What has been a weird start to winter with March-like snow conditions in high altitude resorts across the Alps, just got weirder in Val d’Isere, which opened for season at the weekend. Ice crystals danced and then rainbows appeared between the peaks…followed by a second sun that left skiers and guides gawping in utter amazement.
Sundogs or, more scientifically, parhelions halos are caused by hexagonal ice crystals refracting light in the sky 22° from the sun. They are not especially rare deep in the Arctic Circle, but frankly they are unheard of in Val d’Isere.
Folklore has it that if you spot a sundog while on a journey you will experience good luck and many rewards. Those lucky enough to be skiing at the time in half a metre of light, fluffy powder on a solid base on Bellevarde included Peter Hardy, one of our editors.
‘I’m certainly not arguing with that,’ he said. ‘It was a spectacular light show that lit up truly amazing piste and off-piste conditions, the best I have experienced here at the start of December in the past 25 years.’