Martinské Hole is one of the first resorts open this winter.
Favourable mid-November weather conditions left some areas in the northern Slovak High Tatra mountains with more than 80 cm of snow. Temperatures at Lomnický Štít (the second highest Tatra peak at 2632 metres) has hit minus 20 C, allowing ski resort operators to use artificial snow machines with abandon. Even the Low Tatra mountains have opened up resorts, with the famous Martinské Hole attracting over 1,000 skiers from November 21 to 22.
Ján Gavalier, technical director of the First Tatranská company, which has already officially opened its High Tatra ski season, reported that "in the High Tatras area we have opened 23 ski-lifts with a capacity of 20,000 skiers per hour." If low temperatures continue, he said, the company will also open slopes at Štrbské Pleso, Ždiar and Nový Smokovec.
In comparison with last year's mild winter season, which left slopes bare and hotels empty, forecasters are calling for a deep-freeze in 1998-1999 in Slovakia. "While last year's season lasted only 15 days in the resort of Veľká Rača, causing us a big financial loss, this year looks promising", said Július Ganóczy, director of the Centre of Winter Sports in Oščadnica, northern Slovakia.
Anyone driving to a mountain resort is required to equip their cars with snow chains, a reasonable demand given the narrow and treacherous mountain ascents in Slovakia. Once there, skiers will enjoy some of the cheapest lift tickets and hotel accommodation to be found in alpine central Europe. High Tatra resorts charge 250 Sk ($6) for adult one-day ski-lift tickets, and 160 Sk for kids. Half-day tickets cost 160 Sk (morning) and 200 Sk (afternoon).
The best snow conditions are now at High Tatra resorts like Esíčko in Štrbské Pleso and Ždiar-Strednica. In the West Tatras, the best conditions can be found at Spálená and Zverovka in Roháče. Spálená's one-day ticket costs 300 Sk ($8) for adults and 200 Sk for children. The resort offers three 3 ski-lifts and a 50 cm snow base.
In Jasná, a Low Tatra resort, snow depths have not permitted slopes to open, but the resort owners plan to have 13 slopes in operation by mid-December
In Martinské Hole, in the nearby Malá Fatra, 4 slopes are open but the cablecar ski lift is still closed because it is under repair.
For those unable to leave the capital, Bratislava has its own Small Carpathians 'ski report' known as Kamzík (just look for the television tower above the city). Although not open yet, Kamžík will charge visitors 180 Sk per day, while kids can ski for 50 Sk per hour.
Night skiing can be enjoyed for 100 Sk on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 18:00 to 20:00 and Fridays from 18:00 to 21:00. The ski-lifts will run daily from 09:00 to 17:00.
The hill will be artificially snowed, while instructors will hold a weekday ski school for 4-6 year old children.