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Thursday April 5, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

It's a time of unsettled weather across the Alps. The huge amounts of snow and warmer temperatures have led to some massive controlled avalanches. Check out the latest. UPDATED



Our editor is in Zermatt for the Unplugged festival and took a moment out of his schedule to send us a snow report.

It's a two-in-one update on the weather and what's ahead in the Unplugged festival.

Here's what it is like in the Swiss mountains today.

It might be April but it feels like the middle of winter.



A series of controlled avalanches have been set off in Val d'Isere today.

The following videos and photographs have captured the huge scene from different angles.

This avalanche was set off over the road between Tignes Le Lac and Boisses, on the Combe Du Glatier route.

This took place on Tuesday afternoon, and was posted on Faceboob by Yves Queffeulou.

Further up the mountain this is the start of the movement of snow where the avalanche was triggered.

The volume of snow shifted was collosal.

And when it stopped this is the final image of the huge wall of compacted snow it brought down.

A sobering image of the avalanche taken at Tunnel du Glatier, between Tignes Le Lac and Tignes Les Boisses.

Tunnel du Glatier, between Tignes Le Lac and Tignes Les Boisses.Tunnel du Glatier, between Tignes Le Lac and Tignes Les Boisses.













We start today in the Pyrenees.

A mountain range overlooked by some - not by us at PlanetSKI as we love the place.

Whether on the French or Spanish side, or in the middle in Andorra.

"So as the lifts closed down on the final day of the winter 2017/18 the snow was still pumping down, ending what has been a bumper year for snow in Andorra. So good that Vallnord Ordino-Arcalis has decided to extend it's opening until the end of April (Limited hours of 09:00 - 15:00)," said Ian Coles of Andorra Resorts.

"It's been a great season, with consistent coverage and depths over the whole season.  If you haven't been to Andorra this year then you have missed out and you should definitely put it on your radar for the winter 2018/19 season."

Grandvalira, Pas de la Case, AndorraGrandvalira, Pas de la Casa, Andorra
















Grandvalira, Soldeu, AndorraGrandvalira, Soldeu, Andorra















Vallnord, Arcalis, AndorraVallnord, Arcalis, Andorra

Vallnord, Arinsal, AndorraVallnord, Arinsal, Andorra

Meanwhile back in the Alps one of our regular readers, Michael Pettifer from MPI Brokers, is in Chamonix in France.

"Been here for three days, weather mainly sunny and quite warm. Piste skiing hard and icy in the morning turning to slush on the lower slopes," said Michael.

"Off piste is good, although skied out, in much of the Grand Montets area, heavy and in places very heavy elsewhere.
"Avalanche risk remains high at 4. And on Sunday at Brevent many lifts were closed and on several occasions we were actually stopped by pisteurs while they set of mini avalanches.
"All in all despite the warm weather there is plenty of good skiing to be had and surprisingly uncrowded."

Chamonix, FranceChamonix, France

Chamonix, FranceChamonix, France

Chamonix, FranceChamonix, France


"Sun tans all round here in Les2Alpes - it's been a day of clear skies and great skiing," said our reporter, Ross Young, who is in the French resort.

"The upper slopes remained in nigh-on perfect condition, while slightly lower down it was a matter of waiting for hardened snow to soften in the sun."

"The off-piste areas still had plenty to offer too, although the lower you skied the more variable conditions became."

"The runs into resort, on the other hand, were slushy pretty much all day. But barely anybody was using them except to get home after a great day on the slopes."

Les2Alpes, FranceLes2Alpes, France

Les2Alpes, FranceLes2Alpes, France

Les2Alpes, FranceLes2Alpes, France

Les2Alpes, FranceLes2Alpes, France


Vanessa Fisher is in La Clusaz in the Annecy Mountains area of the French Alps.

"In the last 24 hours we have had sunshine, gale force winds, torrential rain, huge thunder and lightning storm, fog, more rain and heavy snow falling at altitude at La Balme this morning," said Vanessa on Thursday.

"It certainly makes for interesting times on the mountain with pockets of powder to find, wet sticky snow lower down & tricky visibility up high."

La Clusaz, FranceLa Clusaz, France
















Our editor, James Cove, recently skied in La Clusaz as part of a weekend ski trip last month with Skiweekender.

PlanetSKI reporter, Ross Young, is currently further south in the French Alps in Les2Alpes.

"Conditions up there in a word? Windy. In two words? Very windy," he said on Wednesday.

Afternoon conditions in Les2AlpesAfternoon conditions in Les2Alpes
















And on Thursday?

"Today was about as good as it gets in the mountains, especially considering the time of year," said Ross.

"We woke to fresh snow and barely a breath of wind: it was definitely a day to hit the slopes early.

"Jandri Express, the main cable car to the upper slopes, opened 20 minutes later than usual as the pisteur teams on the upper slopes dealt with the fresh dump of snow, but the wait was well worth it.

Queuing up at the Jandri express liftQueuing up at the Jandri express lift
















"At 2,500m we were greeted by around 10cm of freshly-fallen snow. Powder city - and with Les2Alpes' ski area extending a further 1,000 vertical metres and the entire lift system open, there was plenty of the soft stuff to go round.

"The scenery was stunning, the pistes perfect, the easily accessible off-piste a delight.

"Everyone on the mountain was buzzing.... and conditions remained ideal - and sunny - throughout the day.

"Sure, the lower slopes were a slushfest by the time we made our way home, but after a day like today, who cares?"

Les2Alpes, FranceLes2Alpes, France
















Les2Alpes, FranceLes2Alpes, France

And our chief reporter, Jane Peel, is in Laax in Switzerland.

"We have had a mix of weather this week with sun, clouds and wind and though it has been very spring-like at resort level there has been some decent snow higher up," said Jane.

Laax, SwitzerlandLaax, Switzerland, Thursday

Jane is reporting for us on the BRITS in Laax and she even won a medal for PlanetSKI in the skier cross.

Laax, MondayLaax, Switzerland, earlier this week
















Our full and detailed snow report below, that was filed on Thursday 5th April comes from Fraser Wilkin at

Snow cover in the Alps remains very impressive for early April, with upper base depths still in excess of 5m in a number of locations, including Flaine.

Snow quality, however, is highly variable, as you would expect in spring.

Many places did enjoy some fresh snow on Thursday, but with temperatures expected to rocket on Friday, only the highest north-facing slopes (above 2800-3000m) will hold on to any “cold powder” by the weekend.

It will then turn more unsettled again later on Sunday and early next week, but any significant snow will be localised with high resorts close to the French-Italian border (e.g. Val d’Isère, Sestriere) and the south-western Swiss-Italian border (e.g. Zermatt) most likely to benefit.

Across the pond, the resorts of western Canada continue to offer better snow conditions than those in the western US…



There was some new snow today across the higher Austrian resorts but lower down it fell as rain, meaning that the pistes are very wet in the likes of Saalbach (50/145cm) despite good snow coverage.

For much better snow quality you need to head to the highest ski areas, such as Obergurgl (95/210cm) and Hintertux (165/375cm), where the snow remains “wintry” (at least up top).

The weekend will be mostly warm and sunny with relatively fine weather continuing into the first part of next week. 

Spring skiing conditions in Leogang – 5 April 2018 – Photo: saalfelden-leogang.comSpring skiing conditions in Leogang – 5 April 2018 – Photo:















There was some fresh snow to enjoy across many French ski resorts today, but temperatures are on the rise again, meaning that altitude will be the key to the best snow conditions over the next few days.

Val Thorens (269/370cm) and Tignes (226/355cm) will be as good as any.

Lower down, resorts such as Les Gets (60/270cm) will still be able to offer some decent piste skiing, but it will just turn slushier earlier in the day.

After a warm and mostly fine start to the weekend, it will turn more unsettled on Sunday and early next week with the chance of some significant snow in resorts close to the Italian border, from Val d’Isère southwards.

Good spring-skiing in Flaine – 4 April 2018 – Photo: spring-skiing in Flaine – 4 April 2018 – Photo:


















There is still excellent cover across most Italian resorts, however, snow quality is quite inconsistent and will become even more variable over the next couple of days (especially lower down) thanks to rising temperatures.

High altitude Cervinia (60/400cm) is among the best bets right now, with more snow forecast later in the weekend and early next week.

Another good bet is Livigno (96/181cm).

However, even these resorts will not be immune to some slush on their lower slopes later in the day.

Great late season snow conditions in Cervinia – 5 April 2018 – Photo: cervinia.itGreat late season snow conditions in Cervinia – 5 April 2018 – Photo:

















There is still excellent snow cover across most Swiss resorts, though with temperatures on the rise it is the higher ones such as Zermatt (20/400cm) and Saas-Fee (130/300cm) that will offer the best conditions over the coming days.

These two resorts (close to the Italian border) may even see some significant new snow early next week.

Lower down, there will still be some good piste skiing on offer in resorts such as Champéry (100/350cm) and Wengen (15/190cm), but it will just turn slushier here earlier in the day. 

Impressive April snow conditions in St Luc – 5 April 2018 – Photo: valdanniviers.chImpressive April snow conditions in St Luc – 5 April 2018 – Photo:















Rest of Europe

Snow cover remains excellent for early April in the Pyrenees, with typically spring-like snow conditions in Andorra’s Soldeu (70/180cm) and Spain’s Baqueira Beret (220/300cm).

All five Scottish ski areas have good cover and, thanks to fresh snow, are offering some great early April skiing.

The most impressive base depths are to be found in Glencoe (190/310cm).

There is also plenty of good skiing still on offer in Norway, where most resorts have had an excellent season.

Right now, the western resort of Voss has base depths of 90/275cm. 

Above average snow cover still in the Pyrenees. This is Cauterets – 5 April 2018 – Photo: cauterets.comAbove average snow cover still in the Pyrenees. This is Cauterets – 5 April 2018 – Photo:













North America



In general, snow conditions in the resorts of western Canada are superior to the resorts of the western US.

Whistler (299cm upper base) is expecting more snow over the next few days though it may fall as rain at village level.

Further inland, there is also some excellent skiing on offer in the Banff/Lake Louise area (182/244cm), with flurries also forecast here over the next few days. 

Good late season snow conditions in Whistler – 5 April 2018 – Photo: whistlerblackcomb.comGood late season snow conditions in Whistler – 5 April 2018 – Photo:

















Most western US resorts haven’t seen a huge amount of snow in the last week but, on-piste at least, there is still some enjoyable skiing to be had.

Colorado’s Breckenridge currently has upper base depths of 145cm, while Utah’s Alta has 236cm.

Both resorts can expect some new snow over the next few days though it won’t be cold, so rain is possible at lower elevations, especially in Utah. 

For daily weather bulletins from Fraser then follow it all at

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

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