Glacier watch: 15 September

15th September 2011, by Chris Gill

Sunny September in Pitztal

Sunny September in Pitztal

According to the snow information site,, the number of glaciers open for summer skiing in September could be the lowest for 40 years. September isn’t traditionally a great summer-ski month though, with only a handful of resorts offering year-round snow sports (eg Zermatt and Hintertux). But it’s true that the weather has not delivered huge snowfall recently – and some areas that plan to reopen in September may be delaying, or opening with poor conditions.

Best off lacing up your walking boots instead, and enjoying the early autumn sunshine and colours. September can be a great time to visit the mountains: many of the summer crowds have gone, the days a bit cooler and the changing colours with a sprinkling of fresh snow a delight.

But if you’re determined to ski a little, current reports suggest six areas open for business: Zermatt and Saas fee in Switzerland; Molltal and Hintertux in Austria and Val Senales and Passo Stelvio in Italy.


In Austria, the Hintertux glacier is holding out well with 18km runs still open. Further east in Carinthia, the Mölltal glacier (50cm) has three lifts and just 9km terrain open. Those resorts set to join them later this month are keeping a close eye on conditions.

Pitztal is now hoping for a 24 September opening, delayed following the recent warm and poor weather – which has also made work on the new gondola very difficult. The new eight-seat Wildspitzbahn is due for completion in the autumn 2012, and will carry skiers to the high point at 3,440m. A new cafe is also planned at the top station.


There are no summer ski areas open in France at present, although Tignes is expecting to reopen next month. Les Deux Alpes resumes snow sports temporarily in October, for the half term holiday and ski testing festivals. And autumn ski performance courses are filling up fast for November. Check out Ski Inspired for 25-28 November course, with fees starting at £225.


Conditions are similar in Italy, with just Val Senales and Passo Stelvio (summer only area) still open for business. But snow depths are poor and there is little to tempt the summer visitor at the moment, unless you happen to be staying in the area and fancy a few short turns. October is when Cervinia is planning to reopen access to the shared glacier slopes with Zermatt.


Zermatt and Saas Fee are both offering snow sports. But again, snow depths are very low, with Zermatt reporting only 20cm and fair weather forecast. The last snowfall there was on 20 July. Saas Fee is faring a little better with 51cm, and a light dusting of new snow on 12 September. Depths such as these are below average, even at the end of the summer months.

Meanwhile, parts of North America have seen their first dustings of snow on the mountains – for many, their summer season has been much shorter this year after an extended winter season. So, could La Nina strike again? Some are predicting ‘yes’; but we’ll see …

In the south the season has moved spring-wards, but there continues to be regular snowfalls in Australia and New Zealand. Australia has enjoyed a good winter, particularly early on. It looks pretty wintry judging by Mt Hutt’s web cam today (15 September), with more snow falling. Snow depths in Chile and Argentina are good too. Argentina’s slow start was boosted by better snowfall mid-season and Cathedral is reporting a two-metre snow base now – which our recent blogger confirms has been great!

Not spring yet in Mt Hutt, NZ ….

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