Snow Report 2 December 2012 - France & Japan

Its that time again - so, WELCOME to Season 2012-2013! May the festive season bring massive dumps of powder for everyone, whether they be skiing or riding in Europe or Japan.

The last week has brought good snowfalls to both these parts of the world, so lets see how a few of the key mountains in Japan and France fared in their preparations for opening ...


Snowfalls in the past week have painted the mountain tops white, and even helped some resorts begin lift operations. Many of the ski resorts in the central part of Japan have half a metre of snow above about 1,000 metres, but the base areas - being quite close to sea-level - at most have a sprinkling.

As we move through the first few weeks of December, the ski resorts on Honshu will progressively open up (snow permitting of course!).

Happo Upper Slopes 30 November [Source: Happo Website]
Happo One (Hakuba)

Happo One, the most extensive of the ski stations in the Hakuba area of Nagano Prefecture, opened in late November this year.

There is now 50cms on the upper slopes. Happo is OPEN for limited skiing and riding!

Nozawa Onsen

Just across a few valleys in the southern part of Niigata, the beautiful village of Nozawa Onsen welcomed 60cms of snow falling on its upper slopes.

The Yamabiko area at the very top of the resort is known for its deep powder tree runs. However, there is little snow at the base and in the village ... yet!

Akakura Onsen (Myoko Kogen)

Still in Niigata Prefecture - but back towards Hakuba - is Myoko Kogen, possibly one of the snowiest ski areas in Japan.

Despite this top billing, and some snow after falls this week, there are no lifts open yet at the various ski areas that cluster around the base of Mount Myoko.

Zao Middle Slopes 30 November [Source: Zao Website]

This area has special interest this season as I will be reporting from Myoko after a trip there next month. Something to look forward to!


The massive linked resorts of Naeba, Tashiro and Kagura are around two hours on a shinkansen from Tokyo. Little snow at the bottom yet - but already there is lots of snow cover at the top of both Naeba and Kagura ski areas.

Zao Onsen

Much further northeast in Yamagata Prefecture is Zao Onsen. Zao currently has limited skiing on several runs with full opening scheduled for the weekend of 8 December.


Some good snowfalls across parts of France have helped preparations for December openings. Early news follows from a selection of ski resorts in the different areas of France.

Northern Alps

About one quarter to a third of the huge Espace Killy is already open as of this weekend, centred around Val D'Isere (50cms snowdepth up high to around 30cms at the base).

Other opening areas include the higher altitude ski stations like Les Deux Alpes (90-40cms) and Alpe D'Huez (120-48cms).

Other openings are planned as follows:
Serre Chevalier, Chamonix, Isola 2000, and Trois Vallees/Courchevel (79-29cms) - 8 December
Les Arcs - 15 December

Isola 2000 1 December [Source: Isola 2000 Webcam]
Southern Alps

Magnificent Isola 2000, perched high above the Mediterranean Sea in the Southern Alps, already has 100cms of snow covering its upper slopes, and 80cms at 2000 metres. Isola 2000 will open on 8 December 2012.


The Grand Tourmalet area is the largest connected ski area in the French Pyrenees. About 40cms of snow fell this week at 1800 metres altitude - the Grand Tourmalet ski stations plan to open on 6 December 2012.

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