If you’ve skied or snowboarded in Australia or New Zealand there’s quite a chance the “c” word fills you with a degree of dread.
It sounds like you’ll be shackled or tortured. Or at least your car will.
But are they to be feared? Are they overused? Or are they simply something that will save your car – or potentially your life?
Guthega – a sneaky good option at this time of the season. Pic: Perisher Facebook
From passes, to good lifties and getting skis stolen (err mistakenly taken), this is what I learnt on my first trip to the snow this season.
Ohau, NZ this week. A taste of things to come? Pic: NZ Tourism Guy.
Not everyone is in agreement with this one but if you listen to the Metservice, things are about to get very interesting across the ditch. The Snow Gauge put the question to NZ’s key weather forecaster and the answer was tasty indeed.
Read on for full details and a rundown a little closer to home and in South America.
If you haven’t already booked it could help you make a decision …
The Remarkables could get a pasting soon. Pic: The Remarkables Facebook.
Without being outstanding New Zealand has already fared a little better than Australia so far in 2017. The Remarkables is reporting a 40-75cm base, Mt Hutt 53-74cm while Cardrona/Treble Cone are a little lower (around 40cm) and Ohau is higher at 90cm.
But hold on to your hats …
The Snow Gauge got in touch with the Metservice in NZ, specifically Georgina Griffiths, who looks at the rural outlooks for the country. What she said was mighty encouraging.
“The New Zealand 2017 snow season is looking very different to 2016. Since the start of the year, New Zealand air and sea temperatures have averaged considerably colder than last year.” (This is not surprising, given the extreme warmth seen across the 2016 summer, autumn and winter).
“Looking ahead, temperatures are predicted to be unusually cold for the first half of July, and it is likely temperatures linger around average over the remainder of the month. All of these things add up to a healthy looking ski season.
“Reasonably frequent, natural snow falls have already set up the South Island slopes nicely, and as expected, temperatures this week have been extremely cold (well below freezing) over the South Island. Next week, we are predicting another very cold outbreak, which is expected to produce further snowfall, risk heavy, over the South Island ski fields,” noted Griffiths. “And there is a very good chance that the North Island finally sees some decent snow next week, too.”
Interestingly enough The Grasshopper isn’t quite so positive so we’ll see who ends up closer to the mark …
Thredbo: Has a 50cm base looked so good? Pic: Thredbo Facebook.
The storm of the last few days was desperately needed and couldn’t have been timed any better for the school holidays in the key markets. The numbers are on the low side but at least there’s a base. Current depth markers range between about 20-50cm for the majors in NSW and Victoria.
In terms of what’s to come it appears to be dribs and drabs (don’t worry I’m not about to get completely Tim Bailey on you) over the next fortnight and we may pick up 20cm or so of snow. The Frog over at Snowatch seems to like the end of this period from around the 18th so watch out for that.
The Grasshopper recently downgraded his seasonal outlook, though it is not into the dire territory by any stretch. You can read that here.
Portillo: Looking a treat already.
The numbers so far are impressive and with claims of a 210cm base Valle Nevado, just out of Santiago Chile is the winner. Portillo hasn’t fared to badly either (107cm base) and has better terrain than Valle Nevado anyway. Over the border in Argentina things are a bit bonier with Las Lenas at 60cm and Bariloche just 45cm.
What’s ahead then? Long range information is harder to come by in South America than a salad sandwich but general forecasts suggest nothing of major substance is on the way in the next fortnight.
With a decent base in the Chilean resorts already they could well be worth a tilt, just bear in mind the Andes tends to go famine or feast when it comes to snowfalls. But with seasonal figures often in the 7+ metre range they’ll invariably enjoy deeper snowpacks than both Australia and New Zealand.
Get over to Powderquest for some of the better South American updates.
It’s usually just outside Canberra on the way back from a two or three day trip to the snow that I ask myself the question: why didn’t I fly?
While I have done more than my share of road trips to both the NSW Snowy Mountains and Victorian Alps from Sydney there is something about flying that sits rather nicely with me.
It’s something to do with not feeling exhausted (there or on the way back), cutting a good chunk out of your travel time and not having to deal with thousands of people in their cars who have exactly the same idea of having a cheeky few days down the snow.
In celebration of such things our good friends at Regional Expresss (REX) have ponied up with four return airfares – two each from Sydney to Cooma and another two from Melbourne to Albury!
Charlotte Pass: Photo Charlotte Pass Facebook/Didj Mick Hopkins
It was a small gesture but an undeniably important one.
By Perisher opening Front Valley a week early, it’s the resort saying we’re on our toes and ready to move as the conditions dictate.
It’s another positive move by Perisher and comes amidst suggestions that Vail Resorts wants in at Charlotte Pass.