scheduled to open within the first week or so of November.
There was excitement for snow fans in the US at the end of last week with the biggest early October snowfall in years bringing up to 70cm of snow to resorts in Colorado and Utah with the snow extending to a much wider area including some very unlikely destinations for snow any time of year, let alone early October, such as Texas.
Despite the big snowfalls, the usually early-opening of Arapahoe Basin and Loveland didn't open last weekend but a third Colorado area, Wolf Creek, did, reporting a 70cm base and about 70 trails open at the weekend served by three lifts. Wolf Creek says it will now close midweek but re-open at weekends through October.
It's not yet clear if any other US areas will join it this coming weekend but a further 15cm of snowfall was reported in Colorado on Sunday night bringing 7 day totals close to a metre. Arapahoe Basin and Loveland have now announced they're opening on Friday and Saturday this week.
On the east coast snow-making got underway on Monday night at Killington in Vermont which can open in October some years if conditions are cold enough.
Unless one of the two remaining ski areas still open decides to extend the season further it looks like this is the final week of 'winter' 2018 (although now half way through spring) in New Zealand.
Mt Ruapehu on the North Island still has the deepest snow base in the world at 3.4m and got 5cm of fresh snow at the weekend. Cardrona is also in to its final week and reports a 1.5m base.
All of Australia's ski areas are believed to be closed but Nevados de Chillan in Chile and Catedral in Argentina are still reported open in South America. Although the former only at weekends, and it reports the next will be its last of the winter.
Although it hasn't been the greatest winter for snow accumulation Catedral is still getting fresh snowfall with a sizeable fall in the past few days.
Until next week... thanks for reading!