If nature doesn't provide it, we will.
That seems to be the motto for the NSW ski industry this year, with major resorts ploughing millions of dollars into snowmaking during the off-season.
Perisher Blue has spent almost $10 million to make sure the 2008 season starting in June is as white as can be.
Perisher has added 34 new automated guns, bringing the number in service to 188, and increasing its snowmaking coverage by 10 per cent to almost 44 hectares.
Thredbo now boasts 65 hectares under snowmaking after a further $1.5 million investment, the third part of a project which has tripled snow gun coverage.
Both major resorts are also offering seasonal specials, with Perisher freezing its early bird season passes at 2007 prices: $1,039 for adults and $571 for children.
Thredbo has early and late season specials on multi-day lift tickets, making an adult two-day pass in June or late September $129.
Mt Selwyn is promoting a five-day midweek special with savings of $94 per adult and $53 per child during high season, excluding the NSW July school holidays.
This is what to look forward to in the Snowy Mountains in 2008:
Australia's biggest ski resort, created by the merger of four resorts into one. It features an extensive investment in snow making and grooming and a lift capacity to rival many resorts in the US and Europe. The new Perisher Village development has been approved by the NSW government, with construction expected to start in the summer of 2008-9.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2008:
- A further $9.75 million investment in snowmaking, extending the $3.6 million spent in 2007. This includes 34 new automated snow guns, adding to the 154 existing guns. In total, there will be 3.5 hectares of new snowmaking coverage, on top of the current 40 hectares, covering high traffic areas from Mid Station of the Forester Quad Express down to Front Valley.
- To assist first timers, a new $100,000 ski carpet will be introduced at Smiggin Holes.
- $140,000 will be invested on additional slope grooming and snow fencing.
- A Pisten Bully 600 groomer will be added to the grooming fleet.
- Guest information screens will be added in public areas to give visitors access to up to minute information.
- New Snowcams will be included on Perisher Blue's website.
- $10,000 invested on new features in Perisher Blue's terrain parks.
- Early Bird Season Passes frozen at 2007 prices: $1,039 for adults and $571 for children, giving unlimited mountain access all season long.
OFF PISTE ACTIVITIES: Numerous night clubs, bars and restaurants, groomer tours, Nordic show shoeing, tubing, night skiing Tuesdays and Saturdays.
LOCATION: Six hours by road from Sydney or seven hours from Melbourne. Less than three from Canberra. Cooma airport is 45 kms from Jindabyne, Perisher's nearest town.
ACCOMMODATION: The Perisher Valley Hotel is the most up-market of some two dozen commercial hotels and lodges on the snow, and located in position A at the base of the lift system. There are also numerous private club lodges. The major alternative is to sleep at Jindabyne, and do the half-hour daily commute. Jindabyne has scores of lakeside apartments and houses for rental.
Village altitudes: Perisher Valley 1,720m, Smiggin Holes 1,680m, Guthega 1640m, Blue Cow Terminal 1,890m.
Lifts: 50, including one eight-seat high speed chair, six quad chairs, four double chairs, two triples, 21 T -Bars, four J-Bars, four ski carpets.
Highest lifted point: Mt Perisher double chair 2,034m.
Lift capacity: 52,903 skiers per hour.
Terrain: Beginner 22 per cent, Intermediate 60 per cent, Advanced 18 per cent.
Skiable Area: 1245ha.
Vertical descent: 355m.
Longest run: three kms.
Terrain Parks: four.
Cross-country: over 100kms of marked trails.
Snow making: 40 hectares, 154 snow guns.
Grooming Machines: 19
Average maximum snow depth: 1.9m.
Fine weather days during winter: 70 per cent.
MORE INFORMATION: http://www.perisherblue.com.au
Thredbo Village, set within Kosciuszko National Park, is one of Australia's highest alpine towns, up to 1,930 metres above sea level, and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2007. The village is famous for its cosmopolitan, European style atmosphere and the slopes for their long runs and vast vertical descent.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2008:
- Snowmaking: a further $1.5 million upgrade, bringing to $6 million the amount spent on automation in three stages. Snowmaking now covers 65 hectares, including trails for all levels. This year $1.5 million was spent on adding snowmaking to the World Cup run parallel to the Supertrail. The project has almost tripled the amount of snow that can be produced over pre-automated days, with 155 guns on-line at any one time.
- New $500,000 snow groomer, a Kassbohrer 600 winch cat with emission control which the resort says makes it "very green".
- Multi-day lift ticket discounts in June, no matter how much snow or how many lifts are open. Same rates to apply in springtime, from September 15. For example a two-day adult lift pass will be $129.
- Three new webcams, making a total of eight.
- Property news: almost $27 million worth of real estate changed hands in 2007. Work is underway on redeveloping an old Thredbo favourite, New Kirk Lodge. Club lodges Golden Eagle and Kiama have also undertaken extensions, alterations and refurbishment.
- $500,000 invested in new rental clothing, ski and snowboard equipment.
OFF PISTE ACTIVITIES: Mountain biking, scenic walks, free night skiing twice weekly, snowshoeing, snow climbing, snow camping, squash, indoor swimming, mini golf, vast range of wining and dining options.
LOCATION: Six to seven hours (500 kms) by road from both Sydney and Melbourne, and 2.5 hours from Canberra. Cooma airport is an hour away by road. Thredbo has over 2,500 car park spaces available with both day and overnight parking.
ACCOMMODATION: Capacity of 4,000 people ranging from a youth hostel, B and Bs and club lodges to hotels, motels, apartments, chalets and four star hotel.
Skiable area: 480 hectares
Vertical drop: 672 metres
Base elevation: 1365 metres
Summit Elevation: 2037 metres
Terrain: Beginner/novice 16 per cent, Intermediate 67 per cent, Advanced/expert 17 per cent.
Longest run: 5.9 kms (Karels T-bar to Friday Flat).
Lifts: 14, including Kosciuszko Express bottom to top in seven minutes.
Average snowfall: 203cm
Snowmaking: 25 per cent of the resort.
MORE INFORMATION: http://www.thredbo.com.au
One of the smaller resorts, with a capacity of around 600 people, which prides itself on the absence of cars, buses and long lift queues. Access is by snow cat from Perisher Valley. At 1,760 metres, it is the highest resort in Australia and therefore apt to attract snow. With almost all the skiable terrain in one bowl, it's easier for parents to keep an eye on their kids.
LOCATION: Six hours by road from Sydney and seven from Melbourne. Access takes 25 minutes by snow cat from Perisher Valley.
ACCOMMODATION: The Bavarian-style Kosciuszko Chalet, with its distinctive dome, is the centre of the small village, but there are also a dozen lodges.
OFF PISTE: The Chalet has cosy lounges, blazing log fires, two bars, a cafe, kids club, live entertainment, restaurant, gift shop, general store and massage therapist. Night skiing twice weekly.
Village population: 607 guests (max)
Village Base: 1765m
Highest lifted point: 1954m
Vertical drop: 189m
Average fine days: 75 per cent
Average snowfall: 1.8m
Skiable area: 50ha
Groomed area 40ha
Lifts: four (plus portable tow rope)
Terrain: 10 per cent Easy, 80 per cent Intermediate, 10 per cent Advanced
MORE INFORMATION: www.charlottepass.com.au
An ideal spot for learners where skiing is at its most affordable. Why pay the ticket prices of the big resorts when you can't ski on half the terrain? Selwyn can cater for up to 2,000 people per day, and offers food and retail outlets, equipment and clothing hire, and ski school.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2008:
- The biggest promotion is a Peak Midweek Special, offering early and late season prices for five-day midweek passes during high season, excluding NSW July school holidays. Savings of $94 per adult and $53 per child.
- Early bird special - Free lessons for those booking and paying for a holiday before May 31.
- Savings of 50 per cent off the cost of lift tickets for those booking in June or September in conjunction with ski hire.
- Buy a five-day lift ticket or lift-and-lesson package and get a sixth day free.
OTHER ACTIVITIES: Two snow tube parks are both serviced by lifts. There is also a toboggan park (without lift). Also snowshoeing and snow biking.
LOCATION: A comfortable 2.5 hour drive from Canberra, 5.5 hours from Sydney or 6.5 hours from Melbourne. Turn off at Cooma.
ACCOMMODATION: No accommodation on the mountain, so most visitors stay in the nearby townships of Adaminaby or Talbingo, 30 to 40 minutes drive away.
Skiable area: 45 hectares
Terrain: Easiest 40 per cent, More Difficult 48 per cent, Most Difficult 12 per cent.
Lifts: 10 plus 2 snow tube lifts
Highest elevation: 1614m
Lowest elevation: 1492m
Lifting capacity: 9500 people per hour
Snow making: 35 hectares
Cross country skiing: 45kms of marked trails ranging from 2.5 to 15 kms.
MORE INFORMATION: http://www.selwynsnow.com.au