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Autumn in The Alps
Saturday November 12, 2011 - Email this article to a friend

Europe is not getting off to a good start and there is a distinct lack of snow in many places. Some resorts have postponed their openings and others are getting worried. It is the opposite of North America. PlanetSKI reports direct from The Alps.

"It was amazing we had over half a metre of powder at the beginning of last week and once the weather cleared it was just awesome. Deep fresh snow. There was skiing down to Furgg at 2,400m and now the runs down to the mid-station in Cervinia are opening too," said a resort worker from Zermatt to us on Friday night in The Alps. 

The only problem was we were chatting in the T-bar in Verbier where the opening day had been cancelled for the second weekend running.

The slopes are bare and people are still playing golf on the runs rather than skiing.

There were a lot of frustrated people in the resort kicking their heels and knocking back a few drinks. The snowfall of September is a distant memory and frustration is creeping in.

"This time last year the slopes were open and the resort full so it is disappointing. However the snow will come, it always does, and then Verbier will be very different," said Simon Billenness, the manager of the T-Bar.  The bar is one of our favourite watering holes in Verbier and the hotel above, The Central, is one of our preferred places to stay.  Well priced, comfortable and, er, central.

This weekend though the beds are empty.

In need of snowIn need of snow













Ready to goReady to go













But in Zermatt it is good. 

Check out the photo below sent by one of our partners, European Snowsport.

More like winterMore like winter













Neighbouring Cervinia had 80cm on fresh snow and other resorts in the Aosta Valley had some snowfall too, but only at altitude.  Otherwise it was heavy rain and there was flooding down in the valley.

Saas-Fee also has good conditions and claims a depth of 1.8m.

Some resorts in northern Italy and the southern Frech Alps, like Serre Chevalier and Les Deux Alpes, have had some good snow on the higher slopes.

However that is about it.  There has been some dustings of snow elsewhere in the Alps with Tignes in France having a little bit of fresh snow last week.

The Austrian glacier resorts are open but according to a PlanetSKI reader who sent us an email they need some more snow.

For a video report from Verbier, from the PlanetSKI content editor, see below.

It is a similar picture over in Eastern Switzerland according to this video report below from SwissInfo.

Davos-Klosters is also in need of snow and has delayed its opening.

So, what about elsewhere in Europe? The Spanish resory of Formigal had 60cm of snow last week and it was cold enough to turn on the cannons for a while.

We have been sent this photo of conditions.

The resort plans to open on November 27th.











The warm autumnal weather is set to continue with a high pressure system over the Alps until the middle of the week.  Then some snow will come as a low pressure system moves in but it will only be snow at altitude.

In most places it will be rain as the temperature remains stubbornly high.

This is the major problem as it means snow cannot be made and when the snow does come it will fall on warm ground.  What Europe needs more than anything is a drop in the temperature and a prolonged cold snap. 

None is forecast though.

So, do we need to worry?


Snow in November is always welcome and it gets people looking forward to the season and booking a holiday, but it has little impact on whether it will be a snowy winter. 

Last year there was good snow in November and December, as we reported at the time, but for some resorts, especially in France and western Switzerland, that was about it.

The good  snowfall in the early season did not lead to a good winter and the opposite could just as easily happen.

Here at PlanetSKI we are not too worried though many businesses are getting increasingly concerned. Bookings are static but there are many reasons for this - not least the economy and people's increasing trend to book more last minute. 

The worries though will only increase as time ticks on.

Logic also does not come into it for many.  "I'm going back to Austria this winter as I had such good snow there last year," was how one reader has put it to us. "The snow was so bad in Alpes d'Huez at the end of last season that I am going to give skiing a miss for this season," another reader said. 

Neither really stands up to a reasoned argument.

The place to be at the moment is North America where winter has got off to a good start, as we have reported in this PlanetSKI story looking at early season across The Atlantic.

The photo below comes from Breckenridge in Colorado that opened last week. 

More like winterMore like winter












Some of that snow would be very welcome in The Alps

For the spirit of the mountains

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