Valle Nevado in Chile joins Mountain Collective Pass

Interesting El Nino story from www.yourwellness.com

“WHILE Panama’s Pacific coast braces itself for extra heavy downloads of rain, courtesy of El Niño, the folks in the Chilean Andes are delighted because the extra dumping come as snow.

Yes, that white stuff that sends some 750,000 Canadians and Americans scampering south in search of the sun during the northern winter, sends a smaller ban of a different kind of snowbird even further south to extend the skiing season, and this year it promises to be even longer
Valle Nevado, in Chile Chile’s premiere ski resort, opened two weeks early on Friday June 13 due to heavy early snowfall..

While El Niño weather patterns have forecast favorable weather conditions for the central Andes this year, the amount of snow received in the past few weeks has already exceeded expectations, and promises an even better season than previously rumored.

Earlier this year Valle Nevado has some added incentives for visitors as Chile joined the U.S. visa waiver program and the $160 reciprocity fee for U.S. visitors has been lifted, making air travel to Chile more convenient and affordable.

In addition, Valle Nevado just became one of the very first southern hemisphere members of the Mountain Collective Pass, joining the ranks of legendary resorts Alta Snowbird, Aspen/Snowmass, Jackson Hole, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, Whistler/Blackcomb and Mammoth Mountain. U.S.

Mountain Collective pass holders for 2014-15 receive 2 free lift tickets during Valle Nevado’s 2014 season, and “top-tier” pass holders from member resorts receive 50% off lift tickets for up to 7 days.”

Lack of snow keeps some ski resorts closed in New Zealand

Interesting Associated Press story by Nick Perry on lack of snow in New Zealand

Winter has rolled into its third month in New Zealand, and Nick Jarman says he’s going stir crazy as he stares out at the driving rain on the small ski area he manages in the Southern Alps.

The Craigieburn Valley Ski Area is one of several areas that haven’t opened for a single day this season, and some fear there may not be enough snow to open at all this year — something Jarman says has never happened during his 30 years carving turns on the mountain’s slopes.

Ski operators throughout New Zealand are feeling the effects of the country’s warmest start to the Southern Hemisphere winter since record-keeping began in 1909. And while one bad season doesn’t prove a trend, it comes at a time when scientists say the country’s snow pack and glaciers are melting at an alarming rate due to climate change.

The country’s largest ski areas have managed to open only because they’ve invested in equipment to make their own snow, which they’ve been doing this year in unprecedented quantities. For now, at least, that’s helped protect the nation’s reputation as a winter play land, one that each year attracts more than 60,000 skiers and snowboarders from Australia alone from June to August when it is winter south of the equator.

At Queenstown’s Coronet Peak, 200 snow guns have been blazing day and night whenever the temperature dips a little below freezing. Those guns have turned enough water to fill 100 Olympic-size swimming pools into a white blanket that’s remained on the main trails even on days when some skiers have taken to wearing t-shirts.

But New Zealand also has a tradition of small ski areas that rely entirely on natural snow, and many are facing steep financial losses this year. Typically, the areas are run as nonprofits. They are kept open not only by tourist dollars but also from the work of enthusiastic volunteers. Operators of these areas say they can’t afford to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in snow-making equipment.

Jarman says Craigieburn employs about 10 staff but can only pay them once the area opens. He says it’s not just the ski areas that are suffering, but also the local ski rental stores, the gas stations, even the bakeries. He says he’s been refunding money to tourists who have booked ski and accommodation packages, and the season is putting a strain on Craigieburn’s finances.

“It’s going to be hard, really hard. We don’t have the extra money to spend on maintenance,” he says. “We’re not living on caviar and salmon.” Read more at SNOW.

Good description of Mt. Buller in Australia from On The Snow

On The Snow wrote a helpful piece on Mt. Buller in Australia:

A three-hour drive from Melbourne, Mt. Buller is close enough for a day’s escape. There are 25 runs in total divided into two areas of the mountain: the Northern Slopes and Southern Slopes. Intermediate runs are found on both sides of the mountain, favorites include the wide cruising slopes of Little Buller Spur and Wombat. Most advanced runs are on the south side, such as the popular Federation, Wood Run, Bull Run and Wombat bowls. First-timers can find their feet by buying a Discovery Pass which costs $108 (AUD) for one day which includes a two-hour lesson and access to seven beginner lifts. Buller also has five miles of cross-country trails, three terrain parks and two toboggan parks.

When to go: Early June to Early October

Terrain: 740 acres

Lifts: Three high-speed chairs and 10 surface lifts

Après-ski: After working up an appetite on the slopes, relax with a gluhwine next to the fire at the Moosehead bar or head to the lively Kooroora bar—a favorite locals’ watering hole. Choose from a range of dining options, including gourmet burgers, Italian, Asian, tapas and more.

Resort facilities: Mt Buller is also home to the High Alpine Spa Retreat—Australia’s highest day spa. Buller has more than 30 bars and restaurants and around 7,000 beds, some of which are ski-in/ski-out properties. There’s also a ski school, a range of shops, a movie theater and ski rentals.

Ski pass prices: Daily lift tickets cost $113 (AUD)

Transportation: Located 154 miles from Melbourne, it’s a three-hour drive away via the Hume Highway or Maroondah Highway. Park about a mile from Buller and take the free shuttle service. A number of private coach companies also operate between Melbourne and Buller.

Chilean Freeskiing Championships kicks off Freeride Series

Powder Magazine announces start of Freeride Series:

“The first big mountain freeride competition of the 2014-15 Freeride Series will kick off August 20-25 with The North Face Chilean Freeskiing Championships in El Colorado, Chile. The event is open to male and female skiers only.

Stop number one of the Freeride Series will take place on the massive cliff-riddled Santa Teresa venue. The series is North and South America’s premier level big mountain freeride tour providing five competition stops for skiers and four events for snowboarders. All events will be webcast live on SubaruFreerideSeries.com.

For the sixth consecutive year, big mountain ski competition will return to the Southern Hemisphere, allowing athletes from around the world to earn points on the 2014-15 Freeride Series.

The top three results out of five events throughout the competition season will crown the overall Freeride Series ski winners for men and women. The remaining four Freeride Series events in North America will be announced at a later date.

big mountain venue

Skiers take in the Santa Teresa venue in the Chilean Andes. PHOTO: Courtesy of Freeride Series

“It is great to see this stop take place in Chile once again,” explained Peter Leatherbe, El Colorado general manager. “It is a pleasure to open this out-of-bounds area of Santa Teresita. The special security measures applied by the event organizers combined with the serious preparation of the world’s best skiers make it possible to compete on this special venue safely.”

Registration for the The North Face Chilean Freeskiing Championships will go live on SubaruFreerideSeries.com on Tuesday, July 22 at 10 a.m. MST.

“It’s very fitting to kick off the 2014-15 Freeride Series in the world class terrain of El Colorado, which always promises to challenge the best of riders,” said Freeride Series Event Director Bryan Barlow. “Freeride’s growth in Chile is very apparent, and I can’t wait to see the local Chilean riders rise up to compete against some of the world’s best freeriders.”

In addition to podium awards, one skier at each event will be selected as the recipients of the Backcountry.com Sickbird award. This award is highly coveted by the big mountain freeride community and is granted to riders who challenge not only themselves but also the sport through their athletic performance.

For athlete information contact Julia Jimmerson, MSI athlete relations manager, at jjimmerson@mtsports.com or (801) 349-4616. A new website will be launched soon.

For media or general information contact Max Kuszaj, Freeride Series Chile media relations, at 801.244.7780 or skierinblack@gmail.com.

Chasing winter at Coronet Peak in Queenstown, New Zealand

Ski Gypsy Keri Reid tells us about skiing at Coronet Peak near Queenstown, New Zealand. Here’s her insider take from wanderlustandlickstick.com

“I still find myself explaining to people that summer in the Northern Hemisphere is winter in the Southern Hemisphere. For the skiing and snowboarding obsessed, it can be a truly magical discovery. Indeed, it’s true: in New Zealand (as in a number of other countries), it’s currently winter. Traveling between both hemispheres to experience cold climates again and again is known as chasing winter and it’s wonderful.

A couple posts back, I delved into the beauty and majesty of the Remarkables in Queenstown, New Zealand. Its sister mountain, Coronet Peak, lies just across the valley. On a clear day, I liked to think that my instructor friends could see me waving over at them from the Remarks (is there such a thing altitude insanity?).

Stunning views, modern base building, high-speed lifts and quality grooming only begin to describe The Peak. Similarly to The Remarkables, the mountain offers endless possibilities with it’s bare landscapeyou could quite frankly ski/board anywhere there’s snow. That being said, Coronet differs from The Remarks in a number of ways:

It offers a vast amount of night skiing over the weekends, adding to it this season with an additional 80 lights amounting to 4 kilometers of newly brightened terrain.

    • The access road is provides a far gentler journey. Completely paved, its a short 20 minutes from Queenstown.
    • It’s larger, but also busier. Crowds fill the main trails, especially over the holiday periods, making it a far more challenging experience for novice skiers.

In my experience, Coronet Peak takes the cake for families and skiers/riders that enjoy groomed runs. The facilities are well suited to serving large groups of people ranging from complete beginners to strong intermediate skiers. Experts may be able to get some thrills, namely in the back bowls, but there are certainly more exciting resorts in New Zealand.

Coming up on July 26th, the sister mountains will be hosting the annual Peak to Peak race; an exhilarating five part race that can be completed individually or as a team. Totalling an epic 44 kilometers, participants ski/board, run, paddle and bike their way to glory.

Australian Geographic lists best ski resorts down under

Interesting story in Australian Geographic:

“WHY HEAD OVERSEAS FOR an action packed winter getaway when some of the best slopes are right here on your doorstep? Save on flights, avoid the hassle, and kick-up some of Australia’s powder bowls for longer this winter.

Whether you’re about to embark on your first-ever ski experience or are a seasoned boarder – look no further, Australia has an alpine playground suited to you.

Ski and Snowboard Australia Chief Executive Officer Michael Kennedy says skiing in Australia beats its New Zealand counterpart hands down. “Skiing in New Zealand is completely overrated,” he says.

Staying local means you don’t have to battle long lines at the airport, he adds, or worry about baggage restrictions and more.  “There’s something very nice about jumping in the car and driving up to where you’re staying,” he says.

New Zealand has bigger mountains and more snow, but you’re not necessarily guaranteed a ski, Michael says. “People have expectations, and then because of the weather, they can’t get up the mountain at all.

And the cost of skiing in Australia isn’t much different from overseas. “A lot of noise is being made- but the industry is making an effort to provide better value for money. Resorts came out at the end of last season and promoted early bird passes and helped to generate some excitement,” Michael says.

Michael says Perisher will draw in the biggest crowd this season, and Mt Buller will continue to pull the Melbourne weekender market. Falls Creek is the place to go for families, says Michael, while Thredbo continues to provide a unique European village feel.

Read more about ski resorts in Australia

Miss Snow It All discusses privileged skier problems in Australia

Another fun story from Miss Snow It All in the Syndney Morning Herald:

Australia is in the middle of a snow rush. The double header snow storm that hit hard two weeks ago has been followed by another massive half-metre dump this week, with more predicted on Saturday.

Today is a bluebird powder day across Australia’s resorts. Let’s just say skiers, snowboarders and resorts are on a serious high champing-at-the-powder-bit to get first tracks and boast their luck on social media, to make the rest of us lament our non-powder lives.

But with every manic high their comes a low, a downer, a moment when it all gets too much and the toys get thrown out of the cot.

We call that ‘privileged skier problems’. Those moments when you can’t really believe what came out of your fellow skier or snowboarder’s mouth, or even your own.

Paid too much for your ski pass? #privilegedskierproblem At least you can afford a ski pass.

Lift line too long? #privilegedskierproblem You could be lining up for food stamps instead.

Today I am cursing my ill-timed trip to Falls Creek (at least I am going to Falls Creek, right?), arriving tonight, and therefore missing this morning’s bluebird powder day. If that’s the biggest problem in my life, then clearly I should cancel therapy.

In moments of exhaustion I have heard myself spitting chips that there’s no gluten-free to be had, like a crossfit addict deprived of kale. I have complained about the stampede of fellow skiers and boarders behind me as I try to get first tracks, and I have screamed blue murder at my choice to ski in a blinding wind blizzard storm.

Seriously? #privilegedskierproblem

Read more in PRIVILEGED.

Nearly a million expected for the Chile ski season

Chile expects more than 1 million skiers this year, here’s an interesting story from eturbonews.com

“Together with the Sub-Secretary of Tourism and Turismo Chile, we have put forth different actions abroad to strengthen our country as the leader of snow destinations within South America, hoping to achieve an increase of foreign visitors to choose Chile and enjoy its mountains. We have already received a great amount of snow in our ski centers, allowing us to be prepared to receive them,” commented Miguel Purcell, President of the Ski Association of Chile, about the country’s ski season.

The 2014 ski season kicked off in Chile with a ceremony at La Parva Ski Center, attended by the Sub-Secretary of Tourism, Javiera Montes; President of the Ski Association and CEO of Ski Portillo, Michael Purcell; and the CEOs of El Colorado, Peter Leatherbee; Valle Nevado, Ricardo Margulis; and La Parva, Thomas Grob.

“Chile offers a wide range of possibilities associated with winter sports tourism to attract national and foreign visitors,” said Sub-Secretary of Tourism Javiera Montes during the event.

“In the central region we have ski centers in the Metropolitan, Valparaiso and O´Higgins regions, and further south we have complete facilities in the Biobio, Araucania, Los Lagos, Aysen and Magallanes regions. We are estimating that our ski centers will receive 900,000 visitors this season, both domestic and international, of which between 600 and 700 thousand will be concentrated in the central region alone.”

Based on estimates from the Ski Association, members expect to receive a 15 percent increase in the number of tourists over the 2013 season, year on year. In order to provide higher quality conditions and an extended season, members have invested nearly 9.5 million dollars in infrastructure, maintenance and slope improvements.

Read more at CHILE.