It’s been one of those late-season weeks you dream of, but rarely get. Wintry weather settled over the Alps on Sunday, and it’s served up repeated waves of snowfall ever since. All told, a metre of snow has fallen in places, and whenever the skies have cleared conditions, at altitude, have seemed miraculous: brilliant sunshine, fresh powder, cold, grippy pistes and empty slopes.
It’s a shame it came so late – after the busy Easter spell, and the closure of many big-name resorts last weekend (including Courchevel, Verbier and St Anton). But that of course has heightened the sense of privilege for those who’ve been able to enjoy it.
This video was shot yesterday above Tignes by Phil Smith of the British ski school Snoworks, as he skied another 30cm of fresh snow.
Today is likely to be a cracker too – sunny for the most part, and there’s 10-20cm of fresh snow in Austria as a result of the latest storm. Temperatures are still low: the daytime freezing point will be around 1800m across the northern Alps, which is what you’d hope for in mid-March, not the end of April.
Bear in mind, however, that with the sun so strong now the snow will be getting wet and heavy higher up than that. The most consistent wintry conditions will be above 2500m – and if you’re hunting powder, I’d strongly recommend hiring a guide. You don’t want to waste a precious day like this by failing to find the good stuff.
The immediate outlook is for temperatures to creep up tomorrow – before another cold front arrives on Sunday. Opinions differ as to how much snow will come – it could be shower or a fairly meaty dump (our snow forecast is currently suggesting the latter). But more importantly, much more spring-like conditions will return after that. What’s more, we’re going to lose yet more ski resorts this weekend as Val d’Isere, Les Deux Alpes, Ischgl and the Grands Montets near Chamonix all close, leaving just a handful of resorts with their lifts still spinning. In other words, if you want to ski the new snow, the best time is right now.
Here’s a quick squizz at the webcams, starting with Ischgl, where British band Muse plays the closing concert on Saturday. The resort reports up to 70cm of settled snow, on-piste.
Pictured below is the Stubai glacier, where skiing continues until the end of May, and there’s up to 280cm of high-quality snow on the pistes.
Below is Cervinia, which will be open at weekends through most of May, and reopens for the summer skiing season on June 25. The snow here is 30-200cm deep (Zermatt, just across the border, is open for glacier skiing right through spring and summer).
Below is Val Thorens, which closes on May 8. Here the snow is 120-230cm deep.
For more information on which resorts are still open – check out feature, Where Can I Ski Now?”.
|France: see our main report. It’s going to be a cracking day to ski the high-altitude resorts in France – which are the only ones still open. Following the next round of closures at the weekend, Tignes and Val Thorens will be the only ones still open.|
|Switzerland: as in France, there’s great skiing in the handful of high-altitude ski areas still open – which include Zermatt and Engelberg. On the latter, there’s a whopping 450cm of settled snow on the glacier.|
|Austria: Austria has done very well from the change in the weather since Easter, and the glacier ski areas in particular are in excellent condition – especially the Hintertux and the Stubai glacier. Currently, the former has up to 285cm of settled snow on its pistes.|
|Italy: Italy hasn’t had as much snow from the current wintry spell as the northern Alps, but snow depths on the glaciers are holding up. For example on the Presena glacier above Passo Tonale the snow is currently 250cm deep.|
|Andorra: in Andorra, the shutters have come down on the ski season. All eyes are now on the summer…|
|Western USA: most resorts are now closed, but in Colorado, the snow keeps coming. Arapahoe Basin reports 94cm of new snow since April 16. Currently the settled snow depths are around 188cm deep. The resort will stay open into June. Meanwhile, in Utah Snowbird (weekend openings until May 30) has 269cm of settled snow, following a meaty midweek storm, and in California Squaw (closes May 30) has 330cm.|
|Western Canada: in Whistler, Whistler Mountain has now closed, although on Blackcomb they’re hoping to keep skiing till May 30. The mid-mountain snowpack is now 188cm deep, and they’re expecting a high of +8C on the mountain. Meanwhile, in Banff National Park, Lake Louise has had a very warm week. The high today will be +13C and the snowpack is around 66cm mid-mountain.|