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TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING? - Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
Friday January 19, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

Is there such a thing as too much snow in a ski resort? After the fourth huge storm this month some are wondering. PlanetSKI reports. UPDATED





This time last year we were bemoaning the lack of snow in the Alps.

The low resorts were struggling and many of the higher ones had a meagre covering.

SnowPoor snow cover last winter













They were relying on snow-making to keep the pistes in good shape.

SnowmakingSnowmaking last winter







As for the off-piste, it was patchy to say the least.

It was the end of January 2017 before winter - as we used to know it - made a decent appearance in many places.

The start of the 2017-18 season could hardly be more different.

The trouble is the huge falls have led to resorts closing with massive problems getting in and out of resorts.

One storm stuck on the busiest transfer day of the winter - the Saturday between Christmas and New Year.

And then there is the endless digging out.

"I have been criss-crossing the Alps and have clocked up 17 different resorts so far.  People have welcomed the snow, but now many simply want the runs open so they can go skiing and to see some sunshine," said the PlanetSKI editor, James Cove.

"I've been in Zermatt this week and the first couple of days were superb, but then the latest storm rolled in with lifts closed and not a peak at the Matterhorn. For those having their annual week's ski holiday it has not been ideal."

Zermatt, SwitzerlandZermatt, Switzerland
















Zermatt, SwitzerlandZermatt, Switzerland
















Zermatt, SwitzerlandZermatt, Switzerland
















Some lifts have been running in Verbier this week in the high winds, but would you have liked to be in the gondola to Ruinettes?

"Have never spent quite so much time in a ski resort off the slopes, thanks to pretty much non-stop snow. Still, plenty of nice food and long walks along the snow-covered lake between Le Lac and Val Claret," said the ski writer and PlanetSKI reader, Mary Novakovich from Tignes.

Tignes, FranceTignes, France















But it's not all wild weather across the Alps.

PlanetSKI's roving reporter, James Rampton, has just arrived in St Mortiz.

There is plenty of snow and the wind had dropped.

See below for his report:  

Little more than a month in, some ski areas already have a base that's double what they had at the end of last winter.

Val d'IsereVal d'Isere, 18th January 2018 - photo Val d'Isere Facebook


















On Friday 19th January, La Plagne in France was reporting a base of 3.6 metres at the top and Val d'Isere 3.5 metres.

La Plagne glacier liftBuried lift, La Plagne Bellecote glacier, 14th January - photo La Plagne Facebook
















Engelberg in Switzerland has a whopping 5.3 metres.

In seven days alone some areas have seen storm totals of up to 2m at altitude and it looks as if there's more to come.

But the snowfall has come with fierce winds and sometimes it's fallen as rain - even above 2,000 metres.

The image below was taken by PlanetSKI reader, Neal Warman, in Verbier and shows how the rain has run off the snow ruining the snowpack.

Verbier, SwitzerlandVerbier, Switzerland

Since the image was taken snow has fallen and covered the slopes again.

This video was filmed by BASS in Les2Alpes on 17th January:

On a few occasions whole mega resorts such as Tignes and Val d'Isere have been on complete shutdown.

Not only were the ski lifts out of action but people were told to stay indoors for their own safety.

The avalanche risk has been critical several times - reaching the maximum 5 out of 5.

Avalanche risk 5 out of 5Black flag - maximum avalanche danger




















For those unfortunates whose one and only week-long trip of the winter coincided with one of these storms there is no question that there IS such a thing as too much snow.

Regulars in Tignes tell us that refunds on lift passes are being offered for a total of four days so far this season, although one group of holidaymakers who managed to ski for only two-and-a-half days out of a planned six have been told it will be three months before they're refunded.

In the long term, though, all this snow has got to be good news.

The higher alpine resorts have more than enough snow to last into April.

Imagine what they'll be like when the winter tempests stop, which they surely will.....

Er, won't they?

:  Tignes Officiel

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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