Lucky are those who are in the mountains right now. The sun’s out, temperatures are low, and the early-season snow is exceptional. The slopes are more or less deserted, too. It’s a day to seek out some untracked powder, get your edges up on soft, grippy pistes, or maybe just sit back and soak up the view…
Among the lucky few skiing today is my fellow editor Peter Hardy, who’s in Tignes running his early-season clinics. He sent pictures of conditions there yesterday: which occasioned a few moments of green-eyed jealousy, as you can imagine.
“Unquestionably the best November snow conditions on the Grande Motte Glacier that I have experienced in the last 19 years,” he reported this morning. “-15C and a clear blue sky – this is perfect January skiing a month ahead of schedule.”
Meanwhile, beneath the Matterhorn, the Warren Smith Ski Academy was having another cracking day skiing between Cervinia and Zermatt. “Slinging it in on the glacier here above Cervinia and Zermatt. Quite possibly the best piste skiing ever!” was the comment on its Facebook page. Which might be an exaggeration, but an understandable one. When early-season skiing is as good as this, it’s hard not to get euphoric.
It looks as though conditions were pretty good yesterday on the Hintertux glacier, too. The opening event of the Telemark World Cup starts here today.
And this was Val Thorens in the Three Valleys this morning. Val T opened last weekend: and clearly, if you like a bit of elbow room when you ski, it’s a good day to be out.
There will be a lot more skiing on tap from Saturday
If you’ve been following the Welove2ski Snow Report, you’ll know why conditions are so good right now. There were big dumps in the Alps on November 10, November 15, November 19 and November 21 – with plenty of dustings and flurries in between. Initially, Italy, France and the western half of Switzerland got the lion’s share, but at the beginning of this week Austria caught up, thanks to its own localised bout of snowy weather. Several ski areas there – including the Skiwelt – are now planning to open early at the weekend; and Kitzbuhel will also be opening significant amounts of new terrain to take advantage of the excellent early-season conditions.
They’ll be joining a raft of other resorts opening full time for the start of the season – including Ischgl, which opens today and Val d’Isere, Verbier, Les Deux Alpes, the Grands Montets above Chamonix, Monterosa, Courmayeur, parts of the Dolomiti Superski area, Madonna di Campiglio and Mayrhofen, on Saturday.
Wish we could do that in London…
There’s a little more snow on the way, too
After a long period of uncertainty, the forecast for the weekend has settled on only light to moderate snowfall, accompanied by a drop in temperatures. French forecaster Meteo Chamonix expects the snow to fall down to 500m.
Here’s the Welove2ski snow forecast for the Alps for Saturday.
After that, high pressure and sunshine look set to reassert themselves over the region: although the mid-range weather charts are suggesting change around December 6, with another cold and snowy spell to come. It’s too soon to say for sure, though, and in the short term at least it looks as though the spectacular run of storms that dominated late October and most of November is over.
The Pyrenees have had a cracking start to winter, too
You’ll have seen from our November 25 Snow Report that the Pyrenees have had a Snovember too. The conditions for the opening weekend at Baqueira-Beret in particular were spectacular, but the Grandvalira in Andorra also opened for a winter preview last weekend and gets going full-time on Saturday. What’s more, snow is in the forecast here, and it looks like it will be heavier and more prolonged than in the Alps.
Pictured, below, is Baqueira this morning.
In the western US and Canada, more snow is coming
It’s been dry, sunny and mild in many parts of the American and Canadian west this week: but that’s about to change. The Pacific Northwest will see snow first, and in Whistler it looks as though a proper dump is on the way, with 30cm+ in the forecast over the weekend.
In Colorado Snow forecaster Joel Gratz is calling for a dusting on Saturday night and then a period of heavier snow beginning on Tuesday – which is exciting, as I’m off to Breckenridge at the weekend! Utah is expecting heavy snow from Monday. Today is Thanksgiving in America, and the last big-name resorts of the west have just opened, or are about to – including Beaver Creek and Steamboat (yesterday), Big Sky and Jackson Hole (today), and Canyons Resort tomorrow.
|France: See our main report. More and more terrain is opening up in Tignes thanks to the snow, and neighbouring Val d’Isere gets going on November. Val Thorens opened on November 23. Les Deux Alpes is opening next Saturday, too – along with the Grands Montets above Les Deux Alpes. Alpe d’Huez is continuing its programme of weekend openings before its official December 6 start date.|
|Switzerland: Verbier is opening on November 30. Among the resorts already offering skiing are Zermatt, Saas Fee, Engelberg, Davos, and St Moritz.|
|Austria: the mainstream ski season in Austria is underway. Obergurgl, Ischgl and Kitzbuhel are among the resorts already offering skiing – with more to follow at the weekend, including Mayrhofen and the Skiwelt. There’s also superb skiing on offer on the Hintertux, Stubai, Rettenbach, Kaunertal, Pitztal, Molltal and Kitzsteinhorn glaciers.|
|Italy: Cervinia is off to a superb start this winter, with 145cm of settled cover even at the mid-mountain level. Parts of the Dolomites are now open for skiers – and there will be more skiing on offer at the weekend.|
|Andorra: There’s been heavy snow in the Pyrenees, as well as the Alps. Both the Grandvalira and Vallnord ski areas open full-time on November 30.|
|Western USA: See our main report. In Colorado, Wolf Creek is the place to be right now, thanks to its 80cm storm at the weekend, but there’s more widespread snow in the forecast next week. Most resorts are now open, or are just about to, including Vail, Aspen, Keystone, Breckenridge. In California, Heavenly opened its first trails on Saturday, and in Utah Snowbird got going on November 20 – joining an already buzzing local scene. Canyons opens there on Saturday.|
|Western Canada: Most Canadian resorts in the west are now open, including Norquay, Lake Louise and Sunshine Village in Banff National Park. Meanwhile, Whistler is looking forward to 30cm+ of fresh snow at the weekend.|