FIRST TURNS OF THE SEASON IN VERBIER
4th November 2019 | Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
Last modified on January 10th, 2020
The Swiss resort opened a few runs at the weekend. Andermatt and Cortina also got the lifts going as ski areas capitalise on all the fresh snow. UPDATED
Verbier had to cancel its plans to open some runs in La Chaux last weekend.
There was simply not enough snow.
What a difference a week makes.
This was how it looked on opening day:
It follows heavy snowfall last week, blanketing the landscape in white.
“After an exceptional summer season, it is a completely different scenery that we discover on the heights of the resort of Verbier since the beginning of the week,” the resort said ahead of its opening.
Verbier is reporting more than 50cm of fresh snow since Tuesday last week on the slopes between the Attelas and Lac des Vaux.
They’ve also had the snow cannons working hard to top up the fresh stuff.
As a result the piste blue and piste rouge at the Lac des Vaux opened on Saturday morning.
Until 2nd December the slopes will open on Saturdays and Sundays only.
An adult day lift pass will cost CHF 44.
Another Swiss resort opened one run on Saturday.
Andermatt says that thanks to the snow and cold temperatures it was able to open up the Sonnenpiste.
The two cable cars to Gemsstock were open on Saturday and Sunday.
Further facilities and slopes, including the valley run, will open when conditions allow.
It’s weekend only skiing there for now.
Gemsstock will open daily from 7th December.
The whole Andermatt ski area is due to begin operating on 20th December.
Meanwhile Cortina in the Dolomites in Italy fired up some lifts on Sunday.
Wide swathes of the Alps and the Pyrenees have been at the centre of the snowstorms that began to hit last weekend, as we report in our rolling blog below.
This week it is due to stay cold with some more snow, especially in the southern Alps.
“Tomorrow the heaviest snow will fall in the Dolomites, with the south-western Alps (e.g. Piedmont) set to join in the action later in the week,” the alpine snow expert Fraser Wilikin of Weather to Ski, said on Monday.
“Although the northern Alps (e.g. Avoriaz, Engelberg, Lech) are unlikely to see any significant snow, it will still be cold, and many resorts have already fired up their snow cannons which will help to secure their base as the main season approaches”
Friday 9th November
See the latest from Val d’Isere in the French Alps:
And Ischgl in Austria…
And Alta Badia in the Dolomites…
And let’s not forget Scotland where it’s been snowing too.
And cold enough to make some snow.
The good news is there is still more snow to come and it is expected to stay cold.
“Over the weekend we will see a few further flurries here and there, heaviest in the far south-west (e.g. Isola 2000, Limone, Prato Nevoso) with most places expected to stay dry if rather cold,” the alpine snow expert Fraser Wilkin of Weather To Ski says.
“It will continue cold into next week too with the further chance of snow, notably from mid-week onwards and probably heaviest in the south-east (e.g. Dolomites).”
Take a look at our photo gallery for more stunning images of the snow across the Alps & Pyrenees
Wednesday 6th November
This video from our friends over at Snoworks in Tignes in France seemed too good not to share straight away.
Snoworks is running a host of pre-season courses up on the Tignes glacier so if this has tempted you check out further details here.
And here they go again:
Tuesday 5th November
Almost all of the Alps has now had some snow in the latest storm.
But our stunning photos today come from France, whose resorts have had the lion’s share of the white stuff.
In the past few days between 30 and 60cm has fallen over a wide area above 2,500 metres.
Some parts have seen as much as a metre.
But it’s clear that there have been significant falls at lower altitude too.
Courchevel in Les3Vallees has shared some photos that make it look more like mid-winter than early November.
The photo below comes from the Panoramic restaurant on the Grande Motte glacier in Tignes.
After a poor start to autumn, we think you’ll agree that it’s looking very good.
As it is on the glacier in neighbouring Val d’Isere…..
And Les Arcs in the Paradiski….
Many skiers, snowboarders and those in the industry are getting excited.
“This is the type of news which gets skiers and boarders tingling with excitement in November,” said Craig Burton from the UK agent, Ski Solutions.
“With a cool and snowy forecast for at least the next week or so across the Alps, it offers up the tantalising possibility of some early resort openings later this month.
“And who wouldn’t relish the opportunity to leave the pre-election party political madness behind and hit the slopes?”
The alpine snow expert, Fraser Wilkin of Weather To Ski says most of the Alps have seen some snow although the north-east, including Salzburgerland in Austria, has seen the least.
And it’s still snowing above around 1,600 to 2,000 metres across parts of Austria and the Dolomites.
He says the weather will remain cool and changeable with the chance of further snow at relatively low altitudes on Thursday/Friday and again on Sunday/Monday.
What does it all mean for the season ahead?
“Well, still not much really as it is simply too early to guarantee that any warm spell won’t undo much of the early good work,” Fraser says.
“That said, we are hopeful that a handful of high-altitude ski areas will now be able to hold on to their bases, especially in French resorts with plenty of skiing above 2400m, eg Tignes/Val d’Isère, Val Thorens and Les 2 Alpes.
“With further top-ups likely, by this time next week these areas (and potentially others) should be more confident of a good start to the season.”
Monday 4th November
The wintry storm hit parts of Europe over the weekend.
The French Alps did particularly well.
So too did parts of Italy and Switzerland where Verbier – which had to cancel its planned opening at the weekend because of a lack of snow – received a welcome fall.
It was not just the Alps but the Pyrenees too.
We reported on the predicted snowfall in our earlier article:
“Accumulations are now becoming significant above 2500m, with 40-50cm expected by tonight on the Grande Motte glacier above Tignes, and perhaps as much as 80cm on the glacier above Les 2 Alpes,” the alpine snow expert Fraser Wilkin of Weather To Ski said on Monday afternoon.
“Tomorrow, the heaviest of the snow will move further east, with the southern Austrian and north-eastern Italian Alps (e.g. Dolomites) most likely to be favoured.
“The rest of the week will then remain unsettled and relatively cool, with further snow at times, mostly in the southern and western Alps.
“The improving snow situation in the Alps is welcome news after a dry and very mild October.
“It still doesn’t mean very much in terms of how the main winter season will pan out, but it does mean that most of the glaciers will be in excellent shape.”
Here is the scene in Arc 1950 as the flakes fell.
In Val d’Isere it started snowing on Sunday and was still falling on Monday morning.
Meribel – Monday 4th
Meribel in Les3Vallees said on Monday morning that the snow was continuing to fall and “it’s just the beginning! It should snow a lot on the summits this week!”
Also in Les3Vallees, Courchevel has a sprinkling of white below 2,000m.
The highest resort in Les3Vallees, Val Thorens (2,300 metres), is due to open in less than three weeks on 23rd November and PlanetSKI will be there.
This is how it looked on Sunday.
Flaine, one of the closest resorts to Geneva, is scheduled to open on 14th December.
The snow has started and the animals are being brought down from their alpine pastures.
In the southern French Alps, Alpe d’Huez is looking good.
The forecaster Meteo-Alpes said on Monday morning that the rain-snow limit was expected to rise to to 2,100/2,300 metres early this afternoon.
Locally and in the most sheltered valleys, it could be as low as 1,800 metres.
The west and central Italian Alps have benefited from the storm.
Val Gardena in the Dolomites reported its first snowfall of the season on Monday morning.