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J2Ski's Where to Ski in December 2023

J2Ski's Where to Ski in December 2023

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Started by Admin in Snow Forecasts and Snow Reports

J2Ski's Where to Ski in December 2023

Admin posted 02-Dec

A snowy November, and big snowfalls ongoing and forecast for the week ahead, have kicked off the European ski season in style.

Flaine, France, one of many Alpine resorts where it's bucketing down snow today...

We are into the final month of the year and this is, of course, the big one for ski areas opening – we start December (and winter by the meteorological measure) with about 200 centres open already, and by the end of that month the number will be somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 ...no one really knows how many of the world's smaller resorts are still operating!

This December is pretty much the opposite of last year, when Western North American ski areas had seen huge snow storms and European resorts were getting nervous about late snow. This year, the Alps are celebrating after one of the snowiest Novembers of recent years, while many North American areas are finally seeing some snow after weeks of predominantly dry weather.

Re-publication :- our Snow Report Summary, being the text above this line, is free to re-publish, but must be clearly credited to www.J2ski.com with text including "J2Ski Snow Report" linked to this page - thank you.

Austria dominated the world in terms of the number of ski areas it had open compared to everywhere else through October and the first half of November.

It has now been overtaken, but still starts December with more terrain open than anywhere else, thanks to big accumulations in early November and snowfall down to low levels in the final week.

So the best start to December in quite a few years with most of the country's areas set to open the second or third weekend of the month.

France was a little late to the party for the 23-24 season, but the heavens opened and it has been one of the snowiest Novembers in recent memory.

A number of French Alpine areas opened (or pre-opened, for weekends, like La Clusaz and Flaine) this weekend, catching up with those in Italy, Austria and Switzerland. Tignes and Val Thorens have been open a fortnight too.

Tignes opened with 1300m of skiable vertical, the most in the world at that point, and Val Thorens now has 150km of slopes open, pipping Ischgl/Samnaun to claim the most in the world.

French resorts opening this weekend include Alpe d'Huez, Chamrousse, La Clusaz, Les 2 Alpes, and Montgenevre to name but a few, and half a dozen more in the French Pyrenees.

Almost all the rest are expected to open on either the 9th/10th December or the following weekend.

The final week of November saw temperatures drop and snowfall return and the forecast for the first week of December is looking promising.

Cortina d'Ampezzo and Madonna di Campiglio are among the big-name areas already open with much of the country's biggest area, Dolomiti Superski, expected to open from this coming weekend.

As we start December, Switzerland has more centres open than any other European country, having just overtaken Austria that has been able to make that claim for the past 10 weeks.

Many of the country's leading resorts including Andermatt, Arosa, Crans Montana, Davos, Engelberg, Gstaad, Laax, Murren, Saas-Fee, St Moritz, Verbier and Zermatt are all already open, thanks to a mostly cold and snowy November, so there are far fewer big names waiting to open here than in the other big name ski nations in the Alps.

Samnaun leads with its shared cross-border terrain with Ischgl for the most runs open - or at least accessible - from Switzerland, nearing 150km.

St Moritz has 120km already spread across its three main areas and while Zermatt-Cervinia 'only' has 70km open as we compile this report, it often claims the most open in the world on the first weekend of December so expect that number to at least double.

Quite a few Swiss areas have only opened weekends through November but are expected to open daily from this weekend if they're not already.

Things were looking a bit lacklustre for the start of the season in the Pyrenees a couple of weeks back, but a decent dump in the final week of November led Spain's biggest area, Baqueira Beret, to open a week early crediting a 35cm snowfall, as, unexpectedly, did France's smaller Porte Puymorens.

Andorra's resorts will open this weekend, and most of the rest in the region over the following two. The first full week in December includes several public holidays in Andorra and Spain so centres are keen to open what they have to encourage early visitors.

It has been a really good November for Scandinavian ski areas with most of the region's larger resorts including Sweden's Are and Salen and Norway's Geilo, Hemsedal, Trysil and Voss now open, and predominantly sub-zero temperatures reported.

It's still been getting down to the -20s (C) in Lapland and northern Scandinavia and some Norwegian centres have also seen up to 50cm of snowfall in recent days.

So it's currently looking good for the start of the season and, in northern Scandinavian, the disappearance of the sun under the horizon in a few weeks until early January.

Eastern Europe
None of Eastern Europe's well-known ski areas have opened for the season yet, but what signs there are for the season ahead have looked promising in recent days and weeks with sub-zero temperatures dominating and forecast for the start of December, with regular snowfalls too.

The northeast's biggest area, Slovakia's Jasna, opens the first weekend of the month and reports the snow lying up to half a metre deep. It's probably a few more weeks for Bulgarian ski areas but it's looking fairly promising here too.

The Scottish Highlands, home to the country's five ski areas, has seen a predominantly cold November, but still suffered the warm weather spikes which saw much of the occasional snowfalls up high thaw away again before the next snowfall arrived.

Nonetheless, Glencoe says it will open up its access chairlift for ski tourers to use to reach any high-altitude snow outwith the ski area boundary from December 2nd.

The Lecht and Glenshee will open as soon as there's adequate snow.

All five centres have all-weather snowmaking machines which will allow them to create small snow areas for beginners and terrain parks even if Mother Nature doesn't deliver enough natural stuff pre-Christmas.

Cairngorm says they'll open Christmas week, if not before, and are hoping their upper-mountain access funicular will be open again by then.

North America
It has not been a particularly epic start to the 23-24 season in Canada so far with limited snowfall and until recently warmer than average temperatures, particularly noticeable in the East.

The final week of November did see a better foot-plus dump in the west and more centres in Ontario and Quebec opened thanks to snowmaking. Big names like Tremblant and Whistler are open for the season and centres not yet open will be joining them over the next three weekends.

Whistler and Sunshine start December with the most terrain open in the country – about 20km of slopes each, that's about 10% of Whistler's total terrain.

The ski season in the US has had a slower start than across Europe.

Most of the country's big ski areas are now open, with the Thanksgiving holiday at the end of November a major opening-day target, but with not much snowfall so far, what's open at each is, on the whole, limited to just a few miles of runs.

There have been snowfalls, coast-to-coast, with reports of up to a foot in the Rockies in the final week of November, but that's been the exception in a dry few months.

California's Mammoth has about the most so far, with about 12 miles of runs open on a foot-deep base.

Alta in Utah is posting the deepest base with over three feet lying up top they say. Some way to go to reach its record 900 inches of snowfall total topped last winter!
The Admin Man

Edited 1 time. Last update at 02-Dec-2023