With Easter almost done, the mountains are beginning to empty. But that doesn’t mean there’s no skiing. Up high, there’s a thick white coat of fresh snow in many resorts, thanks to a wet start to the holiday weekend. Anyone skiing at altitude will be enjoying a deliciously creamy and grippy surface this morning – and almost empty pistes.
The only issue will be visibility. The weather in the Alps is going to be changeable all week, with cloud, showers and extended periods of snow/rain mixing with the odd moment of sunshine.
By contrast, the cover lower down is in poor shape. Rain, coupled with cloudy skies after dark have meant the usual spring pattern of overnight refreezing has been broken. So what little snow there is will be slushy from the get-go. But then, most of the lower resorts are already closed…
To give you a sense of how things are at 3000m, here’s a picture from The Caron Freeride Cafe at the top of Val Thorens, in France, taken on Saturday, which shows the fresh snow. Up there, the cover is 180cm deep, on piste. Val Thorens is open until May 11.
Pictured below is Tignes in France this morning. Tignes shares its ski area with Val d’Isere, and the photo gives you an idea of how humid things are today at village level – even at 2100m. Up high, on the Grande Motte glacier, however, there was 40cm of fresh snow yesterday morning. Tignes closes on May 11.
Below, is the the Plan Maison mid-station at Cervinia in Italy this morning– beneath a fresh coating of white. The resort had 10cm of fresh snow yesterday, and there’s snow falling down to village level at 2000m this morning. The resort closes on May 4.
Finally, pictured below is Obergurgl in Austria yesterday, when the sun was out. The resort reports 33-149cm of snow cover, on-piste and closes on May 4.
Still wintry in the Canadian Rockies
The Canadian Rockies provide one of the most reliable late-season skiing destinations – and this year is no exception. In Banff National Park, Lake Louise reported 18cm of snow on Friday and Saturday. Yesterday, on the upper slopes a high of 0C was expected, and the mid-mountain snowpack was a healthy 207cm deep. The resort closes on May 11.
On the coast, Blackcomb mountain in the resort of Whistler will stay open until May 28. There was a dusting of snow jere over the weekend, and the mid-mountain base is 245cm deep. It’s going to be chilly on the upper slopes this week with the mercury not rising much above 0C.
Meanwhile, south of the border, many resorts in the American Rockies chose yesterday as their closing date for the season. Vail, Colorado was one. It finished the season with 157cm of the white stuff packed down on its slopes, and a season total of 805cm of snow – slightly below its season average of 899cm. Nearby, in Breckenridge, the lifts will be spinning for another week. Breck has had an excellent season, clocking up 1115cm of snow so far this winter, which is a couple of metres more than its average.
|France: The coming week will see a mix of sunshine, clouds, rain and snow in the French Alps. High altitude slopes will be the most fun to ski, thanks to the fresh snow. Currently, Val d’Isere reports 45-135cm of settled snow on its pistes. On the Grands Montets above Chamonix the snow report records 67-210cm of cover, on-piste.|
|Switzerland: The area around Saas-Fee and Zermatt got heavy snow on Saturday. In Saas-Fee the cover is 30-405cm deep, on piste. Meanwhile, Verbier reports cover that is 10-146cm deep. As in France, the forecast is for mild and changeable weather this week – so ski at altitude whenever the skies are clear.|
|Austria: there’s lots of fresh snow on the glaciers in Austria at the moment – thanks to the snow last week and at the weekend. Lower down, spring has a powerful grip on the skiing surface. Currently, high-altitude Obergurgl reports 33-149cm of settled snow on its pistes, and the Hintertux glacier up to four metres.|
|Italy: many of the lower ski areas in Italy have already shut their lifts (including those around the Sella Ronda in the Dolomities). However, at altitude, there’s still plenty of snow. Currently, in the Aosta Valley, Cervinia has 40-330cm of settled cover on its pistes. Meanwhile on the Presena glacier above Passo Tonale there’s still 550-600cm of settled snow, after an exceptional winter.|
|Andorra: today is the last day of the season in the Grandvalira ski area. Currently, the snow in Soldeu and Pas de la Casa ranges from 30-140cm deep.|
|Western USA: see our main report. The season is winding down fast in America – although there’s no lack of cover in resorts that are still open. In Utah, for example, Snowbird currently has 251cm of settled snow, mid-mountain.|
|Western Canada: Whistler is expecting snow showers this week on its upper slopes and reports a mid-mountain snowpack 245cm deep, mid-mountain. Meanwhile, in Lake Louise, the mid-mountain snowpack is 207cm deep, mid-mountain.|