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SKIING UNDERWAY IN THE ALPS

Skiing starts in Tignes in France while Kitzbuhel in Austria became first non-glacier resort in the Alps to open.

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Before we look at the openings in Tignes and Kitzbuhel last weekend we thought we’d show you some current pictures from the Alps where it’s beginning to look wintry after some snowfall.

Skiing continues on the glacier above Zermatt in Switzerland with more slopes opening this week.

Zermatt, Switzerland

Zermatt, Switzerland

The glacier in Engleberg in Switzerland is also open for skiing with the piste bashers hard at work.

Engelberg, Switzerland

Engelberg, Switzerland

Here are Cervinia and Champoluc in the Aosta Valley in Italy.

Cervinia is due to open for the winter this Saturday, 26th October.

Cervinia, Italy

Cervinia, Italy

Champoluc, Italy

Champoluc, Italy

And snow has fallen at altitude elsewhere.

Here is Les Menuires in France in Les3Vallees.

Les Menuires, France

Les Menuires, France

So what about the openings last weekend?

The Grand Motte glacier in the French resort had been scheduled to open on 28th September but a lack of snow forced the resort to postpone.

Three weeks later than planned, Tignes became the first resort in France to open some of its slopes for the season on Saturday 19th October.

The weekend’s activity was disrupted, however, by very high winds which forced the closure of the glacier on Sunday and early on Monday.

The bad weather continued into the week and on Wednesday 23rd October the ski area was again closed as 80kph winds were reported on the glacier.

Tignes has had a difficult summer and autumn so far.

The resort has blamed “global warming and its repercussions” and record temperatures over the summer.

The situation has improved, allowing the glacier to open at the weekend, but it will remain under review.

Tignes glacier, France

Tignes glacier, France

“The recent snowfalls, despite their weakness, make it possible to programme an opening of the Grande Motte glacier on Saturday 19th October,” the resort said on its website last week.

“This partial opening of the domain, under satisfactory safety conditions, remains reserved for skiers of a good level.

“Given the mild climate, the glacier remains under close surveillance and the safety commission will meet regularly to reassess the situation.”

PlanetSKI reader David Morgan, who is in Tignes, has been keeping an eye on the weather situation for us from resort level.

“Heavy rain overnight and this morning has slightly lowered the snow line,” he told us on Tuesday.

Tignes, France

The snow line is creeping down the mountain in Tignes – photo David Morgan

He sent us these photos on Wednesday:

Tignes 16th October 2019 - photo David Morgan

Tignes 16th October 2019 – photo David Morgan

Tignes 16th October 2019 - photo David Morgan

Tignes 16th October 2019 – photo David Morgan

Tignes 16th October 2019 - photo David Morgan

Tignes 16th October 2019 – photo David Morgan

Traditionally another French glacier resort, Les2Alpes in the southern French Alps, has opened for a week at the end of October.

It too has suffered from difficult conditions in the past few years, which have hit its summer and autumn skiing.

Although it will open from 26th October to 3rd November for hiking and biking, the resort has confirmed that there will be no skiing.

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Kitzbühel in Austria maintained its record of being the first non-glacier resort in the Alps to open.

“Kitzbühel will begin the winter season this weekend, Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 October and will be the first non-glacier ski area in the Alps to open for the 2019/20 season,” the resort announced last Tuesday.

“Kitzbühel is able to open this early because of ‘snow farming’. The resort stored snow from last winter over the summer in huge piles under cover to protect it from melting.”

And here’s what it looked like on Resterkogel on opening day, Saturday 19th October.

Kitzbuhel

Kitzbuhel, Austria on opening day

Kitzbuhel

Kitzbuhel, Austria, opening day

And looking down on the town confirms that it’s not winter yet.

Kitzbuhel

Kitzbuhel, Austria, opening day

The resort posted this stunning video ahead of the opening…

Two lifts are open, Panoramabahn and Resterkogel, while one slope has been prepared.

Depending on conditions, the lifts in Kitzbuhel will remain open until further notice, not just at weekends.

In Switzerland, the Saas-Fee glacier is currently open and it’s looking good.

This picture of independent ski instructor Patrick (@paedugasser) enjoying the fresh snow was shared on social media by PlanetSKI partner, Maison Sport.

Saas-Fee, Switzerland

Enjoying fresh autumn snow in Saas-Fee, Switzerland

Other resorts open for skiing now are:

  • Hintertux, Sölden, Stubai, Kitzsteinhorn (Kaprun), Mölltal, Kaunertal and Pitztal in Austria
  • Zermatt and Engelberg in Switzerland
  • Passo Stelvio and Val Senales in Italy
Kitzsteinhorn, Austria

Kitzsteinhorn, Austria, 12th October

It’s not just the Alps.

There’s been some early snow in North America.

We’ll be updating this article as the snow and the openings develop, so do check back.

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