Snow addicts, don’t be too depressed by the golfers and gardeners – the 2011-12 ski season continues right through May (and beyond) if you know where to look!
Here is the www.skiinfo.co.uk guide to resorts in 10 countries where’s looks good for May 2012…
At Whistler, Blackcomb Mountain’s operations have been extended to May 28, 2012.
“We are enjoying another fantastic winter season here in Whistler so spring will have to wait just a little bit longer,” says Doug MacFarlane, Whistler Blackcomb mountain operations manager. “We’ve got some of the best spring conditions we’ve ever had. Extending the ski season on Blackcomb and giving the people what they want was an easy decision.”
Marmot Basin and Lake Louise in Alberta are also open the first week of May while Sunshine near Banff, which has reported record snowfall this year, is open another fortnight to nearly the end of May.
Ruka has the longest ski season in Finland and probably the longest season of any non-glacier ski area in the world. It expects to be open to June again this winter, almost all lifts and runs are open as we end April with temperatures hovering around zero. It usually keeps one or two main runs open through May and June. The resort’s 2010-2011 season ran from 18.10.2010-12.6.2011 with a total of 239 skiing days.
There’s no longer year-round skiing in France, but Tignes, host of the European X Games last month which once opened 365 days, still has by far the country’s longest season and is scheduled to open to May 8th, along with Europe’s highest resort, Val Thorens. After that there are no ski areas scheduled to be open in France until summer skiing begins in late June. You could ski indoors on the world’s longest indoor run at Amneville up in the north of the country though – it’s 600m long.
With most of Italy’s remaining ski areas closing in the first few days of May and summer ski destinations like Val Senales and Cervinia not opening until at least June, the country’s remaining May skiing is offered by the Presena Glacier above Passo Tonale where normally several challenging runs (intermediate level or better) are available.
Niseko had another good snow year, perhaps topping the world snowfall chart this winter with nearly 22m (66 feet) of snow reported. The snow is still lying thick and deep but it closes May 7th. After that one of the best bets may be to head to Gassan (“Moon Mountain” in Japanese), a small ski areas with a glacier in Tohoku Region’s Yamagata Prefecture which has one of the world’s oddest ski seasons – being open from May to July each year.
The world’s largest indoor ski slope by snow surface area and the one the FIS have chosen for nearly a decade now to stage World Cup snowboarding events each autumn in SnowWorld Landgraaf in the Netherlands – also hosts to numerous international teams for summer training. Along with snowsports this May the new 2.7 million Euro ‘Outdoor Park Snow World Landgraaf’ is due to open with a host of outdoor adventure attractions to enjoy.
Of course, there’s also plenty of indoor slopes and dryslopes in the UK too.
The summer ski season kicks off in May in Norway with Folgefonn normally the first to open early in the month followed by Stryn (24 May) and Galdhøpiggen. Each centre offers skiing, boarding and summer camps on the country’s highest and biggest glaciers.
Riksgränsen in the Arctic Circle in Northern Sweden has long been known as one of the world’s best destinations for late spring skiing, with the snow still fresh and less affected by the freeze-thaw spring skiing conditions at this time of year at resorts at more southerly latitudes. It also offers the novelty of 24 hour daylight from later in the month with skiing and boarding in the small hours under the midnight sun. 2012 snow conditions are reported to be excellent.
Engelberg has had the deepest snowbase in Europe all winter and at the time of writing it was still lying 6m (20 feet) deep up on the resort’s Titlis glacier, where the season continues to 28 May this year.
Other Swiss options include Zermatt – open year round, and Glacier 3000 above Les Diablerets which plans to stay open to the end of May. The Diavolezza glacier in the Engadin Valley near St Moritz is a further choice.
Mammoth Mountain in California has long been one of the best bets for spring skiing through to June or July in the USA and despite an unusual snowfall-short winter, frequent heavy snow storms through March and April have given the resort a good base and it has so far announced it will be open at least to the USS Memorial Day holiday at the very end of May.
Elsewhere with a 100-inch (2.5m) base, Snowbird in Utah is still open for skiing and boarding, and says it will, “continue running lifts as long as the snowpack and other conditions permit.” Crystal Mountain in Washington also plans to stay open beyond May and Timberline in Oregon is a third choice.
The Southern Hemisphere
The ski season in the southern hemisphere is unlikely to start until early June unless there is unseasonable early snow. Typically Afri-ski in Lesotho (www.afri-ski.com) is one of the first to open, scheduled for June 7 this year, along with resorts in New Zealand.
Elsewhere in Europe
The Scottish ski areas are keen to prove they can deliver snow sports after being forced to close through March due to record warm weather. Three were open for the final weekends of April and with the weather still cool, may open in to May.