Several weeks of mostly sunny skies and a forecast for more of the same across the Alps is leading to uneasiness in European resorts and among the people who are planning to visit them in the Christmas holidays.
The lovely autumnal views I admired in late October, when I visited the Valais for a few days, look largely similar now, I’m told, if a little more criss-crossed by bright ribbons of artificial snow.
Commentators in the papers are advising people to aim high early in the season. A friend of mine who works in Zermatt – where, I’ve heard, conditions on the glacier have been superb lately – sounds pretty worried on behalf of lower-altitude resorts. And a post on Snowheads, the forum for skeenites, entitled, ‘Is it too early for the OMG no snow thread?’ has had, as I write, 258 replies and 18,858 views since 4 November (http://tinyurl.com/88d54tt).
However, most years it is sensible to stick to high-altitude resorts early on, and I don’t think we should assume this European winter will be a dud (no concern, right now, in North America, where resorts such as Snowmass, Colorado, are opening early – http://tinyurl.com/7goveco).
Look up snow records from past years and you’ll find many a November when cover was close to zero and a ‘normal’ season followed. I use the Ski Club of GB’s historic snow data, all the way back to 1993 – only visible to members, but if you like looking at statistics and are interested in snow, it’s almost worth the subscription (£58) for that alone. Alternatively, igluski.com has data you can see for free, back to 2007.
It doesn’t take many days of snow to give reasonable cover. Another few storms like this one – http://tinyurl.com/7chpk3c – should do the trick.
Failing that, wait for my sister and her family to drive to the Alps in mid-December. Snow never fails to start falling as soon as they load up their rather fragile Toyota saloon for the journey to Switzerland. They always need their chains as well as snow tyres, and sometimes they need towing, too.
Unfortunately, this trick may not work in time for my first trip – which is in exactly six days. Perhaps this wasn’t the year to commit to a week in Tignes in late November, but who knows, maybe a blizzard will blow in to soften up the snow on the glacier and all that artificial they have surely been churning out. If it doesn’t, too bad, and as you can see here, you can have lots of fun on just a little of the white stuff: http://tinyurl.com/7jnsf8s
DO you enjoy this BLOG? Then SIGN UP to RECEIVE AN EMAIL each time I post a NEW ONE by clicking on ‘SIGN ME UP’ on the top right of THIS PAGE.