Predictions of a good dusting of snow across the Alps last week failed to materialise. Furthermore the temperatures did not drop as much as predicted and lower slopes continue to suffer. Web cams from around the resorts are rather depressing.
As a result the resorts that are providing the best skiing are high, and my Xmas skiing is looking like it will be limited to Verbier and Zermatt.
What is the outlook like for the next few days? Not promising, but things will improve. Whether it is global warming or unconnected climatic variations, early season snow conditions have been poor for the last three years, but have improved into the New Year.
At last fresh snow is coming to the Alps! The temperatures will drop below zero in most resorts from tonight for at least the next ten days. Sunny skies are expected until Wednesday and Thursday when modest snowfall is expected. I say modest, but Zermatt is expecting about 78cm, Saas Fee about 35cm and St Moritz and Andermatt about 23cm. Resorts of Bernese Oberland and most of Valais should get at least 10cm of snow.
The sun will come back next Friday, but temperatures will remain low so I’m sure the snow cannons will be busy on lower slopes and patchy South-facing slopes to make sure there is good cover for Christmas. And as it stands, things are looking pretty promising for Christmas, especially Christmas Eve.
After a promising early season, there has been a very warm November (one of the warmest on record) and virtually no snowfall in Switzerland for over a fortnight. There is also little prospect of snow in the next ten days. The warm weather has particularly hit lower slopes, with virtually no resort runs open anywhere. Of the leading Swiss resorts, Verbier looks one of the better destinations and Les Diablerets has fared reasonably well. Samnaun and Zermatt have the most lifts open. Feldberg, in the Black Forest, looks a long way from opening.
The situation doesn’t look much better anywhere else in Europe. Sunny, relatively warm days characterise Alpine resorts, with the best of the snow in the Pyrenees. North America is doing better, with distinctly chilly temperatures and good snow cover in most leading resorts.
There is expected to be new snow before Christmas. Whether it is enough for resorts to fully open in time for the holiday season, we will just have to wait and see.
There has been as much as two metres of snow in some parts of the Alps, although relatively few resorts are open. Upper Valais seems to have done particularly well, and Andermatt has had a good dump.
In Switzerland Corvatsch (St Moritz/Silvaplana) has a couple of lifts and one run open. In Davos there are five lifts operating and two runs open on Parsenn, with Jakobshorn due to open at the weekend. Engelberg has three runs open and five lifts. Zermatt has nine lifts operating and a handful of others set to open soon, all on the Matterhorn side of the resort. Grimentz–Zinal‘s web site seems to reckon fourteen runs are open, but the information is ambiguous – best to call the resort if you fancy checking it out.
Unfortunately the amount of piste available is clearly still quite limited as the resorts seek to build a good base ahead of the season hitting full throttle. No resorts have runs back to the resort open, so in all cases you need to take the lifts back down. Needless to say, you are generally paying a full lift price for a relatively modest amount of piste.
There hadn’t been fresh snow for a few days, but the snow looks to be coming back today to many areas over 2000m, and will continue for the next few days.
Expect a few more resorts to open this coming weekend and the first weekend in December, hopefully with plenty of fresh snow and sunny skies! Quck and dirty update of resort overview is here, with full details at resort pages at swisswintersports.co.uk.