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And it has come to an end…

Although we all hoped to ski and ride into June, Mother Nature had other plans, as she often does. With virtually no snow on the lower third of Superstar, we have decided NOT to spin the lift on Wednesday June 1.

Killington: May 29
With a pathetic 81″ (one-third their yearly snowfall average), Killington showed us a commitment to offering skiing as long as there was snow on the ground. The fact that they opened at all on Sunday, where skiers had to walk-on and off the lift, climb down to the snow and hike the bottom pitch of Superstar, is truly amazing. That was the kind of spirit that Killington had made their reputation in the 1980s and 1990s with continuous years of June skiing when the term “Some walking required” was a given. No one else would have opened under these conditions and even K wouldn’t have even been even been close to open this weekend a few years ago. Kudos to the Killington crew for your commitment in offering us skiing so late this season, even if Mother Nature wasn’t very kind to the East this season. Latest closing since June 1, 2002 THIS season is truly a symbol of their dedication to skiing.

Mont St-Sauveur: May 23
Although the season wasn’t as pathetic as South of the border, it wasn’t a great year like the previous season. The cold April help prolong the season, in some cases, the damage was already done when the real Spring skiing arrived (see ski areas below). MSS has been generally been aiming for mid-May and Victoria Day weekend every year and reaching it. Kudos to everyone at MSS. An extra three weekends of Spring skiing over other Eastern ski areas plus the extra days in October, only Killington had offered a later and longer season.

Jay Peak VT – May 1
Mont Comi QC – May 1
Sugarbush VT – May 1
Sugarloaf ME – May 1
Sunday River ME – May 1

Now what?

Killington isn’t the only ski resort in North America to close recently. There aren’t many liftserved options left on the continent. Summer ski area Beartooth Basin MT hasn’t open again this season due lack of snow.

Killington VT – closed May 29
Mt. Bachelor OR – closed May 29
Aspen CO – closed May 30 (open for Memorial Day weekend)**
Snowbird UT – closed May 30
Squaw Valley CA – closed May 30
Blackcomb BC – closed on May 30, but reopening on June 11

Still open (or reopening):
Aspen C) – June 5 (weekend only)**
Arapahoe Basin CO – June 12 5 (minimum daily until June 5, then Friday-Sunday only)*
Mammoth Mountain CA – July 4 June 12 (minimum)**
Blackcomb BC – July 17 (reopen on June 11)
Timberline Lodge UT – September 5

Northern Hemisphere

That is it, 3 ski areas open this week, potential 4 in mid-June. Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood is offers close to year-round skiing in North America. They are a few places in Europe in the Alps (Tignes, Les Deux Alpes, Zermatt, Saas Fee, Passeo del Stelvio, Hintertux and Mölltaler Gletscher) and Norway (Stryn, Galdhøpiggen and Fonna) that offer the same. A few other offer June and early Summer skiing in the Alps and Scandinavia, but not close to year around.

Southern Hemisphere

Our Summer is their Winter, so that a number of ski resorts on the southern continents of South America (Chile, Argentina), Australia (New Zealand, Australia). There are also 3 ski areas in South Africa and Lesotho in Africa.

Other silly places to ski with lifts
Indoor skiing found in Europe, Asia and Australia and dryslope skiing, sand skiing, but I’ll stop here before it gets too crazy.

Skiing without lifts?
It’s a big world, there are a number of areas that still have snow. Even in the East, where the season has been so bad, but not for long. Some of it is serious and it can be silly.

I’m planning to keep the blog somewhat active the Summer minus of a few weeks. I have a few posts related my Summer skiing experiences that have never been posted which I hope to be able to post them over the next few months. Some of them may be republication from another site on the blog and will show on their original date, so subscribed on the Ski Mad World Facebook page or on Twitter to be fully in touch with snow.

* UPDATE, June 1: Arapahoe Basin announced closing day as June 12. Closed midweek next week.
** UPDATE, June 3: Mammoth announced they were extending their season to July 4. Aspen announced they be open this weekend.

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List of Killington Seasons since 1966-67

*** 2012/2013 : Appreciation Day for one October weekend, reopened on November 5. K record states season as “October 13-15, Nov 5 – May 26”
** 2005/2006 : Open for one weekend after huge October storm, reopen on November 19. K record states season as “October 29-30, Nov 19 – May 1”
* 2008/09 : Nov. 2-6, Nov. 19-May 2

Season Open – Close / Total Snowfall / Ski Days
2015/2016 October 19 – May 29 / 81” / 189
2014/2015 November 3 – May 24 / 197” / 192
2013/2014 October 23 – May 18 / 196” / 199
2012/2013*** October 13 – May 26 / 208” / 195
2011/2012 October 29 – April 22 / 152” / 176
2010/2011 November 2 – May 1 / 263” / 179
2009/2010 November 7 – April 25 / 230” / 153
2008/2009** November 2 – May 2 / 283” / 169
2007/2008 November 16 – April 20 / 282” / 157
2006/2007 November 23 – May 6 / 294” / 165
2005/2006* October 29 – May 1 / 191” / 166
2004/2005 November 9 – May 15 / 206” / 188
2003/2004 November 10 – May 12 / 215” / 184
2002/2003 October 25 – May 26 / 291” / 204
2001/2002 November 6 – June 1 / 192” / 202
2000/2001 October 29 – May 27 / 316” / 202
1999/2000 October 25 – May 29 / 209” / 205
1998/1999 October 22 – May 25 / 186” / 204
1997/1998 October 1 – May 25 / 242” / 205
1996/1997 October 4 – June 22 / 301” / 233
1995/1996 October 17 – June 10 / 307” / 224
1994/1995 October 3 – June 4 / 182” / 214
1993/1994 October 1 – June 9 / 279” / 243
1992/1993 October 1 – June 1 / 300” / 229
1991/1992 October 21 – June 14 / 198” / 226
1990/1991 October 27 – May 28 / 206” / 214
1989/1990 October 10 – May 28 / 249” / 208
1988/1989 October 13 – May 21 / 202” / 211
1987/1988 October 12 – June 1 / 238” / 227
1986/1987 October 10 – June 3 / 233” / 224
1985/1986 October 1- June 3 / 198” / 224
1984/1985 November 3 – June 2 / 220” / 212
1983/1984 October 20 – June 21 / 238” / 246
1982/1983 October 17 – June 16 / 197” / 240
1981/1982 October 20 – June 15 / 268” / 225
1980/1981 October 14 – May 27 / 257” / 226
1979/1980 October 10 – May 23 / 138” / 221
1978/1979 October 16 – May 22 / 292” / 219
1977/1978 October 24 – May 23 / 341” / 195
1976/1977 October 27 – May 15 / 346” / 201
1975/1976 October 30 – May 5 / 232” / 173
1974/1975 October 19 – May 12 / 307” / 190
1973/1974 November 5 – April 30 / 193” / 177
1972/1973 October 20 – April 15 / 267” / 184
1971/1972 November 9 – May 18 / 323” / 192
1970/1971 November 18 – May 21 / 334” / 184
1969/1970 October 24 – May 4 / NA” / 178
1968/1969 November 9 – May 10 / NA” / 183
1967/1968 November 5 – April 7 / NA” / 154
1966/1967 November 4 – May 2 / NA” / 180

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Ski Mad World’s weekly Eastern Closing 2016 posts:
Let’s move Past EASTer & Go Easterner – Eastern Closing Thread 2016 – Part 1
Freeze Frame – Eastern Closing Thread 2015-16 – semaine 2
Monday, Monday…Eastern Closing 2016 Update – Week 3
The best of Spring Skiing – Eastern Closing 2016 – Week 4
May continue skiing – Eastern Closing Thread 2016 – Week 5
Dual May Days for Mothers’ Day – Eastern Closing Thread 2016 – Week 6
May it last? Eastern Closing Thread 2016 – Week 7
Deep into May – Eastern Closing Thread 2016 – Week 8
At the end of May – Eastern Closing Thread 2016 – Week 9

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By August 2011, only seven ski areas in Europe were still offering liftserved skiing (FirstTracksOnline News).

Tignes, France
Les Deux Alpes, France
Zermatt, Switzerland
Saas-Fee, Switzerland
Passo dello Stelvio, Italy
Hintertux, Austria (August and September)
– Mölltaler Gletscher, Austria

euro-summer-ski

I wasn’t in Europe to ski, but I was going to ski in Europe. I had hoped going on our last Summer in Europe back in 1998, but a record heat wave and a freak accident prevented me from doing so.

This time, 13 years later, I was going to cross off the months August and September in my ski streak. Then it occurred to me, wouldn’t be interesting to make a comparison between each ski areas still activate within the same time period. It didn’t start that way, but as time the weeks passed by, it became a goal. The fact that I probably not return to do a summer tour of European glaciers made it even more appealing. Visiting them side-by-side in the same time period at the closing of the Summer season and give me a better ideas of what Europe got to offer to skiers in the late Summer months.

Only Zermatt and Hintertux are open year-round while the others shutdown once the Summer comes to an end: some of them for a few weeks, while Passo dello Stelvio is only open in Summer.

This is a list of different aspect of each summer ski areas. I don’t like to talk about “Best of” lists, but the following is more according to my opinions, thus the reason why I call it “Favorites”. For many of them, the actual summer terrain was greater than what was left at the end of the season. The following only reflected of what was left.

Favorite park : Les Deux Alpes
Favorite terrain : Hintertux
Favorite winter quality snow : Zermatt
Favorite off-the-beaten track : Passo dello Stelvio
Favorite place : Saas-Fee
Favorite place in France : Tignes
Most expensive : Zermatt
Biggest vertical : Hintertux
Highest altitude (summit and base of skiing) : Zermatt
Lowest altitude (summit and base of skiing) : Hinterux
Favorite on mountain food : Hintertux
Favorite beer selection : Hintertux
Favorite view : Zermatt, Tignes and Saas-Fee
Favorite sick road : Passo dello Stelvio
Less favorite steeps (or lack of) : Les Deux Alpes
Favorite steeps : Hintertux
Favorite Day conditions during my visit : Passo dello Stelvio
Favorite place to have fun : Saas-Fee (2nd in parks, good terrain and off-the-beaten track).

The only ski area I didn’t to visit that was still open was Mölltaler Gletscher in Austria. As I mentioned to my wife, I was probably not going to repeat a European Summer Ski Safari as the cost was much more expensive than a trip to South America, but it was fun to do. I would have loved to make to Mölltaler, but I was running out of energy and cash after almost 6 weeks in Europe; 3 of them in the Alps. At 85.7%, it’s a good sample of the mission into what late summer skiing in Europe has to offer.

Click on the specific links or image to access the seven original Ski Mad World posts.

Cham, Genève et Tignes turns August, FR – 11-13 août 2011

13 août 2011: Glacier de la Grande Motte, Tignes

See La Meije and Ski Les Deux Alpes: 20-21 août 2011

Zermatt CH : August 24, 2011 – Classic!!!

Saas-Fee CH : August 25, 2011 – Between Zermatt and Zürich

Passo dello Stelvio / Stilfserjoch IT : August 28, 2011 – Sci estivo

Hintertux, AUT : August 29, 2011 – Austria’s turns

Hintertux, AUT : September 1, 2011 – last turns and days in Europe

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How many ski areas are only open in the Summer time? Passo dello Stelvio located in Italy’s South Tyrol is accessed from the top of the mountain pass of the same name is one of the them. The ski area is only open in the Summer partially due because the road is generally not open from October to May.

Contrary to many other Alps summer operations, this ski area is a one season area and base is very modest in size. The lowest Tram is located at the pass at 2760 meters and connects to Trincerone. Another Tram connects to another station slightly higher at 3174m. From that point, there are a few more drag lifts. Some lodging is available at the pass or that the two tram stations higher in altitude.

Skiing terrain in early summer can reached up to close to 700 meters with skiing from the highest point at 3450m down all the way to the pass at 2760m. All, but one of the ten ski runs are above 3000 meters.

Quote from the ski map:

Una vacanza divesa e indimenticabile!

Ideal for learning and improving technique in all disciplines, from snowboarding and skiing, to off -piste and cross-country skiing. (…) Add to all this a disco, swimming pool, gym, sauna, Jacuzzi…as well as mountain biking, golf and weekly excursions to the Bormio Terme and Giorenza, and you get a unique and unforgettable holiday.

This ski map was taken during my visit in August 2011. Read the Trip Report for description and ski day : Passo dello Stelvio / Stilfserjoch IT : August 28, 2011 – Sci estivo

Click to access larger image

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How many ski areas are only open in the Summer time?

Taking the train out of Zürich the previous day, my driving through Italy’s South Tyrol to go skiing made it the fourth country in less than 24 hours. The previous afternoon I moved from Switzerland through Liechtenstein to end up in Austria’s Tyrol.


Zürich streetcar


Zürich Hauptbahnhof


Walensee


Schann, Liechtenstein


Tyrol

It was still dark outside when I was waiting to be picked up at 5:30am by a fellow Ottawa Masters Racer. It had been a long walk up the hill from the train station the previous evening, now I was waiting at the side of the street. I was in front of the Pension Can in the small town of Landeck where I had stayed the night when I finally the headlights coming my way. Herve and I were heading for a place called Stifserjoch in Italy, 100km drive and less than 60km south of the Austria border: A Mountain pass which serves as the border between South Tyrol and Lombarby and a stone throw from Switzerland. In fact, South Tyrol was annexed by Italy at the end of the First World War in 1919 and most of the population of this province maiden language is still German thus the two different names for the same ski area (Italian 2011 Census).

I had mentioned to him that I wished to ski most of the seven ski areas open in late summer and that Passo dello Stelvio was on the list:
Tignes, France
Les Deux Alpes, France
Zermatt, Switzerland
Sass-Fee, Switzerland
– Passo dello Stelvio, Italy
– Hintertux, Austria
– Möllaler Gletscher, Austria

Hervé was now racing in Europe and living in Germany. When I inquired about summer skiing in the Alps, he asked me if I wouldn’t mind the company? We were initially supposed to tag up and ski Saas-Fee and Zermatt together, but the high possibility of rain during that week, hard connections from Germany to the Swiss Alps and cost didn’t make it worthwhile for him to take a few days off work. That decision was wise especially when it rained in Saas-Fee and the ski area was closed on the day we were suppose to meet. We proposed our get together and found a place for me to stay in Landeck on the road from his Bavarian home to Passo dello Stelvio. We would drive back to Austria from Italy and head to Hintertux that evening and ski there the following day.


Early morning in the South Tyrol, Italy


Inside the old town : don’t follow the GPS too closely


Switchback to the top of Passo dello Stelvio

The road up Passo dello Stelvio belongs in the same category as roads up to Alpe d’Huez in France or Valle Nevado in Chile for puked factor. In what seemed like an endless series of switchbacks, we finally made it to the top of the pass at 2760 m populated by a few builders, hotels and tram building. This was the second highest road in the Alps, after the Col de l’Iséran near Val d’Isère which made my oldest daughter puke two weeks ago on my ski Tignes day.


Lower tram prior around 7:30am

I felt better when we arrived at the top and started breathing the fresh mountain air. As we were getting ready in the tiny parking lot, there was already a lineup of racers waiting for first tram. It took two tram rides to reach Livrio (3174m) and the remaining skiable terrain on this late August morning of this warm summer in the Alps. The terrain seemed simple and lackluster at first with the two Geister parallel poma lines running a fairly flat slope. From the tram, you needed to climb downslope to reach the lift. The bottom of the slope was simply ice. Towards the top of the lift, Hervé indicated to turn right at the top and its at this moment that I realized there was more to Passo dello Stelvio liftserved skiing that meets the eye. There was another poma on a steeper side. Coaches were busy setting up a few courses on the Payer runs as we were enjoying some fresh tracks. Yes, fresh snow tracks in August in the Italy. How special is that? The base was somewhat firm, but there were some pockets of fluff. That side of the hill was steeper. After 4 runs on the steeper side, we headed for another poma that was slightly lower.

The Cristallo lift wasn’t running, so we decided to keep an eye on it. At one point, we saw a few skiers waiting and the lift running, so we decided to join them. That lift was on a flatter slope on a different orientation. The poma seemed to have technical issues, but once everything was figured out, we made 10 fast laps in the fresh snow. The poma didn’t have a great vertical, but we didn’t care as the skiing was so much fun. The skier’s right of the poma had a narrow strip with a few fun rolls. On the other side of the ridge from that poma was a huge drop off with skiing destination Bormio within sight.


View of the main Geister slopes from Livrio (3174m)


Cristallo poma


Hervé and Cristallo fresh tracks


Hervé on Cristallo and view of the Payer lift and slope


View off the back end of the Cristallo lift. Bormio is in the other direction


Payer lift and courses


Payer lift and courses. View of the Cristallo poma at the bottom

We headed back and skied down the main slope to the rustic lodge next the Tram terminal with the even more rustic bathroom. Best view from behind a toilet ever. After our food, water & expresso break, we headed back up for some more laps on the Cristallo slope. Once the racers had all gone from the steeper Payer runs and we took advantage from the nice firm edgeable snow for a few last runs. We tried to milk it for extra more runs on the Geister side, but it was 1pm and the closing time. The liftee stopped our day at 27 runs.


Main side (Geister). Livrio at the botton. Tricerone (3050m) can be seen on the left. You could load midway to avoid the flats and ugly snow.


Payer and Cristallo pams at the end of the day


Livrio lodge and buildings. Notice the steep carpet ride to access the lodge. White building on the left is the tram terminal.

Although the skiing is modest, the setting of this place had it special and we had a great day.
I understand why Hervé likes this place. After our runs, it was back down via the Trams to the car at the pass, back down the valley and onto our next destination.


View of part of the road up to the Pass – I can’t remember if this is the toilet view?


Tram between Livrio and Trincerone


Buildings at the Pass


Passo dello Stelvio and Swiss border. The border had a strategy importance prior to the First World War when the pass marked also the border between Austro-Hungarian Empire and Italian Kingdom with Switzerland just above


View driving down to the valley


Ciao South Tyrol

MadPat’s Galleries :
Tag 30 / 27 August: Zürich nach Österreich
Giorno 31 / 28 agosto: Passo dello Stelvio

20110828_stelvio
Day’s Log

20110828_stelvio_de

Detail log of skiable terrain

The Day and terrain stats: 27 runs and 4137m vertical in about 5 hours including the 1 hour break.
Verticals :
Geister 1 + 2 : 192m (3160-3352)
Geister 2 (from the midloading point): 157m (3185-3352)
Payer : 147m (3190-3339)
Cristallo : 149m (3170-3319)

Tram Passo dello Stelvio-Trincerone : 290m (2760-3050)
Tram Trincerone-Livrio : 124m (3050-3174)
Both Trams : 414m
Top to bottom ski terrain on August 28 : 192m (3160-3352) / early summer potential : 592m

Monday Mad Addict’s Attic features Passo dello Stelvio and includes a ski map of the area

europass

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