MORE RESORTS OPEN AS WEATHER CLEARS
24th November 2016
The weather cleared across large parts of the Alps at the weekend. With more resorts opening the season of 2016/17 is underway. PlanetSKI reports. UPDATED
The sun has shown its face in the northern Alps after the recent stormy weather.
A team from PlanetSKI is in Val Thorens for its official opening weekend – see here for our report on 48-hours in Val Thorens.
On Sunday from the highest point of the highest resort in Europe – Val Thorens.
Saturday morning – That feeling of being On top of the world in Val Thorens.
So, what about elsewhere in the past few days?
See this latest PlanetSKI story from Friday as we post videos and pictures of the new snow falling.
“Was a great day in Cervinia today training our team. Great powder, snowy and at the end of the day the snow clouds cleared and we could see the snow clustered Matterhorn!” said the ski instructor, Warren Smith, from the Italian resort of Cervinia.
Parts of Italy, Switzerland and the southern French Alps have seen the most of the fresh snow.
The image below comes from the Milky Way area that straddles Italy and France.
It was sent to us on Friday.
As we said earlier this weekend a team from PlanetSKI is in Val Thorens in France for its official opening.
Our editor, James Cove, and news reporter, Katie Bamber, arrived on Friday night with plenty of snow at resort level.
Some of the slopes opened last weekend after all the recent snow and now it is the start proper – there is ski testing, a whole host of events and of course a spot of partying.
And Espace Killy also opened this weekend.
Tignes has already been open for a while and now Val d’Isere fired up its lifts too.
PISTES OPEN ON THE VAL D’ISÈRE SIDE
From this Saturday, the Pissaillas glacier/Iseran, Fornet, Solaise, and Bellevarde sectors will be open. You can ski to and from the Ski Force Winter Tour village on Solaise. The link between Val d’Isère and Tignes will be open.
PISTES OPEN ON THE TIGNES SIDE
The sectors Grande Motte, Tovière, Aiguille Percée and Palet will be open from Saturday on. You can ski in and from the resort.
PlanetSKI will be in Tignes and Val d’Isere later this week so look out for our reports as we head over after our visit to Val Thorens.
Meanwhile snow has started to fall at last in the USA as the Thanksgiving holiday weekend got underway – see here for our updated report
Elsewhere on PlanetSKI we have published an extensive review of which ski resorts to head to for December skiing and snowboarding if you want to squeeze in a cheeky early season trip.
Our full and detailed weekly snow report below, that was filed on Thursday 24th November, comes from Fraser Wilkin at www.weathertoski.co.uk.
Generally speaking, conditions in the Alps have deteriorated since the exceptional November snowfalls we witnessed just 10 or so days ago.
It’s not all bad news, however!
Some higher parts of the south-western Alps (e.g. Cervinia, Monte Rosa) have seen significant new snow above 2200m in recent days, and it is today snowing heavily at altitude close to the French-Italian border, including in resorts such as Val d’Isère, Val Cenis, Montgenèvre, Sestriere and Isola 2000.
By contrast, the northern side of the Alps has been plagued by the Foehn this week, with exceptionally mild temperatures and a rapid loss of low-lying snow.
Snow conditions in the Alps are therefore very mixed right now and will remain so this weekend.
For Val d’Isère, the timing could not be better for its opening on Saturday, with masses of new snow and improving weather.
The top halves of Zermatt, Saas-Fee and the Monte Rosa region should also be skiing superbly, as will anywhere with skiing available above 2200m in the south-western quarter of the Alps.
Further north and east is a different story, however.
Ischgl opens today and can offer a reasonable amount of piste skiing, but the snow quality is fairly average and conditions on the Austrian glaciers will be hard-packed, thanks to recent wind.
Across the pond, snow conditions are now improving after a protracted mild spell, which forced many western US resorts to postpone their opening.
Most Austrian ski areas have been suffering from mild Foehn winds this week, which has led to a rapid loss of snow at low altitude.
Higher up the cover is still ok, even if the snow quality is less than perfect right now (generally humid below 2300m and windblown/hard-packed above).
The big news this week is today’s opening of non-glacial Ischgl.
It may only have a 40cm upper base but with 112km of pistes it is easily the most extensive open area in Austria, perhaps even the Alps.
Among the best of the rest are Sölden (10/123cm) and Hintertux (25/105cm) which have 80km and 50km of pistes open respectively.
Generally speaking, however, lots more snow is needed in the next two or three weeks if the majority of resorts are going to be in decent shape in the run up to Christmas.
As mentioned earlier, it is currently snowing heavily at altitude in Val d’Isère (5/95cm) which opens on Saturday, joining neighbouring Tignes (30/100cm) which has offered skiing since 1 October.
Expect better weather and excellent conditions this weekend.
Val Thorens (80/130cm) is the only other major French resort open on a daily basis.
A handful of others will join the fray this weekend, including Montgenèvre (40/70cm) – where there will also be plenty of fresh snow at altitude- and La Clusaz, which hasn’t seen much fresh snow but has enough on its La Balme sector to offer some reasonable piste skiing.
The best snow conditions in Italy are at altitude in the western Italian Alps, where there has been fresh snow.
Cervinia (40/150cm) will again be our pick this weekend, once the weather quietens down, with plenty of fresh snow and top to bottom skiing.
Parts of the Monte Rosa region are also expected to open this weekend and, at altitude at least, should also be in fabulous condition.
There has been less new snow further east but a number of resorts are partially open, including Passo Tonale (40/80cm) and Cortina (0/25cm).
The best snow conditions in Switzerland remain at altitude in the far south, where Zermatt (0/110cm) and Saas-Fee (20/120cm) have both seen fresh snow above 2300m, even if it hasn’t been as much as initially forecast.
There are a number of partial openings elsewhere in the country this week, including Davos (0/30cm) and Grimentz (20/60cm).
However, many resorts are suffering from the mild and Foehny conditions that have prevailed across most of the country this week.
Rest of Europe
There is still not a great deal open in Europe beyond the Alps.
The recent mild weather has also affected the Pyrenees, with snow cover still patchy in many resorts.
However, Cauterets (France) should be open by 3 December.
Some skiing is possible in in Finland, though mainly on artificial snow – Ruka now has a base 13-30cm deep depending on altitude.
You can also ski in a limited capacity in both Sweden and Norway, with Hemsedal (50cm upper base) reporting 10cm of fresh snow on Tuesday and skiing as well as anywhere in Scandinavia right now.
Scotland has some snow again, but not quite enough (at the time of writing) to open any lifts.
Whistler (126cm upper base) opened a day early yesterday, with Blackcomb following suit today, as scheduled.
You can’t ski back to resort yet, but higher up there is good snow cover for the time of year, with plenty more in the forecast.
The most extensive open ski area in western Canada, however, remains Sunshine Village (79cm upper base) and Lake Louise (56cm upper base), with 70 and 74 open trails respectively.
Conditions are improving in the western US, with new snow for many resorts earlier this week and more forecast later this weekend.
Lots of resorts are now partially open, with more set to join them over the next few days, even if the extent of terrain on offer remains limited.
In California, Mammoth (95cm upper base) currently has 13 trails open, while Colorado’s Breckenridge (45cm upper base) has just three.
For daily weather bulletins from Fraser then follow it all at www.weathertoski.co.uk.
See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.
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