“Best start” to ski season in 15 years

Snow is building and “stabilising beautifully”

At least a dozen French ski resorts have opened early this year following heavy snowfall across the Alps and Pyrenees. Snow depths of 244cm in Kaunertal, Austria and 280cm in Val Senales, Italy have also been reported.

Among the resorts to open early are Alpe d’Huez, Courchevel, La Clusaz, Les Angles, Pic du Midi, Porte Puymorens and Baqueira-Beret, while Chamonix will open a fortnight earlier than scheduled on December 7. Many of these were not due to open until November 30.

“Last year the snow came around the first week of December, and all at once,” the Ski Club of Great Britain told the newspaper The Sunday Times. “This season, staggered snowfalls are allowing the snow to build and stabilise beautifully.”

Fraswer Wilkin, a weather forecaster said: “It’s definitely among the best starts to a season in the past 15 years, but we’ve had great starts before that have gone mushy. The jet stream will track further south this year, directing storm systems in generally the right direction, but if it tracks too far south, it could push warm southerly air over the mountains.”

Ski Solutions, a tailor-made ski tour operator and travel agent, says it has received an “avalanche” of enquiries from enthusiasts who want to hit the slopes before Christmas.

“North America too has seen an excellent start to the season, in particular the Canadian resorts of Whistler and Banff, which have all been open for over a week already, and many of the Colorado resorts such as Breckenridge,” said Craig Burton, Ski Solutions’ managing director.

“Consistent storms throughout November and cold temperatures have laid down a fantastic snow base across much of the Alps.”

He added: “New Year is very booked up now in the best known high-altitude resorts, though with snow conditions looking so good this could be a great year to try some of the more traditional, lower altitude ski villages such as La Clusaz in France and Kitzbuhel in Austria.”

TTG Digital

[pictured: Skiing on Klein Matterhorn]