Category Archives: Ski touring

Uphill all the way

18/4/13 – The snow’s coming down in Val d’Isere

avalanche Val d'Isere

One of the many avalanches in Val d’Isere this week. Note the single point of release at the top

Never have I seen so many enormous avalanches all over the place as this week in Val d’Isere.

On slopes of every aspect, they have been tumbling down in giant proportions, engulfing acres of mountainside with tons of wet snow. Some have begun as slabs; others have a single release point no bigger than a handspan.

Many have widened to more than a hundred yards and travelled half a mile. Many must be at least 100 feet deep.

Sadly, a few days ago not far from the resort, three members of a ski touring group died in an avalanche soon after setting out from a mountain hut one morning (read a report about it here).

Lanches avalanche Tignes

This avalanche crossed the Lanches piste near Tignes Val Claret – after skiing hours

Several runs within the ski area are closed due either to avalanche danger or simply being crammed with avalanche debris – for instance, the blue Santons run and Piste L, from Solaise to Le Laisinant.

Above Val Claret, a giant wet-snow slide, with a single release point, spilled onto the Lanches piste on Monday evening.

Avalanche Val d'Isere

This is where Mattis (open) meets Piste L (closed, and filled with debris)

A couple of days ago a massive wet-snow slide blocked the road somewhere between Val d’Isere and Bourg St Maurice. The road was closed again for ‘Pida’ (blasting) yesterday. There are good bulletins on the Radio Val d’Isere website.

Where we’re staying, at Le Chardon Mountain Lodges, which has a sensational view towards Le Manchet and the Rocher du Charvet, we’ve been watching them from the hot tub each afternoon.

Usually they’re tumbling down the west side of the valley, and two days ago there was a spectacular display, way up the valley, far from lifts or any sane off-pisters.

Avalanche Val d'Isere

Here’s one on a west-facing slope

At 4.30m today, a slab broke off on the east side, showing that the time of day/aspect is not always predictable. It was just up the valley from the open Epaule du Charvet mogul run and ground to a halt by the summer sports pitches.

I was surprised by its speed – wet-snow avalanches certainly don’t always amble down, leaving time for people to get out of the way.

Despite the visible carnage, and the fact that the danger level has been at four since we arrived (and sometimes four/five), we have been on two fantastic day tours, led by a super-experienced French mountain guide in his fifties, Jean-Marc. The crucial thing in such conditions, is timing and route choice.

Cornices near Col d'Iseran

Cornices, facing east, near the Col d’Iseran

Yesterday, we rode the Le Fornet lifts and skied into the Col d’Iseran, where several groups were taking similar routes.

Our highest point was almost within touching distance of some horrific-looking cornices, but our route was safe. We started skinning at 10am, arrived at the top at 11.15, descended past the Refuge du Fond des Fours and arrived at the Manchet lift by midday.

Ski touring at Val d'Isere

Our happy group, this morning. After an hour and a half’s ascent, we skied down on perfect spring snow

Today, we took the lifts to the top of Cugnai, skied over the back on rattly, west-facing frozen slush, ascended past the same Refuge as yesterday, and continued climbing gentle, mostly east-facing slopes – with no other groups in sight – in the blazing sun to reach the top, drenched in sweat, by 11.30am.

Ski touring Val d'Isere

Exiting the valley we had plenty of debris to negotiate

Our descent, on beautiful, west-facing, untracked spring snow, culminated, near the valley floor, in traverses of the giant avalanches we had watched from the hot tub, now set into a mass of frozen boulders of snow. We were at Manchet just after midday.

Rain is forecast tomorrow – though it seems inconceivable it will arrive, looking at the deep blue sky this afternoon.

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.


Leave a comment

Filed under France, Off-piste, Ski touring, Transport

5/4/13 – April skiing: where to go for a last blast

Fabulous spring skiing in Ischgl two years ago. This year, those brown patches are white

Fabulous spring skiing in Ischgl two years ago. This year, those brown patches are white

To round off this snow-blessed winter in the Alps and escape the persistent winter chill of home, if you have a few days and a few pounds to spare I suggest you go skiing.

I have a final trip booked, to Val d’Isere – not a usual haunt of mine as I generally head for Austria, Italy or Switzerland, but it will be a nice change. Last time I stayed there, apart from one short press trip a couple of years ago, was when I was training to be an Inghams rep nearly 20 years ago.

Anyway, if I didn’t have that trip booked, here are the places I’d consider…

1. Engelberg in Switzerland. The top slopes are open till May 26, the town is lively, there’s accommodation for all budgets (including a youth hostel) and it’s only an hour from Zurich airport. There are also some brilliant local guides. Read more about that in my Telegraph article from last season about where to join off-piste groups.

...and when the slush sets in, here's what you can do instead

…and when the slush sets in, here’s what you can do instead

Zermatt, where the views are at their best at the end of the season

Zermatt, where the views are at their best at the end of the season

2. Zermatt in Switzerland. It’s open till May 5, the town is vibrant, busy and full of ski mountaineering folk – and the shops, for once, are offering plenty of end-of-season bargains on gear (not forgetting the pyjamas, nighties and underwear, at Calida, towards the top of the main street). Again, there’s lodging for all budgets. But it’s far from the airport, so go for a week to make it worthwhile. Read more in the insider’s guide (and here is page 2) I compiled at the start of this season.

3. Obergurgl in Austria. It’s open till April 28, and with the village at about 1,900m and most of the skiing between there and 3,000m, there’s very quick access from hotel or b&b direct to the snow. What’s more, there’s fantastic touring, with a great choice of day tours. It’s less than 90 minutes from Innsbruck, and if winter flights have tailed off by the time you want to go, you can fly to Friedrichshafen, Salzburg or Zurich instead. Read my recent piece in the Telegraph, and my off-piste article from last year, to find out more.

4. Ischgl in Austria. The lifts aren’t due to close until May 1. I went late in the season a couple of years ago and despite it not being a good snow year, there was excellent cover thanks to super-efficient snowmaking earlier in the season. There’s good touring nearby in the Silvrettas – hire a guide and stay overnight in the Jamtal Hut (open till May 4), for instance. Keen apres-skiers will know its reputation for lively bars, which is merited – read more in past blogs of mine, such as this one, by entering ‘Ischgl’ in the search box on the right.

Just think of the tan you will get

Just think of the tan you will get

Other late-season favourites of mine are St Anton in Austria, which stays open till April 21; Alagna/Gressoney/Champoluc in Italy (only till April 14, sadly – but lift passes are free till then if you book three nights locally, and it’s amazing value for food and drink); or Cervinia in Italy, which shares Zermatt’s slopes but not its prices (open till May 5). An underrated place probably not on your radar is the Engadine, where Diavolezza/Lagalb stays open well until May 20, and Corvatsch until May 5. The area offers excellent ski touring too – and don’t be put off that it’s in the St Moritz area: there are hostels and modest b&bs as well as swanky hotels.

Of course, you could always plump for Colorado or Utah, where a snowstorm is meant to be heading right now, or for snowy Scotland, where conditions are excellent.

I’ll leave you with the details of four great cut-price deals that landed in my inbox  this week from Inghams, which might be worth a look if you can make a dash for the Alps at the last minute. I’m sure the other tour operators have similar offerings at equally appealing prices.

St Christoph, Austria. £349 for a week’s chalet-board (that means half-board, including wine with dinner and CHOCOLATES afterwards) in a chalet hotel with a pool and doorstep skiing, including return flight from Gatwick to Innsbruck on April 13.

St Anton, Austria. £349, chalet-board, similar to above. There’s no pool but the place, Chalet Gampen, looks pretty good, with whirlpool, sauna and all that stuff. Departing from Gatwick on April 13.

Tignes, France. £369 at Chalet Hotel Le Dome, described as ski-in, ski-out. Similar deal as above, flying to Chambery on April 13 from Gatwick – easily the best airport for Tignes, being about 90 minutes away.

Val Thorens, France – the high-altitude end of the Three Valleys. £369 at Chalet Anais, departing from Gatwick on April 13, flying to Chambery.

Happy holiday-hunting, if you have time!

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Austria, Food and drink, France, Italy, Link to article by Yolanda Carslaw, Off-piste, Ski touring, Switzerland, Transport, United States

17/12/12 – Flow State, the latest Warren Miller film: the verdict

Powder skiing in the Bernese Oberland

Powder skiing in the Bernese Oberland

It wasn’t the outrageous big air, the fearsome steeps, the 1,000ft rag-doll falls or the ravishing powder turns that will stick in my mind from the ski film I saw last week.

During the 90 minutes of Flow State, the latest Warren Miller release (the man himself is in his 80s and someone else makes the films these days), there was footage from Alaska, Hokkaido, Lake Tahoe, Squaw Valley, Kaprun, Utah and California. Even modest little Murren in the Bernese Oberland, where I usually go in January to race the Inferno, got a look-in.

None of these was as mesmerising as the closing five or so minutes, shot in Svalbard, in the far north of Norway, during the 24-hour daylight of the Arctic summer.

The view that made me catch my breath was shot from high up the mast of the Arctica II, a heavy-duty, 62ft sailing boat, showing the bow moving slowly and deliberately through intricate slabs of sea-ice.

Jackie Paaso and Aurelien Ducroz go boat-skiing in Svalbard

Jackie Paaso and Aurelien Ducroz go boat-skiing in Svalbard

This was a more intrepid version of the Norwegian boat-skiing trip I went on in April quite a few degrees farther south.

For Flow State’s pair of ski tourers (Jackie Paaso, the only female pro skier in the film, and Aurelien Ducroz), on the agenda were Polar bears, walruses, first ascents and skiing under the midnight sun as well as climbing on skins from fjord to peak.

Give me snow, any day

Give me snow, any day

The footage was unmissable, and I wanted to join them – though I might not have been brave enough to leap into the sub-zero sea or go water-skiing on a pair of K2s.

Flow State (see the trailer here) is a mixture of brief clips of astonishing daredevil footage, some of it frenetically jumbled together, and around a dozen five-or-so-minute “stories”, when the pace slows and two or three skiers or boarders go on some kind of mission.

Apart from the Norway foray, my favourite missions were:

  • The current and former World Cup racers Tommy Moe, Daron Rahlves and Marco Sullivan fishing, rafting and heliskiing in Alaska.
  • Another trio blasting down the powder-laden avalanche barriers in Niseko, Japan, to the soundtrack of a Japanese drumming band.
  • Vintage footage of the US Army’s 10th Mountain Division learning to ski and survive in wintry Colorado – and fascinating interviews with some of the original members, who became lifelong ski fanatics.
  • Travis Ganong, another World Cup skier, demonstrating perfect, effortless powder technique while heliskiing in Alaska.

It was also great to peer through the stone arches of Murren’s Allmendhubel funicular  and see a local guy, Sascha Schmid, and a Canadian big-mountain skier, Hugo Harrison, sashaying down in powder.

At one point the commentary inferred that they were skiing down the Eiger. Maybe they were, but I wasn’t convinced, and I think I spotted another tiny error in this section: something or someone was said to be “more local than Lederhosen”, but as far as I know, that Alpine suede legwear really belongs in Austria and Germany (Swiss traditional men’s clothing looks more like this).

The soundtrack was excellent, and high-energy, but those of you who know me won’t be surprised that I’d have liked to have seen more Swiss music, which did feature in the film for a few seconds – I’m not sure where they found it in midwinter in Muerren, but it looked like, possibly, the Alpenruh, where the pair seemed to be staying.

I also loved seeing the old-school freestylers, Jonny Moseley and Bob Howard, dressed up in crazy technicolour 80s garments, complete with big hair to go with their big air and ballet moves.

Aurelien Ducroz in Svalbard (picture by Alex Witkowicz/WME)

Aurelien Ducroz in Svalbard (picture by Alex Witkowicz/WME)

In fact most of the skiers in Flow State wore bold, bright clothing, which, I hope, means I am on trend this winter with my own pink trousers and orange jacket (to be revealed in a future post, I expect). Just a shame I’m not quite up to those double back-flips and vertical faces…

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Canada, Gear, Off-piste, Ski touring, Switzerland, Transport, United States

8/12/12 – Arctic ski-sail in pictures

On board Lille Polaris, our home for the week

On board Lille Polaris, our home for the week

The story of a brilliant but weatherbeaten ski-sail adventure I did in Norway in April was in the Sunday Telegraph Discover section last month.

You can read the full piece here online, or in more colourful pdf form (Norway ski sail Sunday Telegraph p1, Norway ski sail Sunday Telegraph p2, Norway ski sail Sunday Telegraph p3).

Our skipper, Sture Ellingsen

Our skipper, Sture Ellingsen

Some nice pictures were used in the article, including some provided by Zuba Ski, the British-run company that organised the trip, and some by our “first mate”, Hayet Mohkenache, a sailor and photographer from Marseille.

But as I have so many more, I am posting some here, alongside a couple of extracts from the piece.

Our guide, Marco Zaninetti

Our guide, Marco Zaninetti

“Strapped to the deck as we left the pretty marina the following morning were five pairs of skis; stashed below were our boots, skins, crampons and other paraphernalia, from sun-cream to goggles.

A steady climb from sea level

A steady climb from sea level

Compared with a standard European mountain refuge our quarters were palatial – a three-berth cabin at the stern, a double at the bow, two flushing loos, hot showers and plenty of drying space.

In the living and dining room were sofa-like benches that doubled as beds for Sture (almost pronounced “steerer”) and his assistant, Hayet Mohkenache, from Marseille.

We usually climbed 800-1,000m

We usually went up to 800-1,000m, taking two to three hours

The fridge in the neat galley was jammed with vacuum-packed, home-cooked suppers supplied by Markens Grode (“growth of the soil”), a café and farm at Kjerringoy where almost everything is home-raised (animals, vegetables and crops) or locally hunted (moose), picked (cloudberries) or fished (salmon, halibut and cod).

...and skied back down to the water

…and skied back down to the water

Cloud-laden skies heightened the mood of adventure as we advanced north, watching the mountains become snowier.

Within half an hour the three braver members of our party had climbed Lille’s mast while I (an avoider of heights) was studying a map of the region with our Italian mountain guide, Marco Zaninetti.”

Sometimes we found a good picnic spot

Sometimes we found a good picnic spot

Later that week…

“We picnicked sitting on tufts of heather alongside mountain streams, and I gradually appreciated why Sture had skied solely in Scandinavia since taking up the sport aged two. “Why would I go to the Alps? he reasoned. “Here we have sea and mountains.”

The tiny Gammen Hut, which we climbed to one day in a storm

The tiny Gammen Hut, which we visited one day in a storm. It was built by villagers at Nordfold

In the event Lille’s sails were rarely hoisted, due either to a lack of wind or far too much wind: one day we motored for four hours against the current in storm-force conditions to reach the district’s only “safe” harbour, Nordfold, nodding nervously as Sture promised, “There’s no danger.”

Inside the Gammen Hut, where we lit the stove

Inside the Gammen we found a stove, lots of hooks, a map, two little benches, a table and a visitors’ book

Being stuck there for two days brought unexpected joys – and was nowhere near as limiting as being confined to an Alpine hut during bad weather. Nordfold has just 300 inhabitants, a bar that opens “when someone wants to have a party” and hills rather than mountains.

More climbing practice

Even the mast was fair game for an ascent

But Sture, to keep us entertained, arranged a visit to a salmon farm – and to a centre for gender equality studies which has its headquarters in the village.

There we heard about the Gammen Hut, an example of a dugnad, built by a community for everyone.

Beautiful Arctic light

Beautiful Arctic light

“Each spring,” the director of the centre told us, “locals run up to check their fitness: half an hour is an OK time.”

On skis, it took us 90 minutes for the 550m ascent; en route we loaded rucksacks with logs from a tiny wood-store specially for visitors to the hut – a dugnad in itself.

One of our prettiest climbs

One of our prettiest climbs

At the Gammen, the size of a small garden shed, we lit the wood-stove, signed the visitors’ book and spent a cosy afternoon playing cards as a storm raged outside.”

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.


Filed under Food and drink, Link to article by Yolanda Carslaw, Off-piste, Ski touring, Transport

27/4 – A day at the opera: Oslo in three hours

We took the "Flytoget" train from the airport to Oslo - 22 mins and probably about £22 return each

Today I’ve been en-route to a ski-touring week in Nordland, north-western Norway.

We’ve arrived at the fantastic sailing boat where we are to spend the next six nights.

We’re a happy group of four Brits, our Italian guide, Marco, our Norwegian skipper, Sture, and our French first mate, Hayret.

At the recommendation of a great Norwegian telemarker I know, we headed to the new opera house (cost: US$707m, opened 2008, main auditorium seats 1,364)

In haste, because we have limited Wifi in the little harbour, Kjerringo, where we are spending the night on the boat before heading off to a fjord tomorrow.

So, this is what we’ve been doing today… please see picture captions.

We spent about an hour walking around on the amazing marble surroundings, with views over the sea and the city

This sculpture, just off the coast from the opera house, is meant to be a reclining woman. It looked more like a sinking ship to us - but we liked it!

Then we went inside...

The cloakroom was my favourite part

We had a fantastic meal at the restaurant. This is Karen, our friendly and informative Swedish waitress

A plate of Norwegian specialities, including a little bit of whale. My favourite bit was the pine sauce, a sort of maple syrup-type thing. NKr210 (£24ish) between three as a starter and well worth it

Leave a comment

Filed under Food and drink, Off-piste, Ski touring, Transport

24/4/12 – Ski-touring by boat from Bodo

We'll fly to Bodo, in the centre of the map, and explore islands on the Vestfjorden

At the end of this week I’m going on the most expensive ski week I’ve ever booked (bear in mind I’m a cheapskate, so this may not be saying much), and also probably the least luxurious (though a university week 18 years ago at Tignes Les Brevieres may come close).

The destination? Arctic Norway, in a winter version of ocean-cruise meets bareboat charter meets Swimtrek – staying on a sailing boat and skinning up mountains from sea level each day, to be met by the boat after each descent.

Since Graham Austick of Piste to Powder opened Lyngen Lodge in northern Norway a few years ago people have started to cotton on to this part of the world as a ski-touring destination. Our group of friends is going with Zuba Ski, and the Ski Club of GB is running a group trip to the Lyngen Alps the same week. But it’s still what I’d call very well off the beaten track.

Our little group (five, plus an Italian guide) is flying to Bodo, in Nordland, rather than Tromso, which is where you’d make for if you were heading to Lyngen. Bodo is an hour and a half’s flight from Oslo, and well within the Arctic Circle – here are the co-ordinates, if you understand that sort of thing: 67° 56′ 8″ North, 14° 58′ 55″ East.

We’ll get on the boat and our week will be spent exploring the islands off Steigen, with views to the Lofoten Islands – pictures here of those from someone else’s blog.

This is Marco Zaninetti, our guide

I’ll be taking pretty much everything I usually take on a hut-to-hut tour – here is the list I made last year.

But as we won’t be carrying all our belongings every day, I’m taking a few extras, such as clothes for the journey and for evenings, proper pyjamas, a clean pair of ski socks for every day, a towel (there’s a shower on the boat), a sleep mask (in case the cabin has a porthole – daylight will be long), binoculars, a couple of books and some CDs. Luxury!

We will be fed morning and evening on the boat and we’ll take packed lunches on our hikes, but I’m taking nuts and raisins in my pockets, too – and some sweets a bit like these.

According to the itinerary, also on the cards is “helping to crew the boat – anchoring, sailing, helming, preparing and cooking food” and “a quick refreshing dip in the Arctic waters”.

Hopefully it won’t turn into a full-on swimming holiday rather than a skiing one – the forecast looks suspiciously spring-like (rain and sun) and I haven’t worked out if there’s really snow all the way down to sea-level yet, or whether we’ll be climbing part of the way in our boots… Wish me luck!

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Food and drink, Gear, Off-piste, Ski touring, Transport

30/3/12 – Where to go for April snow?

Spring-like Ischgl slopes this time last year

Spring ski deals have been landing in my inbox thick and fast this week. Inghams has amazing April savings – Courchevel or St Christoph am Arlberg for £349, including flights and half-board – while Powder White has slashed hundreds of pounds off holidays in St Anton and Meribel and extended the season for several of its properties. I’m sure Crystal, Iglu Ski and other operators and agents have bargains as well.

Most cut-price offers are chalet-based – not my ideal set-up as I prefer b&b or self-catering to take advantage of “local life” – but when such great savings are on offer, no matter.

Do be aware, however, that even in a bumper snow year it’s still worth aiming high (a top of somewhere around 3,000m, I suggest) if you want quality conditions.

Afternoon ski-touring in the woods near Anzere

Even if – like in many places – you still have a metre of snow at village level, if it’s 20 degrees by day then that snow will be foot-deep slush by 2pm unless you’re properly high and – just as crucially – north-ish facing.

Last weekend in south-facing Anzere, which still has mountains of snow in the village (at 1,500m), by 1pm it was over, even on upper slopes (2,400m). I was happy to ski in the morning and go touring through the woods in the afternoon, or sit on the balcony or swim at the great new indoor-outdoor pool (more on this nice, affordable Swiss resort here).

The high slopes at Grimentz last weekend

By contrast an hour away in the Val d’Anniviers, the resorts of Zinal and Grimentz had wintry piste conditions from three of their top stations (each around 2,800-2,900m), and the week-old, tracked-out powder by the side wasn’t bad either. The crucial thing was that the worthwhile top slopes were north or north-east facing (the fourth top, which faces south at 2,800m, was heavy slush by lunchtime).

The other consideration is that places where you typically find lovely “firn” or “corn snow” off-piste at this time of year (caused by freeze-thaw) may not be as good as usual.

A wet-snow slide of the full snowpack that started on a slope of around 30 degrees and crept a surprisingly long way

In Anzere you can often ski almost every square inch of south-facing slope safely during freeze-thaw if you catch it at the right time of day.

However, the cracks in the snowpack that appeared in December – after 2m of snow fell on warm, bare ground – are still there. They haven’t responded well to blasting, but some readily slide off by themselves.

Sunny side up: lunch outdoors is a pleasure of a spring trip. Just don't necessarily expect to do much skiing afterwards

“Hors piste interdit”, read a sign at the top of Le Bate at Anzere, and patrollers were posted at strategic spots near the cracks, on the alert for one to turn into something like the lift-destroying, wet-snow slide of a few weeks ago near Valmorel in France (watch the footage here).

I may not ski this April, but if I was planning a trip for myself – an affordable week or long weekend with the hope of off-piste and enough late-season après-life – these are the places I’d consider:

The Guspis off-piste run at Andermatt in wintry conditions - but this is a good spring bet, too

Engelberg (Switzerland, nearest airport Zurich) – slopes to at least 3,000m, largely north-facing; open till 29 May; great guiding office (see my article about that here).

Monterosa (Italy, Milan or Turin) – Amazingly, until this resort closes on 15 April this Italian “three valleys” is offering a free lift pass to everyone who stays three or more nights (half-board) in Gressoney or Champoluc. The slopes go to about 3,200m and face in all directions, and there are legendary off-piste runs down wild valleys (with cheapish guiding) and superb, great-value food on and off the mountain.

Andermatt (Switzerland, Zurich) – Lower Naetschen will be closed, but the 3,000-ish-metre Gemsstock mountain has an amazing north-facing bowl and various back routes. Read more in my Telegraph report here.

Zermatt (Switzerland, Zurich or Geneva) – several high tops and possible guided descent of Schwarztor. Stay in the Walliserhof for a treat or the Alphubel for a bargain. My sister has found a super-cheap, central, family apartment but it’s such a steal that it has to remain top secret so she can always get in. Sorry!

...and when the slush sets in, here's what you can do instead

Ischgl (Austria, Innsbruck or Zurich) – up to 2,800-ish, but the main thing is that it has a lot of upper slopes and they face in various directions. A year ago we had a lot of fun there with Jim Costelloe, a Ski Club of GB leader who found us fabulous snow despite very scant cover. A friend and I even did an easy self-guided tour up a side-valley – although this year it would probably be less safe.

Tignes (France, Geneva or Chambery I think) – When there was virtually no snow last November, we had great conditions on the glacier. Stay on the upper slopes throughout the area for quality snow and see here for more about its group off-piste days out. Go the first weekend of May to catch the Black Shoes Telemark Festival’s 20th anniversary. The other high French resorts (Deux Alpes, Alpe d’Huez, Val Thorens) should be fine, too.

Obergurgl and/or Soelden (Austria, Innsbruck, Zurich or Salzburg) – They didn’t benefit from the big weather fronts in December and January, which approached from the north and blanketed the Arlberg again and again before arriving in the Oetz valley as wind. But now, conditions look great. Take the bus to the Aquadome at Langenfeld if it’s boiling hot in the afternoon and don’t miss the Nederhut après-ski on Mon, Wed and Fri.

I’m a great fan of St Anton, where I have been late in the season several times (most lately to do the Weisse Rausch, a mad annual race), but I recommend it less as a late-season place than my two other Austrian tips, as the number of its slopes that are really up near its tops, as well as being north-ish facing, seems to be fewer for its size, and rather scattered about, compared with other options. But if you like a busy town with plenty of après-ski, this is still a good bet well into April.

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Austria, Food and drink, Italy, Link to article by Yolanda Carslaw, Link to film, Off-piste, Racing, Ski touring, Switzerland