Ski all day, party all night at Thredbo in New South Wales

 Here’s another good description by Flip Byrnes in Australian Traveller:

Thredbo: Split personality

Best for: Skiing all day, partying (in ski boots) all night.

In a nutshell: In an admittedly unusual analogy, Thredbo is like a mullet: all business in the front and party in the back. Located in a valley, one side is the slopeside; deep and steep with 14 lifts in over 480 hectares; while the other is the village, where lodges cling to the switchback road, and over 30 bars and restaurants see the schnapps flow like water.

But that’s where the analogy ends, for this resort is as chic and stylish as the Sydneysiders who go there. Outside ofVictoria, this is the only resort boasting a true in-resort village, and there’s nothing like staying where you’re playing. The perennial party lasting from June to September is a winner for big kids; Thredboland and the Mission Inflatable pool obstacle course a hit for little kids. And the terrain is full of nooks, crannies and natural features to explore.

Underrated run: Point your ski tips towards Golf Course Bowl for fresh snow. If not adverse to earning turns, Thredbo’s Dead Horse Gap is back-country intermediate and advanced bliss. Access is from the top of Karel’s T-bar, requiring a car convoy to return to Thredbo.

Best spot for an après: The Bistro is the obvious choice (02 6459 4200), but follow the ski instructors to the Black Bear Inn for schnapps in a Bavarian atmosphere. (blackbearinn.com.au) Or head down during ‘Cliquot in the Snow’, a week-long party, 29 July–4th August.

Local tip: Pay the National Park’s fee at the park entry gate. It results in 90% of the cost going towards the parks – as opposed to 30% if bought elsewhere.

More info: thredbo.com.au

Freestyle paradise found at Perisher in New South Wales, Australia

I’ve never been skiing in Australia, but I knew they get snow. So I’m checking out stories by Aussie writers to learn more. Here’s a good description by Flip Byrnes in Australian Traveller:

If you haven’t been to the New South Wales ski fields lately, prepare yourself for a surprise because they have been evolving. Flip Byrnes finds out which one is best for you.

Perisher: Freestyle Paradise

Best for: Everyone – with room to move.

In a nutshell: Perisher is bigger than Ben Hur and bigger IS better. The linked areas of Guthega, Blue Cow, Perisher and Smiggins Hole create 1245 hectares of riding accessed by 47 lifts. With statistics like these, it’s no wonder winter Olympic athletes call Perisher home (gold medallist Torah Bright and former world snowboarding champions Holly Crawford and Nate Johnstone are Perisher alumni), while the five terrain parks, Rider X course and Superpipe draw freestylers from around the globe.

But even if throwing down corkscrew 580s isn’t your thing, the many pockets of the resort offer something for all, from the beginner’s Magic Carpet at Perisher to double black Devil’s Playground at Blue Cow. Perisher misses the magic of the village atmosphere of Thredbo or Victorian resorts, but if it’s downhill you want, it’s downhill they’ve got.

Underrated run: Anywhere in Guthega, the over-looked, far-flung corner of the resort. The sheltered, tree-lined runs are tranquil even on the busiest days, and on a powder day, this is the place to be. Refuel at the Burning Log Restaurant (02 6459 4692) with Main Range views.

Best spot for an après: By the fireplace at the Perisher Valley Hotel (with free wi-fi).

Local tip: The Station in nearby Jindabyne offers killer lift, accommodation and meal packages. (perisher.com.au/the-station) Pause pre-ski at Sundance Bakehouse in Jindabyne (02 6456 2951) – all goods are baked on premises and they open from 6:00am.

More info: perisher.com.au

Argentina’s Los Lenas the most challenging ski resort in South America

love2fly.iberia.com has some great summary of skiing in Argentina. Here’s another resort there:  

Las Leñas, Argentina

A thousand kilometres north of Bariloche, in the western reaches of Mendoza province, the also large Las Leñas, dating from 1983, can at times be the most challenging ski resort in South America.

But that depends on the weather and whether a particular lift is open or closed. Provided there’s stable snow and not too much wind to open the avalanche-prone Marte chair, then expert skiers and snowboarders are in for a real treat.

The lift provides the only mechanised access to some extraordinary off-piste, with plunging powder bowls and narrow couloirs.  The area is dotted with cliffs and, again, exposed to the possibility of avalanches, so it’s the kind of place where a local guide is absolutely essential.

When the Marte chair is closed, Las Leñas amounts to an enjoyable but perhaps slightly bland Andean resort – a treeless wilderness a 90-minute flight from Buenos Aires to Malargue, followed by an hourlong bus ride; there are no cities or towns in the area but some robust nightlife nonetheless.

All the accommodation here is in hotels and lodges within a short distance of a lift. The Hotel Virgo & Spa is the most comfortable place to stay, with an in-house cinema and a kids club.

Skiing in Argentina can be a sweet experience in San Carlos de Bariloche

Hey, you don’t have to wait until fall to go skiing. Just jump on a jet and head to the southern hemisphere, where winter is just beginning and the ski resorts are opening for their season.

Here’s some good information from love2fly.iberia.com:

The South America skiing season in Argentina and Chile runs from June through October, with skiing for all levels, modern lifts, some great off-piste skiing, quirky resorts and eclectic hotels. Stir in a day or two of wine-tasting at one of the outstanding wineries close to Santiago, or an evening beef-eating and tango in Buenos Aries, and you have the perfecto South America ski holiday!

L2F Jun Argentina skiing Bariloche WikipediaBariloche, Argentina

Argentina has more than a dozen snow resorts scattered around the Andes, with resorts near Mendoza, the Lake District and Patagonia in the south, and Ushuaia further south. But Bariloche (top and right) is the biggest and best known in the country, and indeed, the most prominent on the continent.

Down in Patagonia, some 17 to 20 hours by road and a 2-hour flight from Buenos Aires, San Carlos de Bariloche is a pretty, Teutonic-flavoured city not far from the Chilean border. The main ski station here, Cerro Catedral, has a modern system of 39 lifts, mainly intermediate slopes, lots of off-piste, and a vertical drop of 1,070 m (3,512 ft.).

Bariloche also happens to be Argentina’s chocolate capital (because of all its German and Austrian immigrants) and I’d highly recommend a visit to the Fenoglio Museum of Chocolate and a sweet browse along the chocolate shops of Calle Mitre, the main drag. You can stay at the Knapp Hotel, which is right by the lifts and has an in-house chocolate shop. 

Snowpocalypse gives ski resorts down under an early start

Sounds like our friends south of the equator are getting a ton of snow for an early beginning to the ski season in Australia.

Here’s a story from the Melbourne Herald Sun:

IT’S here. The megablizzard. Snowpocalypse now. This baby has been on the weather charts all week and it’s howling its way through the Australian Alps as you read this.

Experienced weather watchers are calling it the storm of the century. They’re saying it could snow on and off, but mostly on, for the next 10 days.

And now the megablizzard has arrived. The NSW resorts of Thredbo and Perisher received 40cm and 50cm respectively overnight. Hotham, Falls Creek and Mt Buller (pictured below) in Victoria all reported similar totals.

A spokesman for Thredbo confirmed to news.com.au that as of about 3.30pm, 80cm of snow had now fallen in the past 24 hours.

“It’s an incredible amount for June, I’m not sure it’s a record, but it has set us up for the rest of the season,” he said.

Check out their video and photos at MEGABLIZZARD.

Check out the best ski resorts in Australia and New Zealand

When we visited Queensland, New Zealand, we missed the end of the ski season by only 1 day. And they wouldn’t fire up the lifts for a couple late Americans. Oh well!

If you’re in New Zealand or Australia for their new ski season just beginning, be sure to check out their ski resorts.

Here’s a nice compilation by On The Snow.

Coronet Peak is the most popular ski resort on the South Island of New Zealand, in part due to its proximity to Queenstown—20 minutes away. From the summit, look left to see Gondor from the movie, The Lord of the Rings. The varied terrain offers something for everyone: beginners and intermediates have wide blue and red runs, while more advanced skiers can hit the terrain park or test their stamina on the longest run, the “M-1,” stretching 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles). The resort is known for its efficient high-speed chairlifts. The peak is one of the last ski fields to lose its snow, hence the season typically runs from early June to mid October.

When to go: Early June to mid October

Terrain: 690 acres: beginners 25 percent, intermediates 45 percent, advanced 30 percent (includes back bowls)

Lifts: One high-speed six seater, two express quads, one T-Bar and four surface conveyor lifts

Longest run: M1—1.5 miles

Après ski: Fully-licensed restaurant plus bar and cafe with sun deck at the sub-station.

Resort facilities: Snowsports school, ski and snowboard rental shop, ski retail outlet, licensed day care center and children’s programs, first aid and emergency services.

Ski pass prices: Daily lift tickets cost $97 (NZD)

Transportation: Snowline Express costs $15 and return from Queenstown Snow Centre, departs every 20 minutes during peak times with pick-ups at designated stops where space is available. Snowline Hotel Pick is $30 (Adult), $20 (Youth 17 & under) per person for a return trip. Prebook your seat by 9 p.m. the night before. Pick-ups from designated Queenstown accommodation providers.

For the top four resorts in Australia and New Zealand, see their report.

#Winter2014: Colorado skier visits surge to 12.6 million, a new record

During the past winter, Vail and other Colorado resorts welcomed more skiers and snowboarders than ever, thanks, in part, to disappointing snowfall at resorts in California. (Photo By Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

During the past winter, Vail and other Colorado resorts welcomed more skiers and snowboarders than ever, at least in part due to disappointing snowfall at resorts in California. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

By Jason Blevins
The Denver Post

Colorado ski resorts broke a visitation record in 2013-14, thanks to an early start, a late finish, a drought in California and, of course, steady snowfall all season.

The state’s 25 ski areas logged 12.6 million visits, up 10 percent from last year — the strongest year-over-year surge in recent history and an 8 percent increase over the five-year average. The 2013-14 season is now the benchmark, unseating the 12.56 million high set in 2006-07.

“It’s been eight years and a Great Recession since the last new visitation record, and that feels great,” said Melanie Mills, president of resort trade group Colorado Ski County USA, which announced the season’s visitation at its 51st annual meeting at Copper Mountain.

Visitation was up across all categories, with the number of out-of-state skiers growing alongside international visitors and pass-wielding locals.

While California skiers have long ranked as a top market for Colorado resorts, the snow-gobbling drought there fueled a double-digit percentage increase in Californians on Colorado ski slopes this season.

Colorado resort leaders never wish a decimating season on their peers from other states, but there’s hope the 2013-14 season might turn some California skiers on to Colorado.

“We think that all those visitors that came to Colorado had a great experience,” Mills said, “and we think that gives us an opportunity to get them back.”

Colorado Ski Country’s 21 member resorts saw 7.1 million visits in 2013-14. Vail Resorts’ Vail, Breckenridge, Beaver Creek and Keystone ski areas drew 5.5 million visits.

Vail, the nation’s largest resort operator, last month reported solid growth in the 2013-14 season, despite poor performance at its California resorts, with visitor spending reaching near-records on increases in lessons, lift tickets, dining and retail.

Colorado’s ski communities reported strong spending during the season as well, with many resorts — like Vail, Aspen, Breckenridge and Telluride — posting record sales-tax revenues for the ski season.

Mills said member ski resorts enjoyed similar boosts in spending.

“A number of member resorts had a record year (for revenues), and everybody had a strong year,” she said. “It was the perfect snowstorm this year, with a snow message that started early and it was authentic … we just had snow every month.”

Monarch ski area saw a record 190,000 visits, up from 168,000 the previous year, spokesman Greg Ralph said. The Chaffee County hill harvested record revenues too, Ralph said.

Aspen Skiing Co.’s four Roaring Fork Valley ski areas posted the highest visitation since 1997-98, company spokesman Jeff Hanle said. Lodges in both Aspen and Snowmass saw highest-ever occupancy in March, with the season falling just shy of the all-time occupancy record set in 2006-07, said Bill Tomcich, president of Stay Aspen Snowmass, the reservation hub that books lodging across the valley.

“We had a really good start and an incredible finish,” Tomcich said.

Colorado’s skier visitation growth bested the 6.4 percent annual increase for the Rocky Mountain region, which includes resorts in Utah, Montana and New Mexico.

The snow was a blessing, and the international media’s sensationalized focus on Colorado when the state legalized recreational marijuana in January certainly helped.

Mills called legalized marijuana “the PR event of the year and the operational nonevent of the year,” meaning resorts barely noticed the new laws but welcomed the attention.

“From a PR perspective,” Mills said, “we did not view it as a negative that everyone was talking about Colorado as of January first.”

Jason Blevins: 303-954-1374, jblevins@denverpost.com or twitter.com/jasonblevins

#Winter2014: Skiing, snowboarding at Homewood Mountain Resort

Homewood Mountain Resort has 64 runs and spectacular views of the Lake Tahoe basin from each one of them. (Photo courtesy Homewood Mountain Resort)

Homewood Mountain Resort has 64 runs and spectacular views of the Lake Tahoe basin from each one of them. (Photo courtesy Homewood Mountain Resort)

Continuing our look back at the winter that was, it’s time to visit Homewood Mountain Resort near the west shore of Lake Tahoe.

Season start/finish: Dec. 11, 2013, through March 23, 2014. The opening date was typical of past seasons, and the closing date was two to three weeks than was planned.

Snowfall: Well short of the typical 450 inches per season, although figures were not provided. Snowmaking made up some of the difference.

Season highlight: A series of big winter storms arrived just before the President’s Day holiday weekend and the mid-winter break for many schools in Northern California. “The conditions were the best they had been all season during what is typically a very busy weekend/week for us,” said Paul Raymore, resort spokesman. “At that point, every skier and snowboarder in Northern California had been ‘jonesing’ for fresh powder for months, so it was fantastic to be able to finally offer some when many had time off work or school.”

Comment:The lack of our typical abundance of natural snow in Tahoe certainly made the 2013-14 ski season a challenging one; however, that’s not to say it wasn’t a fun year,” Raymore said. “Savvy Lake Tahoe skiers and snowboarders, who knew where to look to find the best conditions, were still able to find great snow at the smaller resorts such as Homewood, where the lack of crowds really helped to preserve the snow on the mountains.”

Looking ahead: Homewood has major changes planned for the 2015-16 ski season, with a wholesale redevelopment of the resort scheduled to begin in summer 2015. Improvements will include a new high-speed gondola taking skiers to mid-mountain, a new 5-star hotel at the base of the mountain, new skier services buildings and amenities, as well as construction of a number of residences at both of the base areas. Information about the Homewood Master Plan is at www.SkiHomewood.com/MasterPlan

#Winter2014 recap: Skiing, snowboarding at Bear Mountain and Snow Summit

OK, we know that winter 2014 was a bummer of a snow season, but we’re going to take a look back anyway with dispatches from many of California’s ski and snowboard resorts – starting today with Bear Mountain and Snow Summit.

Season start/finish: Bear Mountain, Nov. 27-March 30; Snow Summit, Dec. 6-March 17.

Snowfall: 20-30 inches at each resort; the season average is 75 to 100 inches.

Comment: Despite a shorter season and lack of natural snowfall, we’re very proud of what we were able to accomplish for the 2013-14 season at Bear Mountain and Snow Summit,” said Chris Riddle, vice president of marketing for Big Bear Mountain Resorts. “Each year we strive to provide the very best conditions, and this year was no different. Thanks to our advanced snowmaking system and our dedicated park crew, we were able to offer some of the greatest skiing and snowboarding in California – especially earlier in the season. We were able to successfully keep open the vast majority of our runs, with some of the very best conditions in the state. It was a great achievement for us.”

Looking ahead: Big Bear Mountain Resorts will be reducing the price of all passes for the 2014-15 winter season, with savings up to $110 from last winter’s rates. Dual-mountain pass holders will have unlimited access to 26 lifts, 438 developed acres and more than 55 runs.

Media: Here are video highlights from the slopes at each resort. First, Bear Mountain. >>>

Now it’s Snow Summit’s turn. >>>

At Mammoth Mountain, a parting shot to the ski and snowboard season

OK, everyone, say "cheese!" This was the scene at Mammoth Mountain on Memorial Day, the day of skiing and snowboarding this season at the resort. (Mammoth Mountain photo)

OK, everyone, say “cheese!” … This was the scene at Mammoth Mountain on Memorial Day, the last day of skiing and snowboarding at the resort for the season. (Mammoth Mountain photo)

At Mammoth Mountain, skiers and snowboarders bid farewell to the 2013-14 snow season with a group shot on Memorial Day. … We’ll recap the season at Mammoth and many of the other California resorts shortly. Stay tuned.