Just as the summer glacier skiing season is in full swing record breaking temperatures also arrive. PlanetSKI reports.


The Alps, as well as many other places in Europe, are experiencing an unprecendented June heatwave.

Records have been broken.

On Friday lunchtime, the all-time high for France of 44.1°C was exceeded in Carpentras near Avignon in the south east of the country.
And it was expected to get hotter still there and elsewhere in the country later in the day.
According to the weather forecaster, Meteo-Alpes, the Pic du Midi at 2887m in the French Pyrenees has registered its highest temperature since records began in the 19th Century.

Temperatures have been recorded of more than 35°C in Chamonix (1035m) and 29°C in Val d’Isère (1860m).

Switzerland is also suffering.

“Killing heat in the Valais right now, even reaching 40c in some of the mountain resorts,” said one of our readers from Nendaz in Switzerland on Twitter, Valais Dude.
Swiss balcony view

Swiss balcony view

In France, Fraser Wilkin of WeatherToSki says temperatures are expected to reach 37°C in Chamonix and 31°C in Val d’Isere.

This is a record – for Val d’Isère at least.

The resort is encouraging visitors to visit the cooling Lac de l’Ouillette above 2500m.

Lac de l'Ouillette, Val d'Isere

Lac de l’Ouillette, Val d’Isere – photo resort

Summer skiing on Val d’Isere’s Pisaillas glacier, which is at just under 3500m – started on 8th June and is due to continue until 14th July.

The runs have still got snow but it’s looking patchy around them.

Pisaillas glacier

Pisaillas glacier webcam image, Friday 28th June

The weather has led to hundreds of paraponters landing on the summit of Mt Blanc this week due to highly favourable flying conditions and thermals.

An estimated 200 pilots top-landed Mt Blanc on Wednesday alone.

Paraponters on Mt Blanc

Paraponters on Mt Blanc

Photo c/o Cristian-Antoniu Balan.

Some pilots in the nearby Red Bull A-Alps event have been reaching reported heights of 5,500m.

Earlier in the week the first ski base jump was made from the summit of Mt Blanc.

Base jumping from Mont Blanc

Base jumping from Mont Blanc

Meterologists have expressed concern that some of Mont Blanc’s ‘eternal’ snow at the top could melt.

The heatwave is escaping nobody and nowhere in France.

Paris schools have been closed and some important exams have been postponed as temperatures soar to above 40ºC.

Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic have also all recorded their highest June temperatures ever this week.

Check out the Gif below showing the temperature across Europe from Wednesday 26th June through to Friday 12th July.


Similar conditions are affecting resorts such as Zermatt, Verbier and Crans Montana in Switzerland.

Zermatt Matterhorn webcam

Zermatt-Matterhorn webcam, Friday 28th June

What does this mean for mountain towns and glacier resorts that have started summer skiing?

Glaciers open for summer skiing will be hit by the heatwave.

The Grande Motte glacier in Tignes and Les 2 Alpes in the western French Alps started their summer ski sessions last weekend.

“The snow won’t disappear overnight – but it does hugely increase the risk of poor or even unskiable snow conditions on some of the Alpine glaciers later in the summer,” Fraser reports.

In this heat the snow is melting at an alarming rate.
“… unless there is a major cool down soon, it won’t be long before the glacier begins to look threadbare.”
Grande Motte, Tignes

Grande Motte, Tignes webcam, Friday 28th June

Les2Alpes glacier webcam

Les2Alpes glacier webcam, Friday 28th June

Extraordinary temperatures of 18°C are forecast at 3,000m in the French Alps.
“As there hasn’t even been an overnight refreeze, the snow has been slushy from much earlier on in the morning than would normally be expected at this time of year.”
“Thanks largely to the massive base depths on the Austrian glaciers, the situation is slightly less critical further east in the Alps,” Fraser adds.
But it has still been very warm, so the snow conditions will be more steadily deteriorating.

Here’s summer skiing on Tignes’ Grande Motte on Tuesday 25th June, just before heatwave hit:


In some parts of the Alps the temperature could hit 18ºC at 3,000m and 8ºC at 4,000m.

“A major heatwave is expected this week as a plume of exceptionally hot air from Africa will lead to potentially record-breaking temperatures in the Alps,” said our resident alpine weather expert, Fraser Wilkin from weathertoski.co.uk.

In the Alps it will be the hottest in France and Switzerland.

The French glacier resorts of Tignes and Les2Alpes opened last weekend as we reported at the time.

Summer glacier skiing in Tignes

Summer glacier skiing in Tignes

The glacier ski conditions are good following a cold and snowy May but the approaching heatwave will have a significant impact.

“This is bad news for summer skiing in the Alps, as the glaciers are expected to take a hammering from the scorching temperatures over the next few days,” added Fraser.

The news is less bad in Austria where Hintertux remains open.

It had higher levels of winter snow and the heatwave in the latter part of this week will be less pronounced.

We were skiing in Hintertux in May and preparations were already being made for the summer season with snow being farmed and stored.

PlanetSKI editor, James Cove, explains how it works:

See here for our special in-depth feature on where it is possible to ski in the summer months.

Both in the northern and southern hemispheres:

The heatwave could see temperatures as high as 40ºC in the valleys and higher up will have an impact.

“This doesn’t call for immediate panic though – the snow won’t disappear overnight – but it does hugely increase the risk of poor or even unskiable snow conditions on some of the Alpine glaciers later in the summer and/or before their scheduled closure,” said Fraser.

Here at PlanetSKI we will be keeping an eye on the impact on the summer skiing conditions so do check back…

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