APRIL IS HERE
- James Cove, PlanetSKI Editor
Tuesday March 28, 2017 - Email this article to a friend
The final month of the season is here, but what is it like to ski at this time of year? For some, including us at PlanetSKI, it can be one of the best times of all.
Skiing in April is a risky business - the snow may have melted, resorts may be semi-closed with skiing and snowboarding just a distant memory.
Runs can be shut and those that are open are either sheet ice or deep slush.
Late season snow
Late season snow
Or you can find great snow on a deep base, long sunny days, cheaper prices, a more relaxed atmosphere and you will come back with a healthy suntan.
It is all about choosing the right resort and having a spot of luck with the weather.
Then there's also the fact that the slopes are generally quiet.
We have just received these images of the Stubai glacier from PlanetSKI reader, Holger Gassler.
Stubai, Tirol - Austria
Stubai, Tirol - Austria
Stubai, the Tirol - Austria
See PlanetSKI's report on skiing in April last year.
And the previous year in April I was in Paradiski and other resorts - see here for how much fun you can have:
Palm trees in Paradiski
James and random Spring friends
At the moment parts of the French Alps are having some of their best conditions of the season as we have reported in our latest weather story.
"Amazing conditions this morning in Les2Alpes with about 40cm of champagne powder on the glacier. And even up the top it hasn't been windy so the snow was incredibly light. Beautiful blue skies, easily the best powder day of the season," said Rod Frazer from Les2Alpes last weekend.
He runs the British Alpine Ski School, BASS, in the resort.
Elsewhere it is a different story.
PlanetSKI reporter Petra Shepherd has just returned from Fiss in Switzerland.
"An incredible ski area but apart from a few runs at the top it is unskiable at the moment," she said.
One of our readers in Verbier made this comment on the current snow.
"The snow is just about finished - it's far too hot," he said.
"Worst end of season snow I have seen in 34-years," said another reader from Verbier.
While another of our readers is over in Austria - they missed out completely on the recent heavy snow.
"I am a little tired of hearing how much snow has fallen over the weekend everywhere. This is how much we had.... 19 degrees and balmy, oh yeah'" she said.
The Austrian Alps
In short it is a risky business as the weather can vary enormously.
However the weather may well change for those that have missed out and April, at altitude, can be one of the snowiest times of the winter.
"It is a bit of a myth that there is more and more snow falling as the season gets later. It is probably more to do with the start being poor in recent years so people look to the end. However, that said, there is usually a good base at altitude and there can be some big snowfalls in April," said the alpine weather expert, Fraser Wilkin.
He runs the web site weathertoski.co.uk and provides a weekly snow report for PlanetSKI.
"Some of the resorts in the western Alps probably have more snow this April than in previous years and there is plenty of snow at resorts like Val Thorens, Tignes, Val d'Isere and Cervinia. While this winter Montgenevre has been the most consistent non-glacier resort in the Alps for snow," Fraser added.
Personally I love skiing in April and have had many memorable days in deep powder or spring snow.
The most important decision is where to go and the key thing is to make sure there is high altitude skiing - that means skiing and snowboarding up to 3,000m in my book.
Avoriaz in France may be at 1,800m but its skiing only goes up to 2,275m and has many low-level resorts nearby and the crowds will head over if the snow is poor.
Engelberg is only at 1,050m but it has skiing up to 3,030m.
I know where I would rather head to in April.
In France I'd miss the Portes du Soleil and head to the huge areas of Paradiski and Les3Vallees.
Currently PlanetSKI's senior news reporter, Katie Bamber is in Les3Vallees.
"After raining on Saturday, the weekend picked up dramatically after the overnight snowfall on Sunday- 35cm in Les Menuires. It's warm and sunny here but looking up to Val Thorens the slopes are white and tempting so there should be some good skiing this week. Spring skiing here we come!" said Katie.
Look out for a full report on Spring skiing in Les3Vallees from Katie soon.
Val Thorens is one of the last resorts in Europe to close and it shuts up shop in May 1st - I was were there for its opening back in November and hope to be there as it shuts.
Another good bet in France is Tignes.
It too shuts on May 1st and PlanetSKI's chief reporter, Jane Peel, is in the resort at the moment.
"The landscape looks just like winter. The snow cover is great and there is no doubt that skiing will be good right up until the end of the season," she said earlier this week.
Great snow cover in Tignes
"The temperatures are mild so the off-piste is pretty uninviting at the moment, but it will soon transform to proper soft spring snow," she added.
"I have just been indulging in a little après in the late evening sunshine. It's nearly 7pm, it's still light and I'm in a t-shirt. What more could you want?"
See here for an earlier report from Jane as she looks at late season snow and asks whether Easter ought to be the new Xmas.
Over in Austria I'd head to the glacier resorts in the Tirol - Stubai, Soelden, Hintertux and Pitztal.
St Anton and Saalbach are decent resorts but they simply don't have enough skiing at altitude.
In Switzerland I'd look at Saas-Fee and Zermatt - I have been there many times in April and have seen the resorts close with plenty of snow on the slopes.
For Italy I'd select Cervinia or Val Senales.
And don't rule out Spain.
The resorts remain open until the end of April and I'm just putting the finishing touches to a trip there next week so will let you know what it is like once details are finalised.
It may be Spring in the UK but there is still plenty of good skiing to be had at altitude in the Alps and elsewhere - April Awaits.
There are also some decent deals at the moment with price reductions - check out the latest offers here if you are tempted by skiing into April.
RESORT CLOSING DATES:
Saalbach-Hinterglemm 17th April
Zell am See, 17th April
Stubai, 21st May
Soelden 7th May
Obergurgl 1st May
Pitztal 7th May
Ischgl 1st May
Kuhtai 23rd April
St Anton 23rd April
Lech 23rd April
Avoriaz 16th April,
Chamonix 1st May
Les Arcs 22nd April
La Plagne 22nd April
Tignes 1st May
Val d'Isere 1st May
Courchevel 17th April
Val Thorens 1st May
Les Menuires 21st May
Alpes d'Huez, 23rd April
Les2Alpes 29th April
Montgenevre - April 22nd
Grand Tourmalet (French Pyrenees) - 15th April
Cauterets French Pyrenees) - 24th April
Val Senales 7th May
Livigno 1st May
Kronzplatz 23rd April
Cervinia 1st May
Bormio 25th April
Madonna di Campiglio 18th April
Alagna 18th April
Gressoney 18th April
La Thuile 18th April
Courmayeur 17th April
Sierra Nevada 1st May
Baqueira Beret 9th April
Formigal 13th April
La Mollina 24th April
Masella 1st May
Andermatt 23rd April
Crans-Montana 23rd April
Davos-Klosters 23rd April
Engelberg 28th May
Grimentz 23rd April
Les Diablerets 7th May
Saas-Fee 22nd April
Verbier 30th April
Zermatt - year round.
See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.
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