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Snow reports from the southern hemisphere reports that the number of ski areas open worldwide continues to rise despite more areas closing for the season in Austria, Sweden, Switzerland and the US. 

That’s because more the southern hemisphere’s ski season has kicked off at resorts in Chile and New Zealand and next week Australia, Canada and France will be opening ski areas too.

There are currently just six glaciers open for snow sports in the Alps however. In Austria the Dachstein glacier, which was due to have opened for summer skiing a fortnight ago, hopes to finally do so this weekend.  The delay has been caused by problems on lift infrastructure upgrading work which has taken longer than expected, partly due to bad weather (snow). The ski area has reduced season ticket prices to compensate disappointed skiers and snowboarders.

The Kitsteinhorn glacier above Kaprun is also briefly closed for a few weeks annual maintenance and the Molltral glacier will not re-open until the June 27. However several other Austrian glaciers are still open, if, in the case of Kaunertal and Stubai, not for long. The ski area at Kaunertal which has received 13cm (5 inches) of new snow in the past week closes for the season on Sunday, with a re-opening party already announced for 15-17 October, book now!  The Stubai glacier also closes this Sunday, 13 June, it has a 170cm base and five runs open, served by four lifts.

So only the Tux glacier is staying open for good at the moment.  It has 25km of runs to enjoy on a 295cm (10 foot) deep snow pack with nine lifts operating.

Elsewhere in the Alps Passo Stelvio is open in Italy as is the Presena glacier above Passo Tonale, but one of the two red runs that was open has now closed leaving just one red and one black run to enjoy. Val Senales opens this Saturday and Cervinia a fortnight later on the 26.

In Switzerland Europe’s highest lifts on Zermatt are operational at the famous resport’s large summer ski area. It appears to be the only summer ski area currently open in the country as the Diavolezza glacier near St Moritz has now closed.

In the French Alps the glaciers at Les Deux Alpes, Tignes and Val d’Isere are scheduled to begin their summer ski season from the middle of next week.

Les Deux Alpes will open first next Wednesday, 16 June, and stay open to Saturday 28 August 2010. The glacier slopes are open from 7.15am to 1.30pm daily and from resort level at 1500m. It takes about 30 minutes to reach Europe's largest skiable glacier (3200m-3600m). There are 200 skiable hectares on the glacier served by 11 ski lifts. On the snow you’ll find 11 runs comprising a red run, eight blue runs, two green runs and a large snowpark with two half-pipes, hips, quarters, boardercross, rails and jumps, plus music and barbecues.

In Tignes the glacier will open from Sasturday 19 June to Sunday 29 August 2010 from 7.15am to 1pm daily.  The Tignes Glacier rises from 2700m to 3600m and boasts 20km of ski runs served by 12 lifts and 750m of vertical. There’s a snow park and an ice grotto not to mention having breathtaking views. Access to the glacier by funicular only takes seven minutes.

In Northern Europe Scotland’s Cairngorm Mountain remains open at weekends although snow cover is finally reported to be getting patchy.

In Scandinavia Sweden’s Arctic circle ski area of Riksgransen has now closed and so Norway’s three open glacier areas of Folgefonn, Galdhoppigen and Stryn are the best bets.

Finland’s Ruka still has its Saarua summer ski slope open until this weekend however, June 13 is the last day of the Finnish ski season.

In North America two ski areas are currently open full time in the US, and one at weekends.  There are no lift-served ski slopes open in Canada, but that will change next week when Whistler’s Blackcomb glacier re-opens for a summer ski season on Saturday 19 June.

The last ski area still open for the 2009-10 season in Colorado, Arapahoe Basin, closed at the weekend. 

Snowbird in Utah however is open for at least one more weekend and possibly longer. It hasn’t had any fresh snow recently but has  2.3m (90 inches) of snow lying at mid mountain and recently passed the 600 inches (15 metres) of snow accumulated this season in total. The total is 603 inches.

In California Mammoth Mountain still has the best part of a month of its long season left, it’s open daily and plans to remain so until at least the US Independence day, July 4. It most recently received five inches (13cm) of new snow on May 27 and currently has a 4-7 foot (1.2-2.1m) of snow.

America’s near year-round ski centre of Timberline on Mt Hood in Oregon is the other open ski area in North America. Its lifts, terrain park and pipe are all open. There’s a 131inch (3.25m) base at present.

The southern hemisphere’s 2010 ski season is under way with Coronet Peak in New Zealand opening on Saturday, June 5 with a 50cm (20 inch) base including 15cm (six inches) of new snow that fell on Tuesday.
Conditions are actually looking good across the country and most of New Zealand’s resorts will open in the next three weeks. First Tracks were reported at Treble Cone last week, for those prepared to hike up, with 30cm of new snow, and a further 25cm (10 inches) was reported there yesterday (Tuesday 8 June). 

The Remarkables currently has a 60cm (2 foot) base although no plans to open for another two weeks. Mt Hutt, with a full one metre (3.3 foot) base, will open next Saturday June 12. Cardrona and Mt Ruapehu will open later this month.

Ski Dobson possibly has the deepest base in the southern hemisphere at preset with 1.3m, (4.3 feet) but it will not open until the weekend on June 20/21 and full-time from the following weekend.

In Australia most resorts had some natural snow last month and currently have low temperatures and are able to commence snowmaking. Falls Creek, Mt Hotham, Thredbo and Perisher are all snowmaking at the moment ahead of opening in the next few weeks.

In South Africa the country’s only ski area of Tiffindell has a snow covering and with low temperatures continuing should be able to open quite soon. The same is true of Afriski in neighbouring Lesotho which had hoped to open on June 1.

In South America many ski areas are reporting cold temperatures and snow but none are so far saying they have opened.

Chile’s Valle Nevado will be opening shortly, neighbouring El Colorado (Farrellones) on June 11 and Portillo in two weeks on the 19.

In Argentina Las Lenas reports 4cm of snow remains on the tops of the mountains following a big 30cm (12 inch) fall last month.

Posted by Online Editor - Fri, 11/06/2010 - 9:08am