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Snow round up - where it is, where it isn't.
Saturday December 20, 2008 - Email this article to a friend

Here's our weekly update of conditions. It's looking pretty good but we do have a few words of caution.

You will already know it's been a great start to the winter, but it doesn't mean it's good everywhere all the time.

According to the well-respected Henry's Avalanche Talk, Val d’Isere and Tignes in France have had almost 2 metres of snow last week, but the storm passed by Les Arcs just a few kilometres away.

The resort has good snow, but nothing like the Espace Killy.

guide_400Here at PlanetSKI we were talking to some Mountain Guides in Verbier who had just returned from a day skiing above 3,000m and they told us that the snow levels at high altitude are pretty much on average with previous years and that many of the crevaces are not yet filled in. "Up high it is nothing exceptional at the moment.  Most of the snow has fallen at low to medium altitudes and the strong winds have blown alot of snow away in the high alpine areas," they told us.

Also as we sit writing this in our Swiss office above the resort of Verbier there is a thaw going on.  A warm wind has come from the south and some of the snow in the resort is melting. 

But there's still quite a bit here so let's not get carried away - there is loads of snow and it's great.

But we also remember the over-reaction to the poor snow 2 years ago with some predicting the end of sking as we know it and many resorts closing due to a lack of snow.

We don't feel we should over-react to the abundance of snow and think it will always be great forever. Neither do we think the threat of climate change has gone away.

Here at PlanetSKI we'll try to keep you posted on the facts this winter.

In the meantime take a look at the facts from our friends over at www.skiinfo.com

It makes great reading.

France continues to receive heavy snowfalls in the Alps and Pyrenees with
Skiinfo issuing powder alarms of up to 60cm (two feet) of new snow at some
areas.  Montgenèvre got another  40cm (16 inches) and Val d'Isère 20cm
(eight inches) more on Tuesday alone.  But all the snow means there is a
high risk of avalanche everywhere.

The greatest snow depths are reported at Valberg  260cm (8.7 feet) and Isola
2000 250cm (8.3 feet), but many resorts have base depths of more than two
metres (6.7 feet), including Meribel.

In Austria snow falls and snow depth are if anything, even greater than
France – although with everywhere in the happy position of having so much,
why quibble over a few inches?  The Mölltal Glacier reports  310cm (over 10
feet) and Obergurgl 255cm (8.6 feet).

Fresh snowfalls totaling up to 1.2m (four feet) have been reported at some
Austrian resorts over the past week with Nassfeld Hermagor reporting 120cm
of new snow, Bad Gastein 95cm (over three feet).

Snowfalls in Germany to the north have been more modest with Balderschwang
receiving 20cm (eight inches) more last Friday, taking base depths to 100cm
(40 inches) on upper slopes, one of the deepest in the country.


Switzerland has once again received big snowfalls in the past week with
Zermatt, once again, one of the leading beneficiaries receiving yet another
85cm (nearly three feet) over the past seven days.  Nearby Saas Fee got 65cm
(26 inches) and St Moritz 50cm (20 inches).

Disentis has the most snow with 350cm (nearly 12 feet) on upper slopes.  Saas Fee has 288cm
(nearly 190 feet) and Zermatt 250cm (over eight feet).

s_3To the south the snowfall that has brought parts of Italy to a standstill
has not let up with the country’s north east getting the heaviest falls in
the past week which has partially cut off some ski towns like La Thuile and
Sauze d’Oulx.  As a result Alagna in Monterosa has some of the greatest snow
depths in the world at present with 420cm (14 feet) on upper slopes although
Arabba in the Dolomites leads the way with 480cm (16 feet).  Many other
resorts now have three metres plus (over ten feet) bases.

The huge snowfalls in the Pyrenees have perhaps been the biggest snow story
of the past month, because conditions have been rather lackluster there in
recent seasons. In Andorra virtually all runs are open and snow depths have
reached 170cm (nearly six feet) in VallNord, with similar conditions in
GrandValira, which reported another 15cm (six inches) of snow on Monday.

I
t’s much the same on both the Spanish and French side of the chain with
Spain’s Baqueria Beret reporting that the more than four metres of snow it
has received in the past month is the most it has ever received this early
in the season. It currently has 225cm (7.5 feet) on upper slopes.  Many
Spanish  resorts have reached two metres (seven feet) of fresh powder snow
depth.

s_2_400I
n Norway there will be 50 ski resorts open this weekend and Skiinfo 
reports eight of them are expecting over 50cm (20 inches) of fresh snow over
the next four days.  XC skiing is fantastic too.

In Eastern Europe conditions remain ‘challenging’ with only Bansko in Bulgaria open and with very limited
terrain on largely machine made snow.  Borovets reported light snowfall
early in the week but needs much more.

I
n Scotland the situation has deteriorated a little in the past week with
warmer temperatures bringing a thaw and Glenshee no longer open until the
next snow comes. There’s very limited terrain open at Cairngorm and the
Lecht
with the situation being reviewed daily.

I
n the southern hemisphere too the resort of Whakapapa in New Zealand which
has managed to offer summer skiing the past few years and had great snowfall
over their winter months has just announced it won’t be offering Christmas
skiing this year due to recent warm weather melting the remaining snow too
much.
In North America the one area that had been having serious problems with
lack of snow – the West Coast to the rest of the Rockies, has at last had
some healthy falls in many areas with most resorts finally opening or able
to open more terrain.

“A strong cold North Pacific winter storm brought snow at a rate of 1 inch
(2.5cm) per hour, with snow fall totals ranging between 22 and 36 inches,”
Squaw Valley USA in California reported on Monday.  “The US National Weather
Service is calling for another 18-30 inches and continued snow showers are
in the forecast through to Tuesday December 23rd.”   

s_1_400There’s been more snow in Canada too. Marmot Basin which was one of the
first on the continent to open last month and has had consistently good snow
since we received 55cm (22 inches) of new snow over the past week
and 20cm (eight inches) of new snow last Friday alone.

“This means we will be opening a whole bunch more runs and ski lifts this
weekend as conditions are superb.” said the resort’s Brian Rode.

Visit Skiinfo to sign up for powder alarms from your favourite
resorts, check current snow conditions and projected snowfalls with snow
finder as well as exchange news and views in the Skier’ Lounge.

For the current top five snow depths in countries across Europe please see:
www.skiinfo.com

Skiinfo  also projects where the snow is likely to fall in the near
future through its Snow Finder service:
www.skiinfo.com

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