Snow Report 29 December 2014 - Europe & Japan

Happy holidays! I hope everyone is enjoying the festive season, even more so if you're lucky enough to be scoring a white Christmas ... and even more so if you are skiing and riding!
Happo One 24.12.14 [Source: Happo FB page]


The Japan early season powder dumpage continued into early last week, before the weather cleared up a little in midweek, and then some more snow finished off the week. A nice cycle that hopefully continues.

The recent snowfalls opened most lifts across the resorts and they have set the season up beautifully. Its amazing to witness the sheer size of these storms that bring snow to Japan.

Light snow is forecast on and off throughout the week (Niseko), with some heavier falls in Nagano, Gifu and Niigata midweek.

At Hakuba's Happo One there was another half-metre dump into Tuesday morning. There is now 240cm at Usagidaira (1400m), and 120cm at the bottom of the lifts. All main lifts are now open.

Nozawa Onsen 28.12.14 [Source: Nozawa Onsen FB page]
Nozawa Onsen reported another 25cm into Tuesday morning. There is now 295cm on the upper slopes (Yamabiko, 1650m) and 180cm at the base of the lifts (650m).

Myoko Suginohara: 190/190cm
Akakura Onsen: 195cm
Shiga Kogen: 150/80cm
Gala Yuzawa: 300cm
Zao Onsen: 180/125cm
Niseko Grand Hirafu: 270/140cm


Another fine and sunny week in France ended with a desperately needed touch of snow at the weekend: for Isola 2000 (10cm), Les Arcs (25cm), Val Thorens (20cm), Val d'Isere (39cm) and Chamonix (35cm).

A follow-up dump is looking unlikely, however, with the fine and sunny weather returning for this new week.
Val d'Isere 26.12.14 [Source: Val d'Isere FB page]

Isola 2000: 100/40cm.
Serre Chevalier: 80/0cm.
Les Arcs: 40cm@3200m, 20cm@1600m.
Val Thorens: 140cm@3200m, 100cm@2300m.
Val d'Isere: 100cm@2500m, 60cm@1850m
Chamonix: 160cm@3275m, 60cm@1900m.


We were in Lombardy this time last year, skiing at Piani di Bobbio (one of the closest ski resorts to Milan), which had just had a nice heap of snow fall. The season really started firing up around this time.

I think it would be fair to say this season has yet to get really going to the levels that we saw last year. There was a little snow on Saturday that freshened the slopes, but only 5cm or so. The snow pushing into Switzerland and Austria this week doesn't look like making it through to Italy.

Monte Rosa (Gressoney-la-Trinite): 130/5cm and now 17/19 pistes available.
Madesimo: 230/60/0cm.
Madonna di Campiglio: 95cm@2250m, 10cm@1500m.
Val Gardena is hosting Ski World Cup races this weekend: 45cm@2500m, 5cm@1400m.


Snow Report 19 December 2014 - Europe & Japan

What an incredible week of heavy snowfalls across Japan. The mild, rainy weather had to end eventually ... and it did in typical Japanese style with the arrival of huge tasty dumps of powdery snow over four smashing days!

A slightly less incredible, but frankly welcome, dusting of snow in Europe as the French and Italian ski resorts continue to wait, while getting on with the job thanks to snowmaking.


As anticipated, there were heavy snowfalls across Japan last weekend and through the middle of this week.

Heavy snow set in again on Wednesday making it difficult to get around some areas, with train cancellations and snow clearing operations in full force.

Check out my video from a few years back to see what its like driving around Niigata Prefecture in winter.

It looks like the snow will set in again on Saturday night and continue to fall through until Monday.

Hakuba's Happo One reported 60cms into Sunday, then another 15cms into Monday. The ski resort reported another 60cms into Wednesday. There is now 210cms at the top (Usagidaira) of Happo, and 60cms at the bottom of the lifts. Still only partial opening today, but Happo One intends to have most lifts running tomorrow (20th December).

Usagidaira Happo ready to go 19.12.14 [Source: Happo webcam]
Nozawa Onsen reported 95cms fell at the top of the lifts into Sunday afternoon, then another 50cms for a summit snowdepth of 200cms by Monday afternoon.

Nozawa Onsen reported another 20cms into Wednesday and then another 70cms into Thursday morning. There is now a whopping 290cms at the top (Yamabiko, 1,650m) and 200cms at the base of the lifts (650m).

The resorts around Mt Myoko are up and running now. Myoko Suginohara is reporting 210cms across the mountain, while Akakura Onsen is reporting 200cms.


Shiga Kogen: those ski resorts at Shiga Kogen that aren't open today should open tomorrow (20th December).
Happo 19.12.14 [Source: Happo FB page]

Gala Yuzawa: opens for the season tomorrow on 20th December (there is skiing already in the region, however, at Iwappara, Joetsu Kokusai and Kagura ski areas).

Zao Onsen: 160/105cms, part open today but should open fully on the weekend with lots more snow to come next week.


It was a fine start to the week in France, but with some welcome snow arriving in the Alps midweek.

A little snow into Wednesday (5cm Val d'Isere, Les Arcs) and into Thursday (15cm Val d'Isere). Snow also fell all the way down to Chamonix village.

The outlook is not that great in the short term - fine, warm and sunny weather. Conditions have been somewhat similar to last year where there was a run of sunny weather after November snowfalls. That "drought" broke on and about Christmas Day. Local media is claiming Isola 2000 has been the only French ski station 100% open.

Val d'Isere 18.12.14 [Source: Val d'Isere FB page]
Val Thorens is maintaining its snow cover nicely thanks to its altitude and some fresh snow this week: 100cm@3200m, 60cm@2300m.

The Alpes du Sud are still a good place to ski and ride. Serre Chevalier: 100/0cm. Isola 2000: 95/40cm.


Les Arcs: limited opening this weekend: 50cm@3200m, 10cm@1600m.

Val d'Isere: Improving conditions in Espace Killy with the snow this week means there are 45 of 155 runs open today: 40cms@2500m, 20cm@1850m

Chamonix: tomorrow's opening (20th December) is very limited with some skiing available at Grands Montets, one run open at each of Flegere and Balme, and none at Les Houches or Brevent.

Les Contamines: 10/25 lifts: 40cm@2500m


It has been a similar story for northern Italy with a little snow falling in places during midweek. Fine, sunny days are set to continue, which is a brilliant ski experience in Italy, but we could do with a bit more snowpack established first!
Canazei Dolomiti 19.12.14

Incredible work by the crews around the Dolomiti, with the Sella Ronda opening this week. Have to admit I can't see how it would be possible, Val Gardena is hosting Ski World Cup races this weekend: 40cm@2500m, 0cm@1400m.

Monte Rosa (Gressoney-la-Trinite):
There was a little snow into Tuesday at Monte Rosa: 130/5cm and now 17/21 pistes available.

Madesimo: Same as last week: 5 lifts running and 9 out of 33 runs available: 230cm/60cm/0cm.

Madonna di Campiglio: 95cms@2250m, 10cms@1500m.


Snow Report 12 December 2014 - Europe & Japan

Happo One 08.12.14 [Source: Happo FB page]
What a difference a week makes in the mountains! In western Japan, the snows of last weekend have led to some early ski area openings ... I'd say that's always a good start to a new season and a fine improvement from all the grass on the webcams a week ago!

A fine weather week in France and Italy has seen little new snow, but there are plenty of places to ski and ride if you do your research, and that's also pretty good going for mid-December.


The weather cleared in most areas after the weekend, but a little snow returned on Tuesday (5cms at Happo One).

Later in the week saw some rain across the ski areas, but that should turn to snow this weekend. Next week looks like delivering some heavy snowfalls across most of Japan. the season could really get going after that!

Dynaland and Takasu Snow Park [Source: Dynaland]
Great news down in Gifu with Dynaland opening all its runs this weekend after doing very well from the recent snow. Dynaland is also opening the link to neighbouring Takasu Snow Park, meaning masses of terrain at this big ski area that's so popular with people from Nagoya.

I visited this great area in 2013, and you can see my trip report from Dynaland/Takasu Snow Park in a detailed blog post back then.

In Niigata around marvellous Mt Myoko there is also fantastic news with both Akakura Onsen and Suginohara Onsen announcing lifts will start to spin this weekend, earlier than originally planned.

I also visited this brilliant part of Japan in 2013, and you can see my detailed trip report from Myokokogen in a blog post back then.


Nozawa Onsen108.12.14 [Source: Nozawa Onsen FB page]
Happo One: 85/20cms, only the top runs and lifts are open (Panorama and Kurobishi - basically the photo above). The top parts of other Hakuba resorts are also open.

Shiga Kogen: limited openings around the various resorts.

Nozawa Onsen: 70/0cms, skiing limited to the wonderful Yamabiko area (see photo), plus some green runs on the middle and lower parts of the mountain.

Gala Yuzawa: opens on 20th December (there is skiing already in the region, however, at Iwappara, Joetsu Kokusai and Kagura ski areas).

Zao Onsen: 145/85cms, part open.


It was mostly fine and sunny this week in the French Alps, but a little snow fell at Val d'Isere, Chamonix, and Trois Vallees into Tuesday morning.
Serre Chevalier 11.12.14 [Source: Serre Che FB page]

This is the weekend when most of the ski areas in the French Alps should be open, but those lower down will struggle as there's not much snow below 2,000m except snowmaking.

The fine weather is set to continue, so terrain may remain limited even at the higher resorts. Some snow is looking possible in the middle of next week.

Up high, Val Thorens reported 15cms fresh on Tuesday and says it will have 95% of its ski lifts and 80% of its ski area open this weekend: 90cms@3200m, 50cms@2300m.

Some of the 3 Vallees connections will also be open linking the parts of Meribel, Courchevel and Les Menuires that are currently open.

In the south there is good skiing available. Serre Chevalier said it would have 70% of its pistes open this weekend: 100/0cms. Isola 2000 will also open another area, Saint Sauveur, on Saturday: 120/41cms.

Val d'Isere 11.12.14 [Source: Val d'Isere FB page]

Les Arcs: limited opening this weekend: 30/5cms.

Val d'Isere: Despite difficult conditions in Espace Killy, there are 30 of 155 runs open today: 30cms@2500m, 5cms@1850m

Chamonix: partial opening delayed to 20th December

For an idea of conditions in the French Alps last year, see my posts during December: Snow Report 11 December 2013 - Europe and Snow Report 18 December 2013.


It has been mostly fine and sunny in Northern Italy as well, creating similar conditions to France. Maybe some snow will arrive in the middle of next week, but for now the key resorts are all open and there is skiing and riding with limited terrain.

Val Gardena 11.12.14 [Source: Val Gardena FB page]
Monte Rosa (Gressoney-la-Trinite): 130/0cms and 6/21 pistes available.

Madesimo: 5 lifts running and 9 out of 33 runs available: 230cms/60cms/0cms.

Madonna di Campiglio: 115cms@2250m, 12cms@1500m, which is the base of the lifts and the village.

Val Gardena: 35cms/0cms. Skiing is up around Passo Sella this weekend.

For an idea of conditions in Italy last year, see my posts from around the same time: Snow Report 11 December 2013 - Europe.


Snow Report 5 December 2014 - Europe & Japan

Good evening all and welcome to early December ... when things can be a bit up and down as the ski resorts get ready to open! Lets face it, the season doesn't really get going until close to Christmas (and sometimes not even then!) ... so anything we get in December is a bit of a bonus.

So, lets see ... Things have eased off in Europe a bit, with not much happening. Meanwhile, snow has been falling down to low levels across Japan. Read on!


Dynaland 05.12.14 [Source: Dynaland FB page]
Excitement to the max as snow was forecast to fall in Japan all this week down to 300-500m after what seemed like almost a month of warm, rainy weather.

The forecast was spot on cos it happened for sure, but where the snow fell was a bit hit and miss by all accounts.

In Gifu, the area's biggest ski area Dynaland reported 20cms into Tuesday morning, 30cms into Wednesday morning, heavy snow into Thursday morning, and again into Friday morning. Dynaland opens tomorrow 6th December and is now reporting 110cms of snow, where a few days ago there was none!

In Nagano, Happo One reported 3cms into Tuesday morning, and 25cms of snow into Wednesday morning at the top. Looked like another 10-20cms Thursday. By today, Happo One reported 75/15cms and the opening of some lifts up high for the first time this season.

Nozawa Onsen didn't get any snow earlier this week, and seemed to miss out, but there's snow on the cams now. Tomorrow's scheduled opening for 6th December has been delayed. Nearby Shiga Kogen, despite its altitude, still only has limited opening with less snow this week than expected. The resorts around Yuzawa in Niigata Prefecture also seemed to miss out.

Hakuba Happo One 03.12.14 [Source: Happo One FB page]
Zao Onsen, further north in Yamagata, has been blasted! Its reporting more than a metre up high, and around 70-80cms lower down ... and the snow is set to continue there into early next week at low levels.

There should be lots more snow over the weekend across Japan, up to half a metre in most places I reckon. The season should be set up nicely. The ski areas that aren't open now will open over the next few weekends, with everything usually going by Christmas.

For an idea of conditions in Japan at this time in 2012, see my posts during December 2012: Snow Report 2 December 2012 - France and Japan; and Snow Report 10 December 2012 - Japan.


Light snow was forecast on and off this week, above 1800m, and it was so light it was non-existent. There has been little fresh snow to talk about this week and the mild temperatures mean the snowline has risen. For many ski areas, its been 3 weeks since snow.

In the Southern French Alps, the snowline is up high at around 2000m or more, but at 2500m there is a whopping 1-1.5m. In the Northern French Alps, there is about 20-30cms on north-facing slopes at 2000m, and only an average of about 50cms at 2500m.

Chamonix 02.12.14 [Source: Chamonix FB page]
Slow going, but not unusual at this time of year. If you want to ski this weekend, you can head to Val Thorens (80/40cms @ 3200/2300m) where there are 26 pistes open, while the rest of the 3 Vallees is yet to open until 13th December.

There has been skiing on the top slopes at Val d'Isere (30/0cms @ 2500/1850m) since 29th November, but conditions lower are poor and sadly World Cup races on 13/14th December have been cancelled.

In more positive news, in the Southern French Alps, Isola 2000 opens tomorrow 6th December with 6 lifts and 18 pistes in the Lombard and Pelevos sectors. Isola 2000 is reporting 80cms up high and 15cms at the ski station. Serre Chevalier still has the high part of Monetier-les-Bains open, with the rest of the ski area also set for a 13th December opening.

Colder from this weekend, but not much snow in the forecast. Deja-vu!

For an idea of conditions in the French Alps last year, see my posts during December: Snow Report 1 December 2013 - Europe and Snow Report 11 December 2013 - Europe.


A little disappointing in Italy also. However, a few of the major ski areas have limited lifts running.

Ortisei 05.12.14 [Source: Val Gardena website webcams]
Monte Rosa has some slopes open at Gressoney and Alagna, and lots of snow up on the highest peaks, but none in the valleys and villages.

Madesimo reports 230cms on the peaks, 70cms on the lower slopes, and no snow at the bottom. Four lifts and six runs are open.

Madonna di Campiglio is open with very limited skiing, with 75cms at 2250m, but none at 1500m.

There is little snow in the Dolomites yet, with Val Gardena due to open soon. There's no snow below 2000m.

Colder and a little snow forecast for next week.

For an idea of conditions in Italy last year, see my posts from around the same time: Snow Report 1 December 2013 - Europe and Snow Report 11 December 2013 - Europe.