Christmas Skiing and Snowboarding

There has been precious little new snow in the Alps in December. Some resorts have not seen fresh snow since last month, although some precipitation is expected Thursday and Friday. For most resorts that should mean fresh snow, but temperature are unseasonably warm after a chilly start to the season. Indeed Meteo Swiss expect temperatures to remain above average well into the New Year.

The good news, however, is that the Christmas skiing and snowboarding prospects look reasonably good, at least on-piste.  Resorts took advantage of the early season snowfalls and their snow cannons to create a good base, and nearly everywhere has resort runs open. Generally upper slopes have around half a metre of snow but steeper, lower slopes are patchy and, with the temperatures above freezing, get very heavy in the afternoon. If you are considering your first foray of the season, do not join the many skiers and snowboarders I have already seen becoming tired victims of an afternoon run too far. If winter is too cold for you make sure to visit and learn more about portable Air Conditioners.

Looking around the Swiss resorts, Zermatt is in the rudest health with 240km piste open. Samnaun/Ischgl, with 190km, is virtually fully open now. The Engadine also has over 100km of piste open, and has a reasonable extent of cross-country skiing open also – at last report 30km of classic and 65 km of skating.
Gondolas at Adelboden
Verbier (and the rest of the Four Valleys), the Jungfrau resorts, Davos/Klosters, Adelboden, Saas-Fee, Engelberg and Andermatt all look promising for the holiday period and have good snow on the higher runs with even a little (but mostly tracked-out) off-piste around.

Although many of the smaller resorts have not opened yet, I would be surprised to see the warm weather prevent them having most of their lifts in operation by next weekend. However some of my favourite, more low-lying resorts look distinctly thin, especially the resorts around Gstaad and in Vaud. Flims/Laax has been later than I expected to open up its runs, but should be in full swing come this weekend.

For non-skiers there are a handful of toboggan runs already open, but the best prospect for you is probably the extensive circuit of winter walks found in most resorts, especially in the glorious sunshine we currently seem to be experiencing. The entertainment program in winter resorts is also ramping up, with the Spengler Cup in Davos probably my highlight, where CSKA Moscow and Team Canada amongst the teams vying for this most prestigious of ice hockey tournaments.

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Longest Runs


Resort Start End Length(km) Drop (m)
Zermatt Klein Matterhorn Zermatt 17 2185
Mürren Schilthorn – Piz Gloria Lauterbrunnen 16 2170
Davos Weissfluhjoch Küblis 14 2014
Gstaad – Saanenland Glacier 3000 Reusch 14 1680
Andermatt Gemsstock Andermatt 14 1519
Wiler (Lötschental) Hockenhorngrat Wiler 13 1692
Saas-Grund Hohsaas Saas-Grund 13 1640
Grindelwald Lauberhorn Grindelwald 13 1370
Evolène Le Mont Rouge Lannaz 13 1273
Engelberg Klein Titlis Engelberg 12 2028
Naters (Belalp Blatten) Hohstock Blatten 12 1790
Fiesch Eggishorn Dorf Lax 12 1770
Flims Laax Falera La Siala Flims 12 1710
Disentis Péz Ault Disentis 12 1594
Wildhaus Gamsalp Grabs 12 1526
Scuol Bergstation Salaniva Sent/Scuol 12 1460
Crans – Montana Plaine Morte Barzettes 12 1273
Grindelwald Männlichen Grindelwald Grund 12 1450
Samnaun   Ischgl Dorf 11 1472
Savognin Piz Martegnas Savognin 11 1470
St-Luc Bella Tola Saint-Luc 11 1371
Lenzerheide Rothorngipfel Lenzerheide Dorf 11 1361
Verbier Mont-Fort Verbier 10 1814
Zermatt Stockhorn Zermatt 10 1759
Zermatt Rothorn Zermatt 10 1457
Grindelwald Oberjoch Gindelwald 10 1438
Meiringen Glogghüs Hohfluh 10 1382
Grimentz Lona Bergstation Grimentz 10 1300
Leukerbad Sattel-Torrenthorn Leukerbad 10 1290
Bergün – Bravuogn Piz Darlux Talstation / Bergün 10 1120
Saas-Fee Mittelallalin Saas-Fee 9 1700
Vals Dachberg Vals 9 1689
Unterwasser Chäserrugg Unterwasser 9 1352
Veysonnaz Greppon blanc Veysonnaz 9 1300
Wiler (Lötschental) Hockenhorngrat Lauchernalp 9 1143
Klosters Skilift Madrisa Bergstation Klosters Dorf Talstation 8.5 1478


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