Snow, Sun, Piste Basher! It snowed lots in Tignes this week...
This Week's Snow Headlines
- A second weekend of big snowfalls in the Alps - up to 60cm more snow reported.
- More than 40 ski areas were open in North America last weekend.
- More resorts open early (some partially) including Verbier, Wengen, Schladming, Baqueira Beret, Courchevel, Panorama and many others.
- Big name resorts open in North America this coming weekend including Whistler, Stowe, Heavenly and Squaw Valley.
- Ski season starting early in Spanish Pyrenees.
- Ski areas in Eastern Europe open early for the season.
- More snow in the Dolomites.
- Not all good in US, as small ski areas in the South delay opening as it's too warm.
It's proving difficult not to get excited about early snowfall in the Alps after two successive weekends of big dumps has brought around a metre of cumulative snowfall depth to many higher slopes, and snow down to the valley in many areas too.
Resorts have been opening early for 'season preview weekends' or just opening early full stop and those that were already open have seen amazing early November powder conditions for a second week.
But, it's still early in the winter, so the next few weeks are going to be crucial. Keep everything crossed.
There has also been more snow in Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, the Dolomites and the Pyrenees where Spain's Baqueira Beret has announced it will open early for the season this weekend.
Across the Atlantic there was a fairly unprecedented mass opening of ski areas right across the continent with around 45 ski centres in 16 states and provinces from East to West all opening, some claiming their earliest opening for decades, one since 1949! Resorts in the East and Midwest were able to open thanks to cold temps for snowmaking whilst in the West there have been some heavy snowfalls.
In the Forecast
There is a little more snow in the forecast for Europe; not as much as the previous weekends but we do expect some scattered snowfall late this coming weekend. The Eastern Alps will likely see the best falls, with up to 30cm possible in places, but lighter top-ups elsewhere should be reasonably widespread.
Next week sees quieter conditions back in charge, with temperatures below seasonal averages until the last week of the month.
OPENING TIMES SUBJECT TO CHANGE!
Some of the early openings are partial and temporary, and may be weekends only - so check with the tourist office!
Always check local conditions and resort opening times directly before travelling!
See when and where it's going to snow...
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 has had two great snowfalls this month which have brought up to a metre of snow to higher slopes and snow right down to the valley. Ski areas are either open already, opening early or just taunting people by putting up pictures of how good conditions are (but sticking to their December opening dates).
The eight glaciers that have been open since September have had powder conditions all November and the Dachstein, with a 2.4m (8 foot) base, the deepest snow in the northern hemisphere at present. Hintertux, with a 1350m skiable vertical and 45km of runs open may have the biggest ski area open too. Obergurgl, opening today, Thursday 16th November, may be offering more though. About a dozen Austrian centres were open last week including Kitzbuhel and Schladming and the number looks set to get in to the 20s this weekend as more areas open including Zell am See for a 'season preview weekend.'
After a few months when French skiing was looking a bit thin on the ground with Les 2 Alpes forced to cancel its planned late October opening and Tignes getting by with a 30cm base on the glacier things have been completely transformed by the two big snowfalls of the first half of November with ski areas reporting 50-60cm of snow cover at 1800m and up to a metre on the highest slopes – most of it fresh.
Val Thorens is the big opening this coming weekend, finally ending Tignes reign as the only centre open in the French Alps. Both areas report excellent conditions and Val Thorens say that 70% of their terrain will be open from day one – the best opening conditions for at least four years. Courchevel opened a few runs for free skiing on Wednesday, as it did a year ago, and there are signs that other French areas may open this weekend because of the great conditions.
Italy is having its own good November with the same snow in the Alps, plus two good snowfalls in the Dolomites where Cortina and the Three Peaks of the Dolomiti Superski Area are already open, having joined the glacier areas at Val Senales and Cervinia. Passo Tonale has also opened. The number of open Italian areas looks set to jump in to double figures this weekend with more areas opening early including San Martino di Castrozza / Rolle Pass in Trentino, a third are in the Dolomiti Superski region, and Cimone. Livigno has announced big snowfalls and that 20km of cross-country trails are open but has not yet said when it will open its ski lifts. Base depths are at around the metre mark on upper slopes at all open areas.
Big snowfalls in Switzerland over the past week and the season is really starting to take off here too. Snow depths are around the metre mark and more than 15 ski areas had opened by the start of this week with more set to follow this coming weekend. Meiringen, which is one of the swiss resorts to report 60cm of fresh snow earlier this week, is one of the areas newly opened whilst Grindelwald – Wengen, who report 40cm of fresh snow, say they'll be opening early, this weekend. Most of the already-open Swiss areas have had big snowfalls too, including Glacier 3000 (55cm) and Laax (52cm). Engelberg is reporting the deepest base in the country at two metres.
There was fresh snow down to the valley in the Cairngorms on Saturday and Sunday, but this thawed back up to the upper slopes on the mountains by Wednesday. Currently meteorologists opinions are divided as to whether a cold front from the north or a warm one from the south will be victorious over the coming week.
Its looking good in the Pyrenees and one of the area's largest resorts, Baqueira Beret in Spain, has announced it will open a week ahead of schedule, this weekend. It reports snow depths of up to 60cm mid-mountain and expects to have at least 30 runs open. So far no other areas are known to have decided to open early too, but the whole mountain range has a good pre-season snow covering.
Eastern Europe has also been enjoying good early season conditions and ski areas have begun opening early. Among them two high-lying ski resorts Slovenian resort Kanin and Vogel which opened at the weekend and a third Slovenian ski area, Kranjska Gora, has announced it will open this coming weekend as well.
About a dozen ski Areas are open already in Finland, Norway and Sweden with more planning to join them this weekend. In Lapland, Levi and Ruka are the main centres open, the former hosting world Cup slalom races last weekend; In Norway Kvitfjell and Skeikampen are open daily, Beitostølen at weekends. In Sweden it's Idre Fjall and Kabdalis that are open already. Snow depths across the region are typically in the 20-30cm bracket.
Canada had more than a dozen ski areas open last weekend, mainly in the West and most in Alberta which actually had more centres open than any other North American state or province with a whole nine to choose from. There were three resorts open in BC including Panorama in the East of the province claiming its earliest opening for years and Cypress and Grouse Mountains on the West. The BC big gun, Whistler Blackcomb, joins the party this Friday. It's reporting heavy snowfall at present. On the eastern side of Canada ski areas have begun opening but more with the use of snow-making. Mont Sainte Sauveur was the first, last weekend.
Last weekend was quite a big one in the US for early-opening ski resorts although as many of them were small hills off the international or even national radar, few seemed to notice. But J2Ski did and we counted more than 30 areas opening across the country in 13 separate states – which is quite something for early November. Unprecedented perhaps. There was a combination of reasons why – good snow conditions in the north west, cold weather for snowmaking in the North East and Midwest and high altitude resorts in Colorado that had planned to open early November anyway. Ironically it's those ski areas in Colorado that probably have the most marginal cover as it has been rather warm for snowmaking and what natural snow there had been in October (not a lot) has largely melted away leading one smaller ski area in the state to say its delaying its opening plans to December.
But elsewhere resorts were claiming opening days that were their earliest in 20 or 30 years and in one case in its 68 year history! More big name resorts will open this weekend in time for the Thanksgiving Holiday period including Vail-run Stowe and Heavenly. Beaver Creek Resort and Kirkwood are slated to open Wednesday, Nov. 22, followed by Vail itself, the country's largest resort of Park City Mountain and Lake Tahoe's Northstar on Thursday, Nov. 23.