A beacon of hope? Verbier will open for weekends in November...
First US and Canadian resorts open, France and Italy enter mini-lockdown, snow all over...
The mountains are waiting for us... please stay safe and respect local advice on travel. We can't all go skiing just yet but we can still dream!
The Snow Headlines - 29th October
- Ski season underway in Canada and USA.
- Mt Norquay and Lake Louise in Canada historic early openings.
- Wolf Creek starts Colorado's ski season after Two Feet (60cm) of Snowfall.
- Banff, Davos and Kitzbuhel open for the season.
- Up to 80cm of Fresh Snowfall in 48 Hours Reported in the Alps.
- Verbier to open for weekends through November.
- Italy closes ski resorts (to recreational skiers) until 24th November.
- France's ski areas to close until at least 1st December.
- Passo Stelvio ends 2020 ski season.
- Andermatt opening this weekend.
- 2020 season over earlier than hoped in the southern hemisphere.
Please see our note on the 1-month lockdowns announced for France, Germany and Italy.
Winter 20-21 continues to pick up pace with the ski season getting underway in both Canada and the US in the past week as well as some big-name resorts in the Alps - Davos and Kitzbuhel - getting their seasons started.
Around 30 areas were open in 10 countries last weekend with Canada seeing it's season start at Mt Norquay near Banff, the centre's earliest opening in its 95-year history. The US got their season underway at little-known Wild Mountain in Minnesota in the Midwest.
They've since been joined by slightly bigger and better-known Wolf Creek in Colorado after the Rockies got two feet of snow to start the week.
As well as more areas opening there has been lots more snow - with up to 60cm (two feet) reported in the Rockies, 80cm in the Alps and snowfall reported in almost every other ski region of the northern hemisphere; East and West coasts of North America, The Pyrenees, The Dolomites, the Tatras and Scandinavia...
From 10 countries last weekend we are back down to 8 as France closes temporarily and the southern hemisphere's last survivor from a very problematic 2020 ski season, New Zealand, closed its final still-open area due to warm weather.
With the pandemic on the rise in Europe, there was unwelcome news of fresk lockdowns this week. This doesn't really affect many ski areas, as most hadn't planned to open until the end of next month or December, but it's obviously a knock to confidence and it's not guaranteed things will be able to resume next month. But that's the objective!
Cervinia closed again after two days but two other Italian areas, Sulden and Val Senales appear to have remained open so far. According to some reports sent into J2Ski - and local media reports they have the option to do so if regional authorities allow.
In the Alpine Forecast
A milder week ahead, for much of the Alps, before temperatures dip again and more snow arrives next week.
More snow expected for Canada...
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.
We are still at nine ski areas open in Austria but it's a slightly different nine! Hochkar, which had opened early a fortnight ago after some sizeable snowfalls is now closed again, whilst Kitzbuhel, thanks to snow-farming, has opened - initially at weekends only.
As mentioned above there have been more big snowfalls so perhaps Hochkar will be re-opening. Otherwise, it's the country's eight glacier areas which continue to post great conditions after all the fresh snow. Following a sunny weekend, the start-of-week snow totals were 50cm at Solden, 75cm at Hintertux and 80cm at the Stubai.
Most are opening more terrain each week, Hintertux now having more than 40km of runs open – the most in the world for a single ski area.
Conditions remain pretty good for October, even if no ski areas will now be open during November. Most of the country's resorts, including those down in the Pyrenees, posted some good snowfalls to start the week, many seeing snow down to resort level.
The ski season that was just getting started in Italy has come to an abrupt end for most of the country's ski areas – for four weeks at least – with the Italian government closing down ski areas and many other parts of Italian life where mass gatherings are possible.
The closure came just after one of the country's leading resorts, Cervinia, had opened for winter, reporting great conditions with blue skies and fresh snow. There was some controversy on Saturday as some social media pics appeared to indicate social distancing wasn't happening, but the centre hit back saying staff worked hard to ensure it did. In the event though, they had to close again after the weekend.
Some reports say they are looking at ways to re-open sooner than the 24th November national target date, but these are unconfirmed. However, the latest before we completed this report was a plan to re-open for race teams, not recreational skiers, from Thursday 29th October.
Two other resorts were open, apparently to all – Val Senales and Trentino's Sulden, and they seem to be staying open so far. Their move is believed to be due to local government decisions trumping national directives where they are located.
Passo Stelvio, which has a spring-autumn season and had been due to end its season this weekend anyway so doing so a week early as things were quietening down isn't a huge loss. A fifth Italian area, the Presena Glacier, had apparently been targeting this weekend for opening, but that's presumably on hold now.
Swiss ski centres have been reporting great snow conditions too and lots more fresh snow this week. Zermatt with 220cm up top has the deepest base in the world at present. Saas-Fee, Engelberg and Glacier 3000 at Les Diablerets are also open, as is the Diavolezza Glacier near St Moritz.
Davos opened its skiing on the historic Parsenn area at the weekend, several weeks earlier than planned. Next weekend it is Andermatt's turn to join the list of open Swiss area with their freeride area on Gemsstock due to open. Verbier has confirmed that it will open this weekend, and thereafter for weekends in November. Laax has also hinted that they may open imminently.
It's still six ski areas open in Scandinavia – two each for Norway, Finland and Sweden. Most have used snow farming to open although Norway's Galdhopiggen Glacier has been open all summer and this coming weekend is actually the end of a five-month season. It is colder and there's been natural snowfall in the region too.
Levi and Ruka up in Lapland opened at the start of this month with white streaks of last season's snow spread back on the autumnal landscape but now everything is white and new and old snow indistinguishable.
October 2020 will go down as one of the snowiest for quite a few years in the Pyrenees with yet another 'good dump' to start this week, the heaviest falls on Monday. So quite a few areas look to have a fairly decent 20-40cm of snow lying on their upper runs on both the French and Spanish sides and there have been videos posted of ski tourers making turns.
Cold and wet but not very snowy so far in Scotland. That said, Cairngorm did post images of light snow cover on its highest slopes at the start of the week. More cold and wet weather is forecast, especially in the west, over the week ahead with a fine balance between the precipitation arriving as rain or snow on the mountains.
Ski areas in Eastern Europe appear to be still some way from opening. Resorts in the north and east have seen some snow on higher slopes from the recent cold weather but down in Bulgaria, it has remained largely dry and sunny so far.
Canada's ski season has got off to a great start with first Mount Norquay, the local ski hill at Banff, announcing it would make the earliest opening in its 95-year history at the weekend, then Lake Louise announcing on Wednesday it too will have its earliest ever opening, this Thursday 29th October.
Consistent cold weather for snow-making and some regular October snowfall helped the decision making. It's been cold across Canada this week though with snow-making systems fired up at resorts from the Atlantic to Pacific Coasts.
The ski season in the US got underway in the perhaps unlikely location of Wild Mountain, a small centre in the Midwest state of Minnesota last week. The area had had unusually early snowfall and low temps for snow-making. There's only a terrain park open so far really but the centre can fairly claim to be the first in North America to open.
It was joined on Wednesday 28th October by Wolf Creek ski area in Colorado after the ski state, which had been suffering dry weather for months and is still being impacted by forest fires, saw a cold front bring snowfall to start the week – 22 inches of it in Wolf Creek's case.
Other areas that usually open early like Arapahoe Basin and Loveland look like they'll be delayed into November now. The snow in the Rockies extended to Wyoming and Utah in the north to New Mexico in the south and cold weather on East and West Coasts allowed snow-making guns to fire up from Vermont to California – the start of the season is only a few weeks away now for many US areas.
Keep the faith, and please bear with us as we try to keep abreast of a fast-moving situation!