Not ”a single snowflake” of natural snow graces Coronet Peak, which reopens tomorrow after a 16-day hiatus.
Skifield boss Ross Copland says it’s only possible because of a snow-making system that had converted 51 million litres of water into snow during that time.
There was now 10-15cm of “nice chalky snow” on the lower slopes and 30-40cm on the upper mountain.
Copland says he’s “really, really stoked” after a challenging couple of weeks, while staff were relieved operations would return to normal.
The opening will coincide with the start of the school holidays.
The ski area opened on June 11, but closed 12 days later after warm temperatures and rain stripped it of snow.
Niwa principal scientist forecasting Chris Brandolino says Queenstown experienced its warmest mean maximum temperature on record last month, 2degC above normal.
It had also been the third-warmest June on record for the country as a whole.
Copland says heavy snow forecast for next Tuesday and Wednesday would take the pressure off.
Although the closure would take a chunk out of Coronet Peak’s usual 112 to 116-day season, it was “not a total write-off”.
“It has put a big dent into our start, but hopefully the people who missed out in the past fortnight will ski more often during the rest of the season.”
The opening would also “spread the load” with sister skifield The Remarkables, which has been coping with capacity crowds for more than a week with the help of more than 100 Coronet Peak staff.
Coronet Peak will open at 8am tomorrow for First Tracks pass holders and remain open until 9pm for night skiing.
Two of its three chairlifts – Coronet Express and Meadow Express – will run for skiers and snowboarders, while all learner conveyors will operate.
The Greengates Express chairlift will run for sightseeing and snow tubing only.
On the other side of the Crown Range, there is a strong likelihood that Treble Cone Ski Area will remain closed tomorrow because of a lack of snow, putting pressure on Cardrona Alpine Resort to cope with Wanaka’s school holiday rush.
Otago Daily Times