Snow Report 1 January 2014 - French & Italian Alps

Neve, neve, neve ... neige, neige, neige!

Finally the long-awaited snows arrived like a big, white, blanketing Christmas present.

On Christmas Eve the southern French Alps and western Italian Alps got a nice dump of 20-40cms.

Elsewhere the temperature dropped and the snow arrived for the rest on Christmas Day. Nice pressie!

At Chamonix, we received around 30-50cms in the ski areas and 10-15cms in the valley towns. While this only partially covered all the rocks, it did make the pistes a lot better.

During the storm, we skied at Saint-Gervais and Megeve where the visibility was better because of the forests. There was some good, soft powder early on, but it was too early for the resorts to open new runs so things were a bit limited.

At Chamonix after it cleared we had a great morning at Balme, which is right up near the border with Switzerland. Stunning views, including back down the Chamonix valley. There were lots of great freshies to be had from the Tete de Balme.

Further east the snow continued, with places like Monte Rosa and Madonna Di Campiglio scoring around one metre from the dump over two days. Madesimo got a whopping two metres!

A follow-up front on the 28th December brought another 10-30cms across the region. Nice to be getting regular falls again after that crazy December drought.

The powder was lots of fun as the clouds began to clear and the sun peeped out again. We were at little Piano Di Bobbio near Lecco in Italy and had some great skiing in the new snow off the peak.

A run of beautiful, clear and sunny days has followed. Don't think that means another warm spell though: temperatures have been seasonally cold - we arrived at Corvatsch on the 30th December where it was -13c in the car park!

The weather is changing again, which promises to refresh the tracked out powder and make the pistes nice and chalky again.

Showers are forecast for the 2nd January, and then a bigger storm may arrive in the Alps on the weekend which could bring another half a metre or more.

A selection of much healthier looking snow depths from around the French and Italian Alps today:

Val D'Isere: 62cms@1850m; 103cms@2500m; and 66/79 pistes now open

Val Thorens: 90cms@2300m; 135cms@3200m

Megeve: 20cms@1151m; 90cms@2014m

Chamonix: 10cms in town; 120cms midway up the Grand Montets; but still only 48cms@2000-2500m in sunny Brevent and Balme.

Monte Rosa: 90/200cms
Madesimo: 210/290cms
Piani Di Bobbio: 130/160cms
Corvatsch: 86/132cms
Madonna Di Campoglio: 120/170cms
Val Gardena: 45/140cms

As you can see, the Italian Alps have certainly done incredibly well over the past week, but nice to see everywhere fully open for January.

Happy New Year! Buon Anno! Bonne Annee!


Snow Report 24 December 2013 - French & Italian Alps

Merry Christmas from the Chamonix Valley in the French Alps where we are anxiously awaiting the snowfall that could bring a glorious white Christmas!

At the ski stations in the northern French Alps there is very little snow below 2000m except on runs with snowmaking. Even then, we've had to be on the lookout for rocks, and the warm temperatures have made the lower slopes solid.

I've heard things are better in the south, but nothing too exciting.

At Chamonix, a dusting of snow on the morning of the 23rd December freshened up the slopes at Les Grands Montets, which has the best skiing in the valley.

Anyway, this should be all beside the point when the superstorm arrives tonight. The massive low pressure system covering half of Europe will bring snow everywhere - the only question will be how much, as locally there could be lots of variation.

The southern French Alps and northern Italy look like they may get up to one metre of snow in the next couple of days. Bring it on (my car has snow tyres and I'm fed up with skiing on stones and ice)!

Check out a picture of the valley from the 3,842m summit of the Aigulle Du Midi.


Snow Report 18 December 2013 - Europe

Greetings from 3 Vallees in the French Alps, where they like to remind you that this is the biggest linked ski area in the world.

I tell you what - it is indeed flippin' huge. On our first day we tried to go from one end to the other and almost missed the last gondola home!

This incredible run of dry, sunny days continues for the French and Italian Alps. It's now 18 days since the last snowfall.

Sunny days are lovely and all that, but we need the white stuff to fall from the sky fairly regularly!

If you're going to ski this early in the season, then Val Thorens is a safe bet with the village at 2300m altitude. Snowmaking and some clever piste management/grooming has kept things fresh on the upper slopes ... even up until today.

Around the rest of 3 Vallees there has been some fine skiing up high especially in Les Menuires (what an incredible place this would be after a dump with its endless rolling off-piste) and the Mottaret part of Meribel.

No off-piste is available with the sun-affected snow. Lower slopes are either closed or very patchy. To be expected this early in the season.

Some pictures from around 3 Vallees today and yesterday are in this post.

Snow is in the forecast for the 19th and 20th December and should extend across the French and Italian Alps down to about 1000m. About 20-50cms is possible over the next few days. Bring it on!


Snow Report 11 December 2013 - Europe

Orelle 3 Vallees 10 December 2013 [Source: Orelle FB page]
It has been a dry and sunny week, warm at times. No snow to report for the French and Italian Alps and not much in the forecast either.

So the last snowfalls were back in November. We need a top-up to get things refreshed again. The higher resorts will have been able to maintain snow quality. Lower down it will be sun-affected, maybe hard, and maybe some snow loss below 1800m

The good news is that a bunch of ski resorts had openings on the weekend, including Les Menuires, Meribel, and Val Gardena in the Dolomites.

No snow forecast for the rest of this week or this weekend, but there is a chance of some on the horizon. Here's hoping!

Here are current conditions at selected French and Italian ski resorts:

Val Thorens - There is still 65cms in Val Thorens village (2300m) and more than 105cms on the upper slopes (3200m). There are 54 lifts open across the 3 Vallees ski area, with the lower slopes with just 30cms.

Val D'Isere - 40cms@1850m, 76cms@2500m, 72% of pistes open.

St-Gervais 10 December 2013 [Source: St-Gervais FB page]
Megeve - CLOSED, opening 21st December
Les Contamines - CLOSED, opening 20th December

Chamonix (Grands Montets) - 40cms@1972m, 120cms above 2765m.
Chamonix (Brevent/Flegere) - partial opening 14th December, total 21st December

Monte Rosa - OPEN, 24 lifts running this weekend , 70cms/150cms at Gressoney-La-Trinite.

Piani Di Bobbio - 30/40cms.
Monte Rosa 8 December 2013 [Source: Monte Rosa FB page]

Valchiavenna - 20cms in the village of Madesimo (1550m) to 80cms on the summit (2900m)

St Moritz (Corvatsch) - 5 lifts running

Madonna di Campoglio - 15cms@1500m and 60cms@2250m

Val Gardena - 10cms in town and 40cms up the mountain.


Snow Report 1 December 2013 - Europe

Orelle 1 December 2013 [Source: Orelle FB page]
Its always incredibly exciting at the beginning of a new season - whats new on the slopes, when are the resorts opening, and how will the snow be this year?

While I don't have a crystal ball, I can share with you a little of whats going on ... and some of my excitement about the coming snow season!

It has been a nice, solid, snowy start to the season in the French and Italian Alps. The past week was fine and sunny, followed by a few centimetres of snow on Friday night into Saturday morning.

The mountain towns are looking nice and white and busy preparing for the busy christmas period. Expect lots of christmas lights and celebtations planned! There is 10 centimetres on the ground in the village at Chamonix, a good sign for a white christmas!

Grands Montets 1 December 2013 [ Source: Chamonix FB page]
It looks like another fine and sunny start to the week. In fact somewhat unseasonably warm, before it gets cooler again around Thursday and Friday.

A chance of snow arriving next weekend. By then it will be welcome and much needed so that the lower resorts can keep their return pistes open.

Here is the current status and snow depth at selected French and Italian ski resorts:

Val Thorens - OPEN - There is 70cms in Val Thorens village (2300m) and more than 110cms on the peaks (3200m). The link from Orelle opened this weekend. The links to Les Menuires and Meribel aren't open yet as these two resorts, part of 3 Vallees, don't open until 7th December. Val Thorens has 18 lifts open.

Val D'Isere - OPEN, 50cms@1850m, 130cms@2500m, 26 of 46 lifts running this weekend.

Megeve - CLOSED, opening 21st December
Les Contamines - CLOSED, opening 20th December

Chamonix (Grands Montets) - OPEN, the Grands Montets has opened a week earlier than planned, with five of the nine lifts spinning this weekend. 50cms@1972m, 150cms above 2765m.
Monte Rosa 30 November 2013 [Source: Monte Rosa FB page]
Chamonix (Brevent/Flegere) - CLOSED,  partial opening 14th December, total 21st December

Monte Rosa - OPEN, 24 lifts running this weekend , 70cms/100cms

Piani Di Bobbio - OPEN, with six lifts running and about half a metre of snow.

Valchiavenna - OPEN, 20cms in the village of Madesimo (1550m) to 80cms on the summit (2900m)

St Moritz (Corvatsch) - OPEN, 4 lifts running

Madonna di Campoglio - OPEN, opened a week earlier than planned with 35cms@1500m and 60cms@2250m

Val Gardena - CLOSED, opening 7th December, 15cms in town and 40cms up the mountain.