Late snows elsewhere frustrate ski fields

While a snowfall late last week meant some club fields were able to open in North Canterbury, South Canterbury fields have seen little of the white stuff this disappointing season.

Tasman Glacier in Aoraki/Mount Cook was the exception, recording 20cm of new snow last week.

Dobson Skifield owner/operator Peter Foote said there had been no new snow in the weekend, but the field "did get a dusting on Friday night".

"We've still got pretty good skiing on the main runs and had about 500 people . . . It was a good weekend and a good crowd but confined to the main runs. It would be nice to have snow."

Fox Peak skifield has not opened yet due to lack of snow, while Ohau Skifield recorded 7cm of new snow on Friday night and Roundhill receiving 5cm on Wednesday night.

Temple Basin, the club field, near Arthur's Pass, opened on Saturday for the first time this year, with up to 3m of snow in some places.

"It's awesome, there's lot of cold, fluffy powder. We're skiing the whole mountain," Temple Basin mountain manager Charlotte Berry said yesterday.

A lack of snow, warm temperatures and high winds have prevented the field and many others from opening sooner. They would usually open in July.

Berry said Temple Basin was benefiting from being one of the few club fields open, after 246 skiers visited the mountain on its opening day.

It was the most skiers the field has had on any one day in at least four years.

Mt Cheeseman, near Castle Hill, also opened yesterday for the first time this season.

Mountain manager Cam Lill said the field had about 20cm at the base and about 50cm on the upper runs, which was the minimum it could operate at.

"We're one of the few fields open on purely natural snow," he said.

While Temple Basin and Mt Cheeseman received enough snow last week to open, many other fields are still waiting for another snow storm.

Broken River needs just one more snowfall to open, marketing officer Claire Newell said.

She could not remember the last time the club was still closed in early August. The club had to cancel a week-long ski event for about 40 people this week.

Mt Olympus needed another 25cm before it could open, committee member Alister Clinton said.

The club had been forced to cancel five weeks of bookings in its newly upgraded and expanded 52-bed lodge. The lodge had been fully booked for at least three weeks.

Clinton said he hoped the next snowfall would bring enough to enable the field to open later this week.

The Timaru Herald