‘Awesome’ is the only word we can think of to describe the start of the 2016 ski season in the southern hemisphere.
In the days and weeks leading up to the start of the season, there have been some huge snowfalls in South America and New Zealand, making this season one of the best ever! One resort in Chile even reported around 100 inches of snow in seven days.
The “El Nino effect” is credited for the snowy start to the season south of the equator. In case you’ve forgotten, it’s the same weather effect that broke the five-year drought in California (and other areas of the West Coast in North America)—so much so that we hear Mammoth Mountain plans to stay open until at least Independence Day, July 4th.
There were some good snowfalls in April and May across the southern hemisphere’s ski slopes, but things really moved up a gear over these past few weeks. Argentina, Chile and New Zealand in particular reported huge snow totals.
Ski Portillo in Chile posted the biggest accumulation with a single multi-day storm, dumping an amazing NINE FEET of snow on the world-famous powder destination. Skiers and snowboarders can expect epic conditions when the resort opens next week. (Looking for Ski Portillo lift tickets? Buy them in advance on Liftopia.com and you can save some serious cash!)
Valle Nevado, one of the closest ski areas to Chilean capital Santiago and part of one of the continent’s largest ski areas, opened Friday, June 10. La Parva, also in Chile, has opened June 9.
But El Colorado trumped them all and opened June 3 (several weeks ahead of its planned opening date). With 40 inches on the upper runs and half that at its base, the resort holds the title for being the first ski resort in the southern hemisphere to open for winter 2016.
In Argentina, the majority of ski resorts have announced opening days this week.
Opening Dates For South American Ski Resorts
Ski Portillo: June 18
Valle Nevado: OPEN as of June 10
La Parva: OPEN as of June 9
El Colorado: OPEN as of June 3
Across the Pacific, big snowfalls were also seen in New Zealand. Ski areas reported total accumulations not quite so big as South America, but still enough for resorts to make all of their terrain accessible on their announced opening dates.
Opening Dates For New Zealand Resorts
Mt Hutt: Saturday, June 11
Cardrona: Saturday, June 11
Coronet Peak: Saturday, June 11
More about southern hemisphere skiing…
For those not familiar with the southern hemisphere ski season, it typically runs from early June through late September. On good years, resorts can open as early as May if they wish (a few New Zealand ski areas certainly could have this year) and occasionally Mt Ruapehu ski area (also in New Zealand) stays open to ‘Snowvember’ – the hemisphere’s equivalent of Mammoth making it to Independence Day.
The ski areas are mostly in Chile and Argentina, in the Andes mountains of South America, as well as in Australia and New Zealand. There are even a few on southern tip of Africa in Lesotho and South Africa.
So how is the rest of the southern hemisphere looking? Well, in southern Africa there were some natural snowfalls in April and May. The two centres are now snowmaking during the cold nights and they intend to open any day now.
Australian ski areas also posted some snowy pictures last month after a good pre-season snowfall. Most will open over the weekend as it’s a long holiday weekend there. They too are currently relying mostly on snowmaking for any early operations.