The 1st Non-Glacial Northern Hemisphere Resorts Will Open in 7 Days

SnowBrains | | Industry NewsIndustry News
ruka, Finland, Europe, first open
Ruka, Finland. Credit: Ruka Facebook

Summer is over, and fall is here. The days are getting shorter, the temperatures are finally dropping, and the leaves are turning.

“Winter is coming.” In Finland. Levi, the nation’s largest ski area, and Ruka, another one of the largest, both plan to open on October 6th, 2023, the first non-glacial resorts in the northern hemisphere to do so. That’s one week away.

“We are back on snow when first ski lifts and slopes open on 6th of October 2023.”

Ruka ski area

“In Levi, we are taking a little sneak peek into the winter with the help of preserved snow, as Levi’s ski and cross-country skiing season starts with preserved snow already on the 6th of October 2023! At the same time, the opening of the skiing and cross-country skiing season starts the entire range of amazing early winter events. Levi Glacier slope and early season park open on the Front Slopes and next to Levi Golf opens a free cross-country ski track with preserved snow.”

Levi ski area

Levi announced this morning that the huge undertaking of spreading out its stored snow begins today (Friday, September 29th, 2023) and has provided a live feed for you to watch its progress.

This Friday, a monumental task begins as we need to distribute 130,000 m³ of stored snow on the Front Slope for opening day! We also have a new live feed where you can follow the exciting project 🙌 Come see how our snowy undertaking is going: 🍿

Ruka Snow Farming up close
The Snow Farming process up-close. Image: Ruka Facebook

In order to open early, the “two resorts use snow farming – saving piles of snow collected last spring under insulating covers.” The Process of Snow Farming can save up to 75% of the snow from the season before. With the continued threat of climate change, snow farming provides a viable safety net for resorts. Often, the holiday period is the most lucrative period for resorts, and having limited terrain can negatively impact the guest experience.  Using snow farming can negate these impacts regardless of the weather. Technologies like snowmaking are great when the weather is cold. However, snow farming allows resorts to have snow when snowmaking temperatures are not possible. Resorts like Ruka can open regardless of the temperature.

Whistler and other resorts in Europe have begun to use snow farming or covering of glaciers in order to prolong, or in this case, provide an early start. As resorts are affected by climate change, dryer seasons, and earlier closing dates, nations and their ski areas will need to become more creative. Courchevel now uses the same technique in France and Kitzbühel in the Austrian Tirol, which is normally the first location in the Alps to open without a glacier.

The “Race To Open” in North America has been won by various resorts around the country, from Colorado to Minnesota. Perpetually, some of the first to open in the United States are A-Basin and Loveland in Colorado. Unlike Ruka, these resorts rely on cold temperatures, so snowmaking can be possible in late September and October.  In 2019, A-Basin opened on October 12. It will be interesting to see how they compare to Ruka this year.

So get ready. Do your snow dances and keep an eye on the skies. North America won’t be far behind…

“Everything is good with the canned snow in Saarua for the opening of the winter season!” – Ruka, September 4th, 2023.

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