The Alps have just had another dose of September snow.
The latest autumn sprinkle came on Sunday night/Monday morning and favoured France. There was enough to get the snowploughs out onto the Col de l’Iseran, nearly 1000m above the streets of Val d’Isere…
You could still see the benefit on the Grande Motte glacier above Tignes this morning.
And here was the view up to the Aiguille Rouge from Arc1950.
This latest foretaste of winter came on top of light snowfall across the higher Alps in the west on Friday, as well as a bigger dump in parts of the Austrian Alps on September 4 and 6. This was very localised snow: but it did vastly improve conditions on the Hintertux glacier.
It’s great to see the the white stuff making a comeback after the scorching summer in the Alps, but before we get too carried away, let’s bear a few things in mind.
1. Mid-September snow is very normal in the Alps, and in fact we often get much more powerful snowstorms at this time of year. Check out, for example, the Welove2ski snow report from September 23, 2013.
2. Despite the recent snow above Tignes and the Hintertux, several of the Alpine glaciers are still threadbare. The Stubai glacier, for example, which usually opens in mid-September, is looking very grey and snowless at the moment, and needs at least a couple of dumps before it can welcome skiers. The Kaunertal and Val Senales glaciers have also postponed their openings. Even though the Pitztal glacier is planning to open next Saturday with 3km of skiable pistes, we’re still a long way from a vintage September at altitude.
3. The weather is about to get uncooperative again. A strong southerly wind overnight will be followed by high temperatures and heavy rain. With the freezing point set to jump to 4000m, the glaciers as well as the valleys will be drenched.
In other words: if you’ve got a couple of chickens handy, it might be worth sacrificing at least one of them to the Snow Gods…
Snow in the Canadian Rockies
Look what’s just happened in Lake Louise, in the Canadian Rockies! The resort isn’t expected to open until early November, and many forecasters are predicting a milder and drier-than-average winter here, thanks to the powerful El Nino that’s become established in the Pacific Ocean (see my recent feature for more on that). But still, that hasn’t stopped the locals getting excited.
This photo was taken yesterday…
Thank you, Lake Louise, for expressing what we’re all beginning to feel…
Meanwhile, in the southern hemisphere…
The ski season is of course still running in the southern hemisphere and will stretch into October in most resorts. The best conditions right now are in the Andes – thanks to fresh snow last week. This was how deep it was in Portillo in Chile…
And here’s how it was on Saturday in Valle Nevado.
In New Zealand, spring was firmly in control over the weekend, but the mild turn in the weather was preceded by fresh snow, and the no-one’s complaining about what has been, in the South Island, a memorable season.
The Snowy Mountains of Australia have been springlike too – although today the mild temperatures were accompanied by heavy rain. Still, at least Thredbo was able to run its One Hit Wonder freestyle competition in beautiful sunshine last week.
|France: all of the French glacier ski areas are currently closed. However, the Grande Motte above Tignes will be open again from October 3.|
|Switzerland: currently Zermatt claims 130cm of snow at 2900m. Here, 17 lifts are currently open, serving 14 pistes. You can also ski on the glacier above Saas-Fee.|
|Austria: two glaciers are currently open in Austria for skiing – Hintertux, and the Molltal. On the Hintertux glacier, the snow report claims a depth of up to 60cm on the pistes. 18km of pistes are open. However, the snow that did so much good to Hintertux did not bless all Austrian glaciers at the start of September, and only the Pitztal is due to join them for skiing in the near future. It’s due to open on September 19.|
|Italy: Italy’s glacier resorts are currently closed. The glacier above Val Senales is hoping to open on September 25, but won’t be sure until September 22. Cervinia will be opening again on October 17.|
|Andorra: Andorra’s ski resorts are closed.|
|Western USA: late-summer skiing is on offer at Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in Oregon. Hopefully, the Colorado resorts of Loveland and Arapahoe Basin will shortly be starting their race to open, but it’s still too warm to get the snow cannons going.|
|Western Canada: Whistler’s short glacier season on Blackcomb mountain finished on July 26.|