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Mixed weather in the Alps
Tuesday December 16, 2014 - Email this article to a friend

It is still edging towards winter though the big falls needed in the Alps are a long way off and people are becoming increasingly worried. In Scandinavia and the Pyrenees winter has arrived. PlanetSKI reports.

Updated December 23rd

First the good news.

Snow is falling in places in the Alps and around 10cm is forecast for some resorts in the northern and western Alps over the next couple of days.

In the Dololmites it is currently snowing heavily and more is forecast.

Espace Killy has managed to open with Val d'Isere and Tignes are now linked.

Val Thorens has 90% of its slopes open and the other areas in Les 3 Vallees are open after snowmaking on an industrial scale.

The sound of snow cannons firing out artificial snow is being heard across the Alps.

Les2Alpes has some good skiing up on its glacier with 12 lifts open in the resort.

"The skiing is open from 3400 down to 2100, the pistes are in pretty good shape, one or two places you have to avoid the odd rock," said one of our reporters in the resort, Rod Frazer,  He is a director the British Alpine Ski School.

"The snow for the most part is good and grippy. The off piste is limited for any expert skiers and the snow off-piste is pretty windblown.  From the glacier down the mid station the blue runs are wide with excellent snow cover; for intermediate and advanced skiers conditions are really very good," added Rod.

There is even enough snow to make a snowman in the resort.

Les2Alpes, FranceLes2Alpes, France











Last weekend Avoriaz was able to open some of its slopes.

Avoriaz, FranceAvoriaz, France













There is good skiing in Obergurgl and Ischgl in Austria and Cervinia and Monterosa in Italy.

In Switzerland Saas-Fee still has good snow with over 2m at the top of the resort.

The neighbouring resort of Zermatt has 247km of slopes open from a possible total 360km.

Here are the slopes.

Zermatt, SwitzerlandZermatt, Switzerland












Zermatt, SwitzerlandZermatt, Switzerland













Zermatt, SwitzerlandZermatt, Switzerland













And snow was falling in the village on Tuesday morning.

Zermatt, SwitzerlandZermatt, Switzerland














Verbier is not so good, but for some it is better than they had hoped for.

"This is the view from the top of Lac de Vaux 3. First day of new season and it's not that bad - I'd expected much worse!" said one PlanetSKI reader.

Verbier, SwitzerlandVerbier, Switzerland













But sadly there is also bad news. Plenty of it. 

Most resorts in the Alps desperately need snow.

For many resorts that are open it is only the high-altitude slopes and much is on artificial snow.  

Cover is thin and soon there will be many people trying to get on to the limited areas that are open.

It is not unusual to see green slopes down in the valley at this time of year, but it remains for some way up the mountains at the moment.

Swiss AlpsSwiss Alps













Swiss AlpsSwiss Alps













There is very limited off piste and even where it is possible it is dangerous with rocks and other obstacles buried just under the surface.

"The snow cover remains thin and it is pretty sketchy out there and for those  keen to venture off-piste: be extremely aware of potential hazards lying under the surface," said the off piste guide, Henry Schniewind who is based in Val d'Isere.

There are rocks, tree roots, tree stumps, fencing and streams.

"Imagine each irregular bump in the snow could be an obstacle. Perhaps most importantly reduce your speed to about 30% of your pace on piste. This gives you more time to see obstacles and any trip-up will be much less violent," he added. 

The temperatures have also gone up in recent days with snow making difficult on some of the lower slopes.

It is though predicted to fall again as the weekend approaches.

The forecast does not predict a major fall and fingers are hovering over the panic button with Christmas and New Year just around the corner.

Skier and snowboarders are anxiously looking at the forecast and some resorts and businesses are becoming increasingly worried.

If it does not snow soon the consequences will be felt.

In Morzine in the Portes du Soleil the slopes by the village are green.

One of our readers in the resort has just sent us the following question.

"Are there any resorts a short drive away from here that have any decent snow?" he asked us.

The short answer is no.

The image below shows Courchevel 1550.

Courchevel 1550, FranceCourchevel 1550, France














However PlanetSKI reader, Lise Georgeson, is in Courchevel 1650, from where the photo was taken, and she is making the most of current conditions.

"Only a small percentage of the slopes are open, but the conditions are good considering the lack of natural snow. There is decent skiing at Val Thorens but getting back is tricky for some as you can only return to Courchevel 1850 on black runs.  Then it is a bus back to 1650 for us," said Lise.

But to move on to more good news there are some good conditions in the Pyrenees, with both the French and Spanish sides and Andorra in the middle, reporting good snow.

But perhaps the best place to be in Europe is Scandinavia. 

The PlanetSKI content editor, James Cove, is currently in Norway. 

He has visited Geilo, is currently in Hemsedal and is hoping to make it round to Beitostolen later this week.

Geilo, NorwayGeilo, Norway













Geilo, NorwayGeilo, Norway













He drove from Geilo to Hemsedal early on Tuesday morning.

The road to HemsedalThe road to Hemsedal













The road to HemsedalThe road to Hemsedal













The road to HemsedalThe road to Hemsedal













Some of the snow falling in Norway would be very welcome in the Alps.

Norwegian nightsNorwegian nights













"Scandinavia often has great early and late-season snow and once again it has come up trumps. It has been snowing steadily since we arrived on Sunday and today (Tuesday) is set to be a bluebird day after 10-15cm overnight," said James.

"More people seem to be thinking of skiing in Norway and the numbers are growing. I have been here 3 times now in the past couoe of winters and it has much to offer. It doesn't have the steep slopes of the Alps, but it makes up for it in may other ways; at the moment it has fresh powder snow!" he added.

Hemsedal, NorwayHemsedal, Norway













Hemsedal has 65cm on the lower slopes and 75cm on the upper ones and James Cove will be posting pictures are reports from Hemsedal later today.

Trysil has 60cm on both lower and upper ski areas.

It is also good in neighbouring Sweden.

Here at PlanetSKI we will have a full snow report covering Europe and North America later in the week with the latest forecasts and outlook for Christmas and New Year.

The snow will come for this winter - it is just a question of when!

Geilo, NorwayGeilo, Norway














Well, James has just sent us the following photo from Hemsedal, typical he is in a bar!

A well deserved beer!The Hemsedal Cafe














"I am in here at the moment and just skied a 5.1km run from the top of the highest lift in Scandinavia that finishes outside this bar so would be rude not to pop in for a swiftie!" said James.

"It was one of my best runs of the winter so far with grippy snow at the top and then powder at the botton with pockets of deeper stuff off to the side of the piste. Will post some more pics and details later," he added.

Oh, yeh!! We expect to hear from him again tomorrow.Wink

And this is the run he is talking about that we reported about earlier on PlanetSKI. 

It opened 2 weeks earlier than planned due to all the snow. Smile

For the spirit of the mountains

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