The last couple of weeks have seen plenty of variation in the Alpine weather and – in places – heavy snow. But despite lower-than-average temperatures the trend has been inescapably spring-wards. Now we’re going to get a proper taste of the season, as the sun comes out for Easter, and warm air floods in from the south.
Admittedly, there’ll be the odd murky spell in the next couple of days, especially in the southern Alps. There’s the chance of thundery showers in the afternoons in the French Alps, too. But by Thursday, the daytime freezing point will be up around 3000m, and whenever the sun comes out temperature will be in double figures in the resorts. By Saturday the clear skies will be universal.
That’s not to say the ski season is over, just yet. In many of the high-altitude resorts, there are a couple of weeks still to go. In the Tirol, Lenny Kravitz will be playing out the end of the season in Ischgl on April 30. In France, Val d’Isere shuts on May 1 and Val Thorens on May 5. Several glacier resorts will keep going after that, and of course in Zermatt and the Hintertux you can ski all year.
What’s more, there’s still some lovely skiing to be had at altitude. Yesterday, I was just about the luckiest skier in the Alps when (courtesy of James Orr Heliski) I skied perfect firn snow on the Monterosa massif in Italy, above Alagna (see above). Meanwhile, piste skiers who aim high and employ spring tactics can enjoy a delicious, velvety surface if they ski the slopes just as the sun begins to soften the snow.
Nevertheless, there’s no denying that, in most resorts, the the snow is in headlong retreat, and it’s all but vanished on south-facing slopes below 2000m. The mid-range forecasts suggest there could yet be more snow in the western Alps in time for Val d’Isere’s final weekend. But it’s too soon to be certain. So in the meantime it’s best to slap on the sunblock, ski hard in the mornings, and plan a long afternoon on a sundeck with your feet up. Which doesn’t sound too gruelling…