Warm, isn’t it?
Well, it’s not going to stay that way much longer – in the Alps at least. Here’s the snow forecast for the Alps for Thursday.
It looks as though the storm will get going on Thursday afternoon and continue into Friday, and parts of the Tirol and the Salzburgerland in Austria will see the heaviest snow. Up to half a metre is expected in places.
It’s about time, too. Indian Summers like the one Britain and Europe have been enjoying recently are all very well: but it’s October now. We want to see some snow in the webcams. For my own part, it’s because I’ve got to get started on my ski fitness, and I just can’t get motivated when it’s 20C outside and half of London seems to be sitting in the park having a picnic. So come on autumn. Get your freak on.
The French resort of Tignes will also be happy: October 12 is the first day of autumn skiing on the Grande Motte glacier, and even though opening day could be disrupted by high winds, they’ll be glad of the free publicity the snow will bring. The resort needs a bit of a lift, to be honest, following the news last week that the X-Games there have been cancelled for 2014.
Tignes won’t be the only glacier open on Saturday. Regular followers of our Snow Report will know that the lifts are already spinning in several glacier ski areas in Austria, Switzerland and Italy (see our country-by-country guide, below for details). What’s more, we’re hurtling towards the opening event of the FIS alpine skiing World Cup – which starts on October 26 with the women’s GS on the Rettenbach glacier above Solden.
I’d like to say that, by then, the snowstorms will be more regular and the snowline will be creeping down the mountains towards the valley floor. But the weather in the Alps doesn’t work like that. Last year’s memorable winter in the region didn’t get going until the end of November. And even though some forecasters (such as La Chaine Meteo in France) are predicting a cooler-than-average autumn and winter, I wouldn’t bet on it just yet. If you’re planning an autumn or early-winter trip, check out guide to the best resorts for early season skiing, which focuses on the most reliable resorts: and if possible book at the last minute, when you know where the snow is best.
In Colorado, the race between Loveland and A-Basin continues
Last week, our snow report focused on the race between Loveland and Arapahoe Basin to be the first ski area to open in Colorado and – possibly – North America. At the time, with a big snowstorm on the horizon, it looked as though both resorts might fire up their lifts on October 5. But the weather last week was too mild, and the storm that followed didn’t deliver quite enough snow (although further north in Colorado, Steamboat had a foot at resort level). During the cold spell at the end of last week, the cannons in both resorts pumped out a lot of snow, to add to Mother Nature’s contribution. But there was no opening: and at the time of writing no firm opening date in either has been set.
In the meantime, there was heavy snow in parts of the Pacific Northwest, which dumped 50cm of snow on the upper slopes of Crystal Mountain in Washington State. So it decided to open for three hours on October 1. 51 tickets were offered to the public, and there was a feeding frenzy which crashed the resort’s online ticket-sales system. So in the end, they gave the tickets away on Facebook. In the end 75 lucky skiers and boarders got some powder turns last Tuesday: and Loveland and A-Basin were beaten to the punch, again!
You can’t help feeling sorry for A-Basin and Loveland: they work so hard, and these days, they seem increasingly likely to be beaten – thanks to a freak snowstorm somewhere else in the US, which allows someone else to spin their lifts for a day or two. Still, once they’re open they stay open. Let’s hope the next storm, due in on Thursday, sets them up finally.
Meanwhile in Whistler…
No, the behemoth of the Canadian scene isn’t open yet. But after heavy snow up high at the end of September, the authorities sent a helicopter, some pro-skiers and a film crew to the top of the ski area to see what happened. This is the result.
|France: currently, all the French glaciers are closed for skiing. The Grande Motte glacier above Tignes reopens on October 12.|
|Switzerland: You can ski on the glacier above Zermatt. At last, Saas Fee’s glacier is open too.|
|Austria: see our main report. The Austrian glacier-skiing pre-season is now in full swing, despite then recent Indian-summer weather. You can currently ski on the Hintertux, Stubai, Rettenbach, Kaunertal, Pitztal, Molltal and Kitzsteinhorn glaciers. On the Hintertux glacier, the snow report records cover, on-piste, up to 75cm deep.|
|Italy: the glacier above the Val Senales/Schalstal in the South Tyrol is now open for skiing.|
|Andorra: Andorra’s ski resorts are currently closed.|
|Western USA: all the mainstream ski resorts are closed, including Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in Oregon. But as we’ve said in our main report, Loveland and Arapahoe Basin in Colorado are both working their snow cannons, and hope to open soon.|
|Western Canada: Canada’s resorts are currently closed.|