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Wednesday November 8, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

The avalanche of resorts opening & new lifts turning continues. Check out our rolling resort blog as winter starts. UPDATED



The rest of Les3Vallees opens today!

Courchevel and Meribel are enjoying as we speak the epic snow that has fallen in the Alps on the first day of their season.

Take a look:

Courchevel opening dayCourchevel opening day















Snopening daySnopening day, Courchevel













































Extra-high-up Val Thorens opened some weeks ago - PlanetSKI was there for the opening:


Take a look at the snow in this Tirolean jewel of a resort you might not have heard of that's opening on Friday, 8th December:

Ski Juwel Alpbachtal WildschönauSki Juwel Alpbachtal Wildschönau

Blick Richtung SchatzbergBlick Richtung Schatzberg

Sagtaler Und GaltenbergSagtaler Und Galtenberg

And if you haven't heard of it, here's a little more on this Austrian gem:

PlanetSKI is elsewhere in the Tirol right now - over in Ischgl.

Read updates from the editor, James Cove:


A whole batch of resorts are set to open this coming weekend.

Our friends over at Ski Weekender has just sent us details of some of the resorts that it offers holidays to in France .

Le Grand Bornand

As is traditional, Le Grand Bornand will be opening a good part of the resort this weekend (9th December) for the annual ski test - now officially called Rock on Snowboard Tour.

This will feature lifts and pistes in the Gettiers, Floria and Maroly sector - so much of the Chinaillon part of the resort - with over 30 ski brands present to showcase their new season skis and boards.

And - they have just announced that the resort will stay open continuously after that.

The resorts has been able to provide good ski conditions thanks to its extensive artificial snow network which has topped up the natural snow cover with some 140,000 m3 of artificial snow created during the end of November (and it's still going!)

La Clusaz

Opened the La Balme sector last weekend and was very popular and busy with the locals of Annecy and beyond getting their first ski fix.

Again opening this weekend, and rumour that they may stay open continously after that... still tbc.

St Gervais

Opening of the domain this weekend (9th and 10th Dec). Exact details of runs tbc.

Then from next weekend 16th Dec - a permanent opening will follow.

Les Contamines

Opening of the domain this weekend (9th and 10th Dec). Exact details of runs tbc. 


The resorts of Andorra have opened this weekend.

"So the moment is finally here! Both Grandvalira and Vallnord have opened over the last two days and we couldn't really have asked for a better start," said Ian Coles from Andorra Resorts.

"After early snow at the start of November, more arrived on Thursday night which was very welcome.  Vallnord opened on the 1st, and although there was limited runs open, the ones that were were in fantastic condition.

"It was quite incredible to be skiing through powder on opening day with only about 10 other people on the mountain!  Grandvalira followed the day after and it was a similar story there.  It's been extremely cold and temperatures are going to continue to be low, until more snow next weekend," Ian added.

El Tarter, Grandvalira, AndorraEl Tarter, Grandvalira, Andorra

Arinsal, Vallnord, AndorraArinsal, Vallnord, Andorra


Check out the travel company, Andorra Resorts.


Val d'Isere is already open and next weekend sees the start of the Critérium de la Première Neige, the series of World Cup races traditionally hosted by the French resort each year in early December.

It's looking good on the infamous Face run where PlanetSKI will be to watch GB's Dave Ryding will go in the slalom on Sunday 10th December.

An International Ski Federation inspection today gave the go ahead for both the men's slalom and the giant slalom, which will be held on Saturday 9th.

It was -13 Celsius there this morning!

FIS inspector Jean Louis GalinierFIS inspector Jean Louis Galinier on La Face













More ski ares are opening in the French Pyrenees.

There has been plenty of snow in the French Pyrenees with it falling down to village level in St Lary, Cauterets and Ax les Thermes.

As of today Cauterets  has 70% of its slopes open,  Peyragudes has 15 slopes open)and St Lary opens this weekend.

Les Angles is open in the Pyrenees Orientale.

Ax 3 Domaines in the Ariege - Bonascre area is open on Saturday with possibly more slopes opening on Sunday.

Grand Tourmalet will open from 7th December.

Ax les Thermes, French PyreneesAx les Thermes, French Pyrenees

Cauterets, French PyreneesCauterets, French Pyrenees

St Lary, French PyreneesSt Lary, French Pyrenees

And deeper into the Pyrenees preparations are underway in the Grandvalira ski area of Andorra that opens this weekend.

Grandvalira, AndorraGrandvalira, Andorra

Grandvalira, AndorraGrandvalira, Andorra

Grandvalira, AndorraGrandvalira, Andorra

And if you want to find out more about Andorra then check out the travel company, Andorra Resorts.


Alpe d'Huez opens its slopes this  Saturday 2nd December for 141 days of skiing until the lifts close on 21st of April 2018.

16 runs will be open with a vertical descent of 1,200m.

There is 20cm of fresh snow at 1,860 meters and  50cm of fresh snow at 3,060 meters.

PlanetSKI will be in the resort in the week before Xmas and will be posting a full length feature on one of the best ski areas in the southern French Alps.

Piste preparations in Alpe d'HuezPiste preparations in Alpe d'Huez


The first of the five Scottish ski areas to open is Glencoe, which ran its first lifts today after cold temperatures and snow at the weekend

 GlencoeGlencoe 28th November
















The latest resort officially to open in the Alps is Val Thorens in Les3Vallees.

However conditions are currently not perhaps ideal - snow, wind, limited visibility and cold temperatures.

PlanetSKI's, Katie Bamber, is in the resort and will be updating her article shortly.

Val Thorens, FranceVal Thorens, France


More slopes are opening in Verbier this weekend.

This time it's the turn of Gentianes.


And the latest ski area that opens is Lowther Hills.


It is a small area in Scotland that is for members only and it has a single tow lift.

"The first spells of winter have reached Scotland's Highest Villages, so there we go: we'll start the 2017/18 ski season tonight at the nursery slope in Leadhills," said a statement today from the Club.

"We should be up and running by 5pm and will keep a ski tow running until 7pm approximately for members only," it added.

Here is what it looks like: 

Lowther HillsLowther Hills















The Club was formed in 2014 and we reported as it prepared to open.  

Its lift was bought from the Harwood Ski Club in the Pennines.

Lowther HillsLowther Hills













So, what about out in the Alps?

From this weekend, 500km of pistes will be open in the Tirol in Austris in the following resorts:

  • Pitztaler Glacier
  • Sölden Glacier and Giggijoch
  • Obergurgl-Hochgurgl
  • Stubaier Glacier
  • Kaunertaler Glacier
  • Hintertuxer Glacier
  • Ischgl
  • Hochzillertal-Hochfügen (before 2nd December only on weekends)

  And here is what a few of them look like:

Obergurgl, Tirol, AustriaObergurgl, Tirol, Austria
















Soelden, Tirol, AustriaSoelden, Tirol, Austria














Hintertux, Tirol, AustriaHintertux, Tirol, Austria














Pitztal, Tirol, AustriaPitztal, Tirol, Austria















Ischgl in the Austrian Tirol opened for the winter season today.

159kms of pistes were open after all the recent snow - that's two-thirds of the slopes of the Ischgl-Samnaun Silvretta Ski Arena.

Ischgl web camera, 23rd NovemberIschgl web camera, 23rd November















Ischgl, AustriaIschgl, Austria
















Ischgl, AustriaIschgl, Austria
















The new star-studded (literally!) €12m Palinkopf chairlift made its debut, one of the 36 skilifts operational on day one, out of a total of 45 lifts.

The seats are each emblazoned with images of stars who have performed in Ischgl's Top Of The Mountain concerts - including Robbie Williams, Kylie Minogue and Muse.

See below for an earlier PlanetSKI story on the lift.

Ischgl, AustriaIschgl, Austria















We've just heard that resorts are opening in the Pyrenees.

Les Angles in the French Pyrenees is part-opening on Friday

It will have 7 pistes open with 10km of skiing.

There has been some natural snow and it has been cold enough to turn on the cannons.

Los Angles, French PyreneesLes Angles, French Pyrenees
















Los Angles, French PyreneesLes Angles, French Pyrenees
















Les Angles, French PyreneesLes Angles, French Pyrenees
















In the Spanish Pyrenees, Baqueira Beret is the place to ski.

The resort opened on 18th November.

This early opening saw 50cm snow depth, 30km of pistes to ski and 11 lifts open.

Baqueira Beret, 19th NovemberBaqueira Beret, 19th November
















And in Andorra, the country's popular ski resort Arinsal is projected to open on 1st December.

Here's the resort prepping on 7th November - not bad...

7th November, Pal-Arinsal7th November, Pal-Arinsal



















Here's a shot from the ski slopes of Verbier in Switzerland.

And in Crans Montana, Switzerland on Saturday morning, the temperature was  -2°C at the Violettes ski area.

Crans Montana on Saturday mornig  -2°C ViolettesCrans Montana on Saturday mornig -2°C Violettes















Austrian Tirol:

The slopes of Serfaus - Fiss - Ladis look pretty amazing on Saturday.

The slopes of Serfaus - Fiss-Ladis  on Saturday The slopes of Serfaus - Fiss-Ladis on Saturday












The slopes of Serfaus, Tirol- Fiss-Ladis on Saturday The slopes of Serfaus, Tirol - Fiss-Ladis on Saturday














And a little powder puff of winter from Val Thorens in France, below as its season starts.


A fine snowy start in Cortina.


The big news in France is the opening of Val Thorens this weekend.

It is the highest resort in the Alps and should have 70% of its ski area open.

Val Thorens, FranceVal Thorens, France















Val Thorens, FranceVal Thorens, France














Val Thorens, France70% is open in Val Thorens, France















In Switzerland this weekend Verbier opens more terrain with skiing in the La Chaux bowl  and the runs down to it from Attelas.

The Lac des Vaux area opened last weekend and there has been some fresh snow since and plenty of snow making.

On Saturday 18th November Crans-Montana opens.

The Violettes Express cable car is open with skiing down to Marolires.

Switzerland has around a dozen resorts open including Zermatt, Saas-Fee, Engelberg, Laax, Glacier 3000 and Diavolezza.

There continues to be some great conditions in Andermatt too.

Andermatt, SwitzerlandAndermatt, Switzerland















Some of the best current conditions in the Alps are in Austria.

The glacier resorts of Soelden, Stubai, Pitztal and Hintertux are superb for the time of year.

The non-glacier resort of Obergurgl is already open and the non-glacier resort of Ischgl joins it next Thursday as it fires up its lifts for the start of its long season that goes through to next May.

Across the Alps more resorts are opening and huge amounts of preparations are underway for the winter ahead.

Swiss AlpsWinter is almost here
















Do check back across the weekend as we will be updating this story here on PlanetSKI.

The ski season of 2017/18 is upon us!

And if you want to find out more detail on the snow conditions across Europe and North America then see our weekly snow report that was posted on Thursday 16th November.


Courchevel has opened for the day with free skiing, because it's a shame not to share all the snow.

And what a day it is to be on the slopes!

Courchevel 15th NovemberCourchevel 15th November - photo Courchevel Officiel














Courchevel 15th NovemberCourchevel 15th November - photo Courchevel Officiel










Courchevel 15th NovemberCourchevel 15th November - photo Courchevel Officiel

The Verdons, Biollay and Bellecote runs are open with free ski school lessons for children this lunchtime.

The lifts across Les3Vallees don't open until early December but people have been skinning up in Meribel to enjoy the fresh powder.

We have just been sent these pictures from Meribel:

Meribel, FranceMeribel, France














Meribel, FranceMeribel, France













Meribel, FranceMeribel, France














Meribel, FranceMeribel, France














And here is what it looks like in the village of Meribel.

Meribel, FranceMeribel, France




















"One of our managers took this photo from the centre of Méribel this morning, the best I have seen in mid-November for several years!!" said Colin Mathews from the Meribel chalet specialist, Meriski on Wednesday.

Here at PlanetSKI we will have a report of the early opening of Val Thorens this weekend.

And the following weekend our senior news reporter, Kaite Bamber, will be in town for the official start to the season.



Courchevel has announced that conditions are so good it's a shame not to 'share' the snow with snow-lovers.

The resort officially opens on 9th December.

In the meantime, they invite anyone who is around to join them for a free-ski on Wednesday

" Conditions are too perfect, we cannot remain closed! If you're in the area, you are welcome to join us. FREE opening on Wednesday, November 15 of Verdons gondola and Biollay lift... from 9am to 4pm!"  And there's free parking too.

Courchevel to open on Wednesday Courchevel to open on Wednesday













Val Thorens, Europe's highest ski resort, will open next weekend on 18th November and the lift company has confirmed that 70% of the lifts will be running.

That's impressive.

Val Thorens, FranceVal Thorens, France

But one of our reporters, Francesca Smith, can't wait.

She lives in the neighbouring resort of Les Menuires and runs the chalet company, Powder N Shine. 

She has put her skins on to reach the snow.

Francesca Pangli, Val ThorensFrancesca Smith, Val Thorens

Francesca Pangli, Val ThorensFrancesca Smith, Val Thorens

Francesca Pangli, Val ThorensFrancesca Smith, Val Thorens

"Toured up to Peclet from Val Thorens and came down Christine. The snow was excellent. Nice and fluffy with plenty of depth. We made it down just in time for more snow," said Francesca. 

The Swiss resort of Verbier opened the Lac des Vaux area last Friday 10th November after the latest storm left 40cm of snow and PlanetSKI was out on the slopes.

There is more snow in the forecast too but it was the storm of last weekend that has allowed the early opening.

Verbier 10th November 2017Verbier, 10th November - photo Rachael Bishop

And here is what it looked like as first tracks went down:

Verbier 10th November 2017Verbier, 10th November - photo Rachael Bishop

PlanetSKI reporter Catie Friend was among the first out.

"There were many out and a full range of skiers and snowboarders," said Catie.

"Freeriders (I spotted Geraldine Fasnacht and Phil Meier), park rats (wearing long sweatshirts and riding switch down the red run), grannies in fluorescent head bands, wealthy gentlemen in immaculate Peak Performance, telemarkers, snowboarders and everything in between. 

"The only thing missing were kids - hurrah, some might say - but this will change from tomorrow as the lifts are open all weekend.

"The snow cannons are on at the top (it is pretty cold up there) and the piste was in quite good natural shape.   

"There was a jolly cacophony of "salut!" and "hi!" amid the slightly bashful faces of those of us keen enough to get up for the first day.  

"Televerbier was serving free tea, coffee and croissants and even the lift attendants were smiling, not always the case in Verbier!"  said Catie.

Catie Friend, VerbierCatie Friend, Verbier

Verbier 10th November 2017Verbier, 10th November - photo Rachael Bishop

Verbier, SwitzerlandVerbier, Switzerland

Verbier, SwitzerlandVerbier, Switzerland

The resort is open for weekends only for November until its full opening planned for December 2nd. 

"Our teams are working hard to open other trails in the wake of the next snowfall," said a statement from the resort.  

Verbier joins a number of other resorts in Switzerland that are already open: Zermatt, Saas-Fee, Engelberg, Diavolezza/Engadin, Davos and Laax.  

Other resorts across the Alps are looking to see if it is possible to open a few runs early and here at PlanetSKI we'll let you know as soon as we hear.  

has some of the best conditions in the Alps and many open resorts.  

The glacier resorts of, Stubai and Hintertux had some of the best of the recent snow.  

"I am just skiing at Stubai glacier. Stunning powder conditions with a snow base of 170 cm. More snow to come over the weekend," said PlanetSKI reader, Holger Gasler, from Tirol Tourism.

Stubai, Tirol, AustriaStubai, Tirol, Austria


Stubai, Tirol, AustriaStubai, Tirol, Austria

And Hintertux looks pretty good too:

Hintertux, AustriaHintertux, Austria


Other glacier resorts open in Austria include Pitztal, Soelden, Kitzsteinhorn, Molltall.    

The non-glacier resorts of Obergurgl and Ischgl saw snow and Obergurgl will be opening on 16th November.

They are clearing away the snow already - check out the massive volume of powder, in the video below, that is being moved.


In France it is just Tignes that is open but some resorts are considering opening a lift or two early. 

In Italy the resorts of Cervinia and Val Senales are offering sking while in Scandinavia there is Beitostolen in Norway plus Levi and Ruka in Finland. 

Over in North America resorts seem to be opening on a daily basis - mostly in Canada.  

See below for our full report from across the Pond.
Here at PlanetSKI we will be updating this report later so do check back for any news of early openings.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: No1 for ski news 

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