That’s the word that springs to mind as you ski the Alps this afternoon. For a week now, the region’s been in the grip of an almighty spring thaw, powered by strong southerly winds. They’ve brought dust from the Sahara, lots of cloud, and a sudden melting of the slopes below about 1500m. And whenever the sun’s out…crikey, it’s hot work, unless you’re well above 2000m.
The switch from cool to warm is annoying because it’s coincided with the school holidays, and a lot of families are still out skiing this week. But that doesn’t mean the snow’s a complete write-off. You just have to get your timing right, and be prepared to knock off early, when it all gets to slushy.
Courtesy of Club Med, I’m skiing in Valmorel this week, and this morning, pistes that had some north in them were fun and fast to ski – provided you caught them just as the surface began to melt. Below 2200m they’ve been tough going after lunch. But that’s pretty normal at this time of year. When conditions are like this, 2pm is the perfect moment to head to the nearest swimming pool.
So in the short term, we’ve all got to have our wits about us, and apply spring-skiing tactics with great diligence. As for the medium term: well, look what’s coming…
This is Welove2ski’s snow forecast for Friday. It looks increasingly certain that the southerly wind will stop blowing on Tuesday night. Finally temperatures will cool off, and become properly chilly on Friday, when it’s due to start snowing hard – down to 1200m or lower. I don’t want to get too excited just yet: but could Saturday be a powder day?
By the way, the weekend saw the first big wave of ski resort closures. Several mid-level resorts will be going for another couple of weeks: but if you’re planning a mid or late-April trip, then make sure your resort offers plenty of skiing up to 3000m, or higher: because judging by the latest run of maps from the European Centre for Mid-Range Weather Forecasts, temperatures will warm up sharply again next week. Under the circumstances, somewhere like the Stubai glacier (pictured, below) will do nicely, or the Hintertux, or Val Thorens, or Tignes, or Cervinia…
I’ll be back with a full Snow Report on Thursday.