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Friday December 1, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

The main ski season gets ever closer & conditions are looking fantastic in the best start for many years. PlanetSKI reports. UPDATED




We're in Ischgl to be precise and the resort is having one of its best starts to winter in recent years.

Like many other resorts in Austria and across the Alps.

Later this week on PlanetSKI we will have a full report that answers a simple question:

Is this the best start to winter in years?

In the meantime here are the views of our content editor, James Cove, from Ischgl.

And it is a similar picture across many resorts in the Alps.

"So nice to have a "more normal" start to the season and combined with this weekend's forecast snow and further cold snap things are looking very good for early-season skiing conditions across the northern French Alps," said Paul Turnbull from the company Ski Weekender.  

It operates in several resorts in France including Le Grand Bornand, La Clusaz, St Gervais and Les Contamines.  

Le Grand Bornand, FranceLe Grand Bornand, France

Le Grand Bornand, FranceLe Grand Bornand, France

There are further details in this related story on PlanetSKI as we track resorts openings.  
And see here for further details about Ski Weekender and some of its new offerings this winter.

It is all looking rather good at the moment as the main ski season approaches.

It is the best in recent years and here at PlanetSKI we are delighted to say that we arrived in Ischgl in the Tirol in Austria today, Monday, to sample the early season snow.

Our editor, James Cove, finished his season last winter in Ischgl at the end of April with deep powder snow.

Ischgl, End of April 2017Ischgl, End of April 2017

















He's starting where he finished in the Alps and it seems the snow has returned!

This is what it looked like at the weekend:

Ischgl, Tirol, AustriaIschgl, Tirol, Austria
















Ischgl, Tirol, AustriaIschgl, Tirol, Austria
















Ischgl, Tirol, AustriaIschgl, Tirol, Austria
















And the forecast in Ischgl?

"Good timing. Little top up on Monday then probably sunny Tuesday/Wednesday," said Fraser Wilkin to James from

It was an early start on Monday morning.

Gatwick, 07.15AMGatwick, 07.15AM
















But worth the effort at the arriving airport:

Innsbruck, 10.00AMInnsbruck, 10.00AM

















He could barely get there quick enough...(complete with a 3-point turn in the narrow streets).

And this is the winter wonderland that is Ischgl at 2.00PM on Monday 4th December, 2017:

Ischgl, Tirol, AustriaIschgl, Tirol, Austria
















It looks like its going to be a rather good few days for James!

Our chief reporter, Jane Peel, is heading to Tignes, France, this coming weekend.

It all looks pretty good in the resort as our friends from Iglu Ski arrived in Tignes on Sunday.

They could barely wait to get there either Wink:

While our Tignes-based reporter, Squash Falconer, has been making a few touring turns in Tignes:

"Getting my legs back into touring & enjoying being out on my skis this weekend. We had a great tour up & a good chase back down the mountain! The snow is 👌" said Squash.

Squash in action Squash in action
















There has been some good October & November snowfall in Europe and North America - not everywhere, but it is looking very promising.

Canada is doing the best across the Pond - Lake Louise in Alberta already has a season total of 2.64m for the months of October and November, its best start to a season since the winter of 1950/51.

And best of all in The Alps it remains cold - very cold in places.

This preserves the snow that has already fallen, allows the cannons to produce artificial snow and means the ground remains cold.

See here for a broader analysis:

And here as we follow resorts opening in Europe.

Many resorts are opening with plenty of snow.

Grandvalira, AndorraGrandvalira, Andorra














Grandvalira, AndorraGrandvalira, Andorra















A full and detailed snow report below, that was filed on Friday 1st December, comes from Fraser Wilkin at

Snow conditions in the Alps are generally excellent for early December, with most areas now having a decent base at altitude, and in many cases at low levels too (especially in the north and east).

There are some exceptions, however.

The most obvious of these being the Aosta valley, where the likes of Cervinia and Champoluc are still short of snow.

Others include the northern Piedmont and western Lombardy (e.g. Alagna, Madesimo), and parts of the southern French Alps (e.g. Les Orres, Pra-Loup).
After a cold weekend, it will warm up next week, though not for long as we are expecting a return to cold and snowy weather by the weekend of 9/10 December.



Austria is the stand-out country in the Alps right now with excellent snow conditions just about everywhere.

That doesn't mean that everything is open of course but, if you are lucky enough to be skiing in Austria this weekend, conditions will be superb with plenty of cold powdery snow on offer.

Lech (55/115cm) and St Anton (35/130cm) have just had their best opening day for many years.

Elsewhere in Austria, Ischgl (20/60cm) and Obergurgl (69/184cm) are two big name resorts that have been open for a while and are also in great shape.

Picture postcard scenes in the Austrian Vorarlberg. This is Schröcken – 1 December 2017 – Photo: warth-schroecken.comPicture postcard scenes in the Austrian Vorarlberg. This is Schröcken – 1 December 2017 – Photo:















Snow conditions are generally very good in the northern half of the French Alps, roughly from Grenoble northwards.

Further south, with one or two exceptions, much more snow is still needed.
In the north, the Portes du Soleil has done well this week with plenty of fresh snow.

Some skiing has already been possible this season on the Swiss side while, on the French side, Avoriaz (45/80cm) will open a handful of pistes this weekend.

Indeed, a lot more French resorts will be partially open from tomorrow, including Alpe d’Huez (5/50cm).
Val d’Isère/Tignes (35/80cm) and Val Thorens (85/110cm) still head the pack in terms of available terrain, however.

Looking good in Courchevel a week ahead of opening– 1 December 2017 – Photo: courchevel.comLooking good in Courchevel a week ahead of opening– 1 December 2017 – Photo:
















Snow conditions in Italy are more mixed than elsewhere in the Alps.
In the Dolomites (where there is fresh snow) conditions are excellent with more and more runs opening all the time.

Kronplatz (15/50cm) currently offers the most terrain but this may change this weekend.
In the far south-west, Prato Nevoso (60/100cm) also has plenty of snow, with another big dump forecast on Friday night/Saturday.
In between, the picture is much more mixed with currently very little snow in the Aosta valley, where skiing in Cervinia (0/130cm) is still confined to the very top.

Some snow is forecast here today and tomorrow but it won’t be nearly as heavy as further south (i.e. from Sestriere southwards).

Good piste skiing in Sulden am Ortler right now – 1 December 2017 – Photo: ortlerskiarena.comGood piste skiing in Sulden am Ortler right now – 1 December 2017 – Photo:

















Snow conditions are generally excellent in Switzerland, with the exception of parts of the south (Ticino).

Snow is lying at very low altitude across most of the Swiss Alps, and even right into the lowlands in the north.
In the northern Swiss Alps, Engelberg now has 40/305cm of snow depending on altitude and is as impressive as anywhere right now.

Further east, Davos (20/85cm) and Laax (10/120cm) are also in great shape, even if the number of open pistes in both resorts is still limited.
Further west, Zermatt (5/60cm) has not seen as much fresh snow in recent days but still offers over 50km of pistes spread over its three main ski areas.

Snow conditions in Engelberg are as good as anywhere in the Alps – 1 December 2017 – Photo: titlis.chSnow conditions in Engelberg are as good as anywhere in the Alps – 1 December 2017 – Photo:












Rest of Europe

The Pyrenees have also been enjoying some wintry weather this week, with more and more resorts opening.

The pick of these, at least in terms of extent, remains Spain’s Baqueira Beret (20/50cm) which will have over 100km open this weekend.

The Scottish ski season is springing into life earlier than normal this year.

Thanks to the cold and snowy weather, Glencoe (5/20cm) fired up its first lifts on Tuesday, followed by Cairngorm (5/20cm) on Thursday.
Most other non-European ski options are in Scandinavia.

Norway’s Geilo, for example, can offer 14 trails on an upper base some 90cm deep.

Lots of fresh snow in the French Pyrenees. This is the Val d’Azun – 1 December 2017 – Photo: valdazun.comLots of fresh snow in the French Pyrenees. This is the Val d’Azun – 1 December 2017 – Photo:














North America



It’s snowing again in Whistler, which means that conditions are excellent for the time of year with 146cm packed down on the upper mountain.

There is also lots of great skiing to be had further inland, with the majority of trails now open in Lake Louise (89/139cm).

Excellent early snow conditions in Whistler – 1 December 2017 – Photo: early snow conditions in Whistler – 1 December 2017 – Photo:

















Snow conditions in the western US remain mixed, and many Colorado and Utah resorts could do with a big dump to ignite their season.

Colorado’s Breckenridge, for example, has a modest upper base of just 46cm, much of it man-made.

Utah’s Snowbird resumes operations on Saturday and is also heavily reliant on artificial snow with just 40cm up top.

For the best snow coverage you need to head further north to Jackson Hole (125cm upper base) or further still to Mt Baker (165cm upper base).

For daily weather bulletins from Fraser then follow it all at

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

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