There’s nothing quite like the first day back on skis.
There’s quite a bit of the white stuff about too. 31km of pistes are open, and the place is humming. National ski teams, junior ski teams, groups of holidaymakers, the Cairngorm Ski Club…they’re all out, taking advantage of the good conditions and the Hintertux’s steeper-than-average slopes. This morning, outside the Hotel Elisabeth in Mayrhofen, they were pruning the roses. Up on the Hintertux, with the odd snow flurry blowing through, it felt like the middle of winter.
Needless to say, I had a cracking morning with my guide, Kathi Auinger, although by midday temperatures were creeping up and the snow was loosing its chalky softness. Temperatures, I’m afraid, are on the rise, and the next week is going to be very mild, with the daytime freezing point well above 3000m. All the glacier ski areas in the Alps will be affected, with the pistes hard in the morning and heavy and bumpy in the afternoon. Still, at least the more challenging conditions will help sharpen everyone’s technique…
The weather has already cleared in the western Alps, as you’ll see from this midday photo from the glacier above Tignes – one of many now open for autumn skiing. We’re due to get the sunshine in Austria tomorrow as well.
Sunday and Monday will see temperatures peak and then – if the European Centre for Mid-Range Forecasts (ECMWF) is on target – the thaw will lose some of its bite. However, there’s no sign yet of another bout of cool, snowy weather, like the one that passed through on Friday.
Here’s the latest ECMWF chart for Sunday. “Indian Summer” is a phrase that springs to mind.
Clearly, Mother Nature is going to be a tease this month. If you’re planning to ski in the next couple of months, make sure you build a lot of altitude into your plans.
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic…
In the American Rockies, the pre-season can be flukey too, although some resorts are so high that winter usually gets a grip on them by the end of October. Loveland in Colorado is one of the highest, with its base area at 3,292m, and this year, the weather is playing ball. There’s been a dusting of snow, and the cold, dry air is now perfect for making snow. It looks as though the first day of skiing is near at hand.