Final skiing days of the season
Most resorts in the Alps are now closed. With the surprising amount of fresh white stuff in the past couple of weeks, those that remain open are bringing spring skiing to whole new levels: the pistes are empty and snow conditions are amazing, although avalanche risk off-piste is extremely high.
Prices are low compared with the Easter holidays, there are no lift queues and there are long daylight hours and plenty of blue-sky skiing. There’s sunbathing on the terrace at lunchtime and the option of mountain-biking and springtime hiking in the valleys for non-skiers.
After this weekend, just a handful of high-altitude resorts will remain open for another week or two. In Austria, Sölden’s season ends on 6 May. In France, most of the remaining resorts currently still open will close today, or by 1 May at the latest – including Alpe d’Huez, Courchevel, Les Deux Alpes, La Plagne, La Clusaz, Méribel and Val d’Isère. Just Chamonix, Tignes and Val Thorens will remain open in France. They are scheduled to close on 8 May. There will then be no resorts open for the rest of the month, until Les Deux Alpes, Tignes and Val d’Isère reopen in June for summer skiing. The Swiss resort of Engelberg has laid claim to Europe’s deepest snow for most of the 2012 season (around 6m) and is scheduled to remain open for most of May.
Across the pond a few weeks ago, many resorts extended their seasons to capitalize on the excellent late snow conditions, including Breckenridge, Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, Heavenly and Kirkwood. These are all now closing this weekend, with the exception of Alpine Meadows, which will open weekends only until at least May 13th, making it the only Tahoe resort to stay open beyond April. Mammoth Mountain is planning to stay open until at least May 28th.
Crystal Mountain, in Washington State, intends to stay open into May; while Mt Baker – the world’s snowiest resort for most of 2012, with a snowbase of more than 7 metres, is surprisingly closing this weekend. In Utah, only Brighton and Snowbird remain open for weekends only, hopefully right through May. On the east coast, only Killington in Vermont is open.
Most ski areas have already closed in Colorado, but Arapahoe Basin, Loveland and Winter Park remain open. In Canada, Whistler Blackcomb has extended their mountain operations by a whopping 60 days – until May 28.
This really is your last chance of the season so don’t delay… grab your skis and get in the snow!