Giro d'Italia and The Clouds of Sils Maria

Trento from summit of Monte Bondone - January 2014
Nothing much to report snow-wise from Australia and New Zealand. The waiting game is on!

IN the menatime ...

Cycling enthusiasts will be familiar with the Giro d'Italia, one of the three annual 3-weeks-long grand tours of cycling. The 2015 Giro is currently in its second week of racing.

Trento - January 2014
The Giro races all around Italy and it inevitably also visits many Italian ski mountains for tough and exciting hill-climb finishes.

This weekend, the Giro heads up into the Italian Dolomites from deep within the Veneto region.

The race on Sunday first skirts a few tiny ski stations around the Asiago area, then passes through the lovely city of Trento.

Madonna di Campiglio - January 2014
Trento is overlooked by the majestic Monte Bondone, which you can ski on during winter. There are half a dozen lifts and runs of varying difficulty, including one very long downhill run.

The race route runs along the flank of Monte Bondone but doesn't go up to the top. There should be some great camera shots around Trento though on the TV coverage.

The cyclists will then wind their way up the narrow valleys at the base of the Dolomiti di Brenta (the Western Dolomites).

The Sunday 25th May stage ends in beautiful Madonna di Campiglio, one of the biggest ski resorts in Italy.

This is truly a fantastic place. We skied there in January 2014 during a bumper snow year. My ski report from Italy and the Dolomites last year is linked here. I'd love to go back one day and spend more time there.

The next race stage after Madonna starts in Pinzolo, an alpine village which is now a part of the Madonna di Campiglio connected ski area.

From there the Tuesday stage travels on its way to another ski station - Aprica, The route also passes through the high-altitude ski area of Passo del Tonale.
Engadin valley with Sils Maria, the Silsersee and Maloja

The Giro then follows the Valtellina. This important glacial valley also has other ski resorts fringing it, north of Sondrio.

The next big glacial valley running west to east above here is actually in Switzerland, the spectacular Engadin.

In the Engadin is St Moritz. And Corvatsch is one of the St Moritz ski areas based at Sils im Engadin, and Sils Maria.

Sils Maria is where the critically acclaimed film, the Clouds of Sils Maria, is set.

To the west is the Maloja Pass, which takes you back down into Northern Italy to the top of Lake Como. The Giro will pass through that same point on the top of Lake Como as it heads from the Valtellina to Lugano.

Sauze d'Oulx - January 2006
Some days later the Giro will tackle the high Alps as a race stage finishes in Cervinia, near the French and Swiss border.

From Cervinia you can ski to Zermatt. The Alps here include some of the highest mountains in Europe including Monte Rosa and the Matterhorn.

The final alpine mountain finish will be at Sestriere on the French border in Piemonte.

The ski resorts here are all on one lift pass and are known as the Via Lattea (the Milky Way). As well as Sestriere, there is Sauze d'Oulx (we visited back in 2006) and Montgenevere.

A little further, just over the border in France, is Serre Chevalier.

In this incredible part of the world - art, travel, skiing and cycling can all interlink.


What's New at the Skifields - New Zealand & Australia 2015



Porters has installed a 4-seater Doppelmayr chairlift over the past few months and it will be ready for the new season. The new chairlift replaces T-bar 1 and is called Easy Rider. The slope underneath it will be renamed Easy Street and will no longer be dissected by the T-bar track.

The Easy Rider chairlift at Porters (Source: Porters)
Initially it will mean still having to take 3 lifts to get to the very top of the skifield, but the plan is to replace those with another chairlift - not sure when. What happened to the grand plan for a gondola and a village development?

Treble Cone

Treble Cone has developed its intermediate trails in the snow-sure Saddle Basin. A new groomed intermediate run, Side Saddle, will run parallel to Rafill's Run in an under-utilised area of the bowl.

Treble Cone has also widened the long and narrow Saddle Back trail and made the entry easier for intermediates. The various entrances to all these runs off the Upper High Street track have also been adjusted for 2015.

The Remarkables
Treble Cone 2015 Trail Map (Source: Treble Cone)

The Remarkables will have a brand new base building in 2015. The base area will also allow direct access from the car park to snow.

This is the second year to enjoy the new Curvey Basin chairlift at The Remarkables.

Mt Hutt

Mt Hutt will debut a new intermediate-advanced trail off the Virgin Mile this season. Typically the steep and fast Platter Splatter is groomed, and the various other named ways down into the bowl are not. However, in my ten years skiing there I have seen High Dive and Bob's Knob also groomed.

A new intermediate track below the lower half of Highway 72 will also give better skiers leaving the Towers area with a quicker way back to the base area avoiding beginners on Highway 72.

Rainbow (Source: Rainbow)

New snow-making pipes have been added at Rainbow, extending snow-making to the top of the ski area. They are ready to start snowmaking in June.


Mt Buller

Mt Buller has invested $500,000 in a new submersible pump which will increase snowmaking capacity. Eight additional fully automatic snowmaking guns are being installed on the southern side of Bourke Street, completing the automation of snowmaking in this area. The existing guns will be relocated to the south side of Baldy.

The Tirol T-Bar has been upgraded with the diesel motor replaced by an electric version. This should improve the reliability of this lift.


Skifield Planned Opening Dates 2015 - Australia & New Zealand


Australian ski resorts traditionally and officially open on the Queen's Birthday holiday weekend, which this year falls very early on the 6th June.

These days there are usually a few beginner runs open with manmade snow when there's little natural snow (which is quite typical) on the ground.

In 2014, there wasn't much terrain open until much later in June, but then almost all lifts were running by the first week of July. A great start! In 2013, we had to wait as long as until mid-July for most lifts to open. In 2012, a few lifts opened late in June again. The most reliable time for good snow cover and lots of terrain open is mid-July until late-August.


New Zealand skifields target planned opening dates based on typical, expected snow conditions. But the seasons are unpredictable and they may have to delay when conditions aren't suitable, i.e. not enough snow. This was notably the case last year.

North Canterbury and Nelson

Rainbow 4th July 2015 (opened mid-July in 2014)
Hanmer Springs late Jun/early July 2015 (opened mid-July in 2014)
Mt Lyford late June 2015 (opened 18th July in 2014)


Mt Hutt 12th June 2015 (opened on 13th June in 2014)
Porters 19th June 2015 (opened 6th July in 2014)

The Mackenzie

Ohau 27th June 2015 (opened mid-July in 2014)
Roundhill 27th June 2015 (opened mid-July in 2014)
Mt Dobson 4th July 205 (opened mid-July in 2014)


Treble Cone 25th June 2015 (opened mid-July in 2014)
Cardrona 13th June 2015 (opened on 20th June in 2014)


Coronet Peak 13th June 2015 (opened on 7th June in 2014)
The Remarkables 21st June 2015 (opened on 3rd July in 2014)