It’s been a big week for the resort of Alpe d’Huez in France. On Sunday, the 3320m Pic Blanc at the top of the resort saw the launch of the insane Megavalanche bike race, which does nothing at all to convince me that bikes will ever take the place of skis on snow…
Here’s a video of Sunday’s event.
But the Megavalanche was nothing compared to today’s visit by the Tour de France. Alpe d’Huez provided the finale of the most talked-about stage of this year’s race – which involved not one but two ascents of its famous switchback mountain road. As you probably know, Christophe Riblon won: and Chris Froome ate a sandwich or something, which is apparently, a heinous crime, punishable by death (or a 20-second penalty).
Here’s the victor. He may have won the most prestigious stage of the world’s most prestigious bike race: but that’s no reason to celebrate, is it?
Here’s a shot from the resort’s webcam a little earlier in the afternoon.
Note the storm clouds. It’s stormy pretty much everywhere over the Alps at the moment, as the influence of the high pressure over Britain recedes – and the weather stays hot but gets more unstable.
Still, the snow cover is still very good up on the glaciers, given how hot it is lower down.
Here’s how the Hintertux glacier in the Austrian Tirol was looking on Sunday.
Not bad for mid-July, huh?
In the Southern Hemisphere, they could do with some more snow
Meanwhile, the main southern hemisphere ski areas – the Andes near Santiago, the South Island of NZ and the Snowy Mountains of Australia – could all do with a top-up of snow. Conditions until recently were best in New Zealand, where there was fresh snow last week, and powder days on June 9 and 10.
But it’s turned a bit warm and soggy since then. The Remarkables near Queenstown reported rain at the bottom of the lifts yesterday. It’s been warm in the Snowy Mountains too: in Perisher only half the lifts are open and the snow cover is just 30cm deep. But there are hopes of fresh snow and lower temperatures at the weekend. In South America, it’s been sunny and dry for the last ten days, and looks set to stay that way for a while yet.
|France: the Pisaillas glacier above Val d’Isere has now closed for skiing, but there are still turns to be had above Tignes and Les Deux Alpes. Summer is really starting to get hold of the snow now, thinning the cover, but according to Les Deux Alpes’ snow report, the white stuff on its glacier is still 245cm deep.
|Switzerland: You can still ski on the glacier above Zermatt, and links over to Cervinia are open too. Saas Fee’s glacier will be open from July 27.
|Austria: you can currently ski on the Hintertux, the Molltal and the Kitzsteinhorn glaciers. However the Kitzsteinhorn glacier closes on July 21.
|Italy: access to high-altitude skiing above Cervinia is now possible – mostly on the Swiss side of the border above Zermatt.
|Andorra: Andorra’s ski resorts are now closed for the summer.
|Western USA: all the mainstream ski resorts are now closed, but you can still make turns at Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in Oregon.
|Western Canada: The ski season is now done and dusted in Canada – although the glacier on Blackcomb mountain, above Whistler is open until July 28 for summer skiing. Check out our guide to the best resorts for summer skiing for more information.