Snow Report 7 November 2014 - Europe & Japan

Happo One 03.11 [Source: Happo FB page]
Greetings ski fans!

We're still quite a way off from snow season openings but the weather is changing and as autumn begins to give way to winter there has been a bit of snow around in both Japan and Europe to get us in the mood.
A little bit of snow fell on the highest slopes in Nagano and Niigata Prefectures on the 3rd November.

Hakuba's Happo One reported 3cms above 1600m (the highest lifted point is about 1800m and the base is at 760m). Snow also fell at the top of Mt Myoko and on the highest slopes of Nozawa Onsen.

A bit of rain is likely in Honshu on Sunday, but some snow to lower levels than the high-altitude dustings we've had so far is looking like a real possibility in the middle of next week.
Isola 2000 07.11 [Source: Isola2000 FB page]
Great news! The snow has been falling jsut about everywhere this week in the French Alps, but how much depends on how far south you are and how high your mountains are!

The storm moved in from the west on Tuesday the 4th November, with snow starting up high. The snow continued into Wednesday as the storm moved across towards Italy.

Isola 2000 in the far south looked to have received almost 50cms between Tuesday and Thursday, with Serre Chevalier further north reporting snow down to 1400m and falls of almost 1m at 2500m. Val d'Isere was today reporting 20cms at 2500m.

These are all good early signs for skiing and riding in France, which also kicked off the season nicely with mid-November snowfalls last year, although I have to remind everyone that was then followed by almost a month without precipitation!
Serre Chevalier 06.11 [Source: Serre Che FB page]

There is more snow forecast to arrive from this Sunday through to Wednesday although its touch-and-go Sunday and probably only above 2200m. Heavier snowfalls are expected and down to lower levels on Wednesday (lowering towards 1600m).

The storm moved across the Italian Alps from Tuesday into Wednesday. There were some good snowfalls in the west, up high at Monte Rosa for example.

The snow made it to the far east and Val Gardena on Wednesday, with a bit up high but not the size of the snowfalls we saw in France.
Monte Rosa [Source: Monterosa FB page]
As in France, we can expect some snow higher up in the west (Madesimo and Monte Rosa) on Sunday/Monday lowering below 2000m on Wednesday.

In the east, the snowfalls will be mostly only on the higher peaks from Wednesday.

While we're all getting geared up for the new snow season I thought I'd revisit some of the places in Japan, France and Italy that I've blogged about in the past.

Over the next month or so I'll reanimate an old trip report or two from some of the key ski resorts in the countries I'm covering this season in my snow reports. Hopefully it may inspire some of you lucky travellers with trips planned for the winter.

This week - a post from 2010 from the beautiful Isola 2000 in the far Southern French Alps. This is a place that you can ski in the morning and relax by the Mediterranean in the evening! Enjoy this flashback!

Isola 2000 (January 2010)

Another day, and time for a world-class ski resort and our third different ski area of the trip. Isola 2000. Now we're getting higher! Isola 2000 is a big ski resort up a different valley from those we'd previously ventured up, but quite near to our Petit Chalet, and very close to the Italian border.

Isola is a small village in the Tinee valley. Isola 2000 is a ski station built by a British entrepreneur at an altitude of ... der der dum ... 2,000m. That's pretty high by any standards, perhaps the highest ski village in France that I can think of, and it guarantees amazing snow in the sunny Southern Alps.

The road up rises very quickly thanks to dozens of hairpin bends which aren't for the faint-hearted, then travels through a series of avalanche tunnels. These tunnels are supposed to keep the road open during heavy snowfalls, which unfortunately they failed to do the previous year when the resort was isolated with hundreds of people stuck up there for several days.

The village nestles in a bowl surrounded on three sides by peaks with ski lifts up them all. After a very cold start where I gashed my hand putting my boots on we explored the terrain. Its a vast, varied and expansive area and surprisingly there are lots of tree-lined runs. The snow is perfection and the powder off-piste is fun.

The feel was a lot different from Valberg and La Colmiane with far more overseas visitors and a few fashion victims around. Lift prices are more expensive here, but the food was still great value and it was great to ski back into the village centre straight to your cafe for a chocolat chaud or some lunch.

Its a beautiful spot, but the cloud began to come in as predicted on the weather forecast and - given what happened last year with people stuck there for a few days - we thought it wise to make our way back down this mountain and up to our own little mountain and our Petit Chalet!

We needed to fill up with petrol on the way back and the service station was one of these card-only, no-attendant ones that are all over Europe. Without any cards we had to rely on the kindness of a local to use their card and we gave them cash.

Dinner, cheese and wine, then the snow began to fall. The driveway is tiny and narrow so we decided to fit the snow chains on the car in preparation for the night's expected snowfall. Its a smart move as fitting chains once the snow has already fallen is not a pleasant experience!

The chains did not fit the tyres, which was a huge frustration. Avis had given us the wrong size snow chains!

[This Blog post was originally issued in February 2010]

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