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Saturday January 6, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

The huge storm has passed with access by road & rail opening after 2m of snow fell in 48-hours. PlanetSKI has been in the thick of it.







The authorities are still opening some rail and road links to the ski resorts hit by the 2m snowstorm of earlier in the week.  

The full details can be seen in yesterday's post below.

And before we go through all the detail we thought you might like to see these videos of all the snow from our chief reporter, Jane Peel, who is in Les Arcs and our senior news reporter, Katie Bamber, who is in Valmorel in France.


So, what about the clear up operation?

We can report that the rail link to Zermatt is now open - finally.

"After being cut off for almost two days, Zermatt can now be accessed by train again," said a statement from the resort's tourist office.

"The guests and local residents weren't placed in any danger at any time - they had power and supplies."

Footage of Zermatt evacuation below posted on YouTube today:

And the road to neighbouring Saas-Fee to now open.

The roads to the French resorts are mostly clear and it is similar in Italy.

Roads to the Alpine resorts of Cervinia and Cogne in Valle d'Aosta have re-opened.

Valnontey, Gaby, Gressoney-Saint-Jean and Gressoney-La-Trinité are expected to re-open shortly.

Cervinia, ItalyCervinia, Italy
















And best of all slopes and lifts are opening, but there remains a high danger of avalanche and extreme caution is advised.

In many places affected from the snow the level has dropped from 5 to 3 but that still means there is 'considerable' danger of avalanches.

Swiss avalanche situation, Thursday 11th JanuarySwiss avalanche situation, Thursday 11th January















Parts of Italy and France remain on 4.

So, what about the forecast?

"After a relatively benign few days of weather, it looks like it will become very unsettled again from the middle part of next week with further heavy snow for many," said the alpine weather expert Fraser Wilkin from

Fraser will be writing his weekly snow report for PlanetSKI later today so do check back for that.

And if you want to get out to the mountains to enjoy the snow, then check out some of the last minute offers from our friends over at Ski-Flights.

The resort that saw the most snow is Bonneval-sur-Arc in France.

This photo has gone viral:

Bonneval-sur-Arc, Photo c/o Alain DuclosBonneval-sur-Arc, Photo c/o Alain Duclos















And here is a video from the height of the storm:

And here is the village after the storm.

Bonneval-sur-Arc, FranceBonneval-sur-Arc, France














Bonneval-sur-Arc, FranceBonneval-sur-Arc, France














Bonneval-sur-Arc, FranceBonneval-sur-Arc, France















Meanwhile here are more images of the snow:    

Val Thorens, FranceVal Thorens, France

Val Thorens, FranceVal Thorens, France

Here's one of our reporters in Tignes, Squash Falconer.

Tignes, FranceTignes, France

Pila, Aosta Valley, ItalyPila, Aosta Valley, Italy


The storm has eased off and a massive clearing up operation is once again underway across the resorts affected in France, Switzerland and Italy.

The full details as the storm struck can be read further down this article from Monday and Tuesday - it makes some amazing reading, with some even more incredible images and videos, so do scroll down.

It was one of the biggest storms of the winter, and there have been a few so far.

The resort that received some of the biggest falls is Bonneval- sur-Arc in France.

We posted this photo as the storm started.

Yet more snow!Monday 8th January













And here is what the access road now looks like:

Bonneval-sur-Arc, Photo c/o Alain DuclosBonneval-sur-Arc, Photo c/o Alain Duclos















"A lot of staff on the ground to secure the road between bessans and bonneval-Sur-Arc, where an avalanche of 7 metres swallowed up. Courage to them. The Village is still without electricity this morning," said a statement from the resort.

An avalanche hit the resort of Les Houches, near Chamonix. 

Chalets and vehicles were damaged, but there are no reports of injuries. 

This morning the weather is finally clear across the Alps with a few small flurries.

The avalanche level remains high and access roads and rail links are now re-opening to the resorts cut off.

Clearing up underwayClearing up underway, Crans-Montana, Switzerland
















The main resorts cut offThe main resorts cut off






The closure of Zermatt seems to have grabbed the headlines of the mainstream media.

The rail line to the car-free resort of Zermatt actually closes quite often in the winter after a big snowstorm as it has steep slopes above it so it is actually not very big news as people in Zermatt are often 'stranded'.

This time is diffeent due tto the length of the closure.

Part of the line was set to re-open from Zermatt to Täsch at 11.15 this morning and then shuttle busses were be laid on to take people down the valley to Visp.

The railway line to Visp was planned to open at 12.00.

However this has now been put back as the snow clearing is taking longer than planned.

"Contrary to a previous report from 9.20am, the Täsch-Zermatt shuttle can not be re-opened from 11.15am. During the clearing work large amounts of snow were found in the portal area of ​​the gallery "Unnerchriz", which made the clearing much more difficult," said a statement from the rail company.

The masses of snow came from an avalanche from the previous days and were not visible on the previous reconnaissance flight by helicopter.

The route Täsch-Zermatt therefore remains closed until further notice.

The road to the neighbouring Swiss resort of Saas-Fee also remains closed.

But the Matterhorn is finally in view.

Zermatt, SwitzerlandZermatt, Switzerland













Some people have opted to be flown out by helicopter at a cost of 70 CHF (£52).

"Power has returned, there's still the chance that it could go out ... but at this time things look good. The atmosphere in the village is relaxed and comfortable," said a spokeswoman from the resort.

The image below shows an avalanche on the approach to the resort taken from a helicopter of Air Zermatt.

Zermatt, SwitzerlandZermatt, Switzerland

We have a series of images from one of the resort's ski schools, European Snowsport, at the end of today's post so do check them out.

Here's one:

Zermatt, SwitzerlandZermatt, Switzerland

The neighbouring resort of Cervinia in Italy also remains cut off with the main road closed and people are asked not to drive cars in the resort.

This is not because of danger of avalanche but more so the snowploughs can do their work.

"We announce that the road from Cervinia to Valtournenche will remain closed until tomorrow, January 10th," said the resort on Tuesday evening.

"In the morning the Avalanches Commission will meet to decide a possible reopening. Due to the critical conditions in Breuil-Cervinia we recommend to avoid going outdoors and to stay indoors, limiting walking as much as possible."

Cervinia, ItalyCervinia, Italy

An avalanche hit a 5-storey building in Sestriere in Italy late on Monday, but the 29 people staying in the building escaped without injury escaping through the garage.

The first downhill training run for the men's World Cup in Wengen in Switzerland this weekend was cancelled.

Organisers said snow and high winds had caused significant damage.

Winds of up to 200kph (125mph) damaged the tents and the stands in the finish area. The race course itself was unaffected.

France has also been affected but the storm has passed.

Two of the worst affected resorts were Tignes and Val d'Isere.

According to the weather forecasters at Meteo-Alpes, the amount of snow that has fallen in Tignes is the greatest in January since measurements began in 1981 and close to an absolute record.

It's thought that the winters of 1966 and 1970 may have had greater snowfall but no records exist.

Tignes managed to get just over half their lifts up and running on Wednesday, while Val d'Isere had 17 out of 40 lifts in operation.

Those who ventured out after the lockdown told PlanetSKI the snow was good on piste.

"Flat light for the most part with a few bright periods throughout the day," said Alexandra Beuchert.

"Pistes in nice condition; we mainly stayed off piste & the powder was alright, definitely silky in the AM & heavier (& more tracked) in the PM. Some sections are wind-affected, and numerous lifts closed across Espace Killy."

Nearby Les Arcs was on the edge of the latest snowstorm, benefiting from some decent snowfall but not the chaos.

"The temperature has dropped here to more like the usual January temperatures and today the snow conditions were fantastic, though the weather was cloudy," PlanetSKI's chief reporter Jane Peel said.

Les ArcsLes Arcs, Wednesday 10th January
















VillarogerVillaroger, Les Arcs - Wednesday 10th January
















Here is what it looks like in Les3Vallees. 
St Martin de Belleville, FranceSt Martin de Belleville, France

St Martin de Belleville, FranceSt Martin de Belleville, France

At the ski areas highest resort, Val Thorens, the snow fell in huge quantities.

Val Thorens, FranceVal Thorens, France

Val Thorens, FranceVal Thorens, France

Here at PlanetSKI we will be updating this article throughout the day from our team of reporters across the Alps so do check back for the latest.

And, as promised, here are some images from the village of Zermatt as the storm struck:

Zermatt, SwitzerlandZermatt, Switzerland

Zermatt, SwitzerlandZermatt, Switzerland

Zermatt, SwitzerlandZermatt, Switzerland

Zermatt, SwitzerlandZermatt, Switzerland

Zermatt, SwitzerlandZermatt, Switzerland


The latest snowstorm is continuing to batter parts of the Alps and it's having a serious effect in unexpected places.

A nine-year-old girl was buried by an avalanche and several children aged five to 10 were hit by the slide on a green run in the badly-hit Savoie region of France this afternoon.

The girl was found very quickly after her boot was seen protruding from the snow and she was unharmed.

The avalanche crossed the beginner's run in Lauzes in Valeminier, close to the Italian border at around 2.30pm, as two groups of children were with their instructors.

The avalanche was 20m wide and 1.5m deep.

60 people were involved in a search for potential victims.

avalanchesLocation of avalanches - Google Maps














Another avalanche at nearby Valloire, also came down on a green run, but no one was hit by it.

Across parts of the Alps there has been some of the heaviest snow of the winter and we look at the impact country by country.


Around 13,000 tourists are cut off in the resort of Zermatt.

There are around 13,400 beds available for tourists in Zermatt: 7,200 in hotels and 6,200 in holiday apartments.   

One is PlanetSKI reader Veronica Clarke. 

"The whole of the resort is closed today. The train to and from Zermatt is also shut so nobody can arrive or depart and people have been told to stay inside," said Veronica.  

Avalanche over the rail lineAvalanche over the rail line

Lift system shutLift system shut


Another of our readers is Rowena Philips from the local ski school, Matterhorn Diamonds.

"There have been multiple avalanches and people have been advised to stay inside so the snow clearing could be continued safely.  There are many remote detonation places and the piste patrol were blasting through the night and this morning, " said Rowena.

She has sent us this picture of the terrace at the mountain restaurant, Chez Vrony.

Chez Vrony, Zermatt, SwitzerlandChez Vrony, Zermatt, Switzerland

A level 5 avalanche risk - the highest risk level - was declared in parts of canton Valais where Zermatt is located.
Swiss avalanche risk, Tuesday 9th JanuarySwiss avalanche risk, Tuesday 9th January

Late on Tuesday in Zermatt it was reduced to Level 4.

The risk comes from the new snow that has fallen on the huge snowfalls of earlier in the season.  

The temperature has also risen making the snow wet and heavy.  

The neighbouring resort of Saas-Fee is also cut off. 

Heavy snow has also blocked access to other Valais villages and resorts, including Arolla, Visperterminen and Simplon.  

In Visp 20 people were evacuated from their homes after a mud and snowslide sent debris into a portion of the town.  

The PlanetSKI editor, James Cove,  is the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana in the Valais Canton, across the valley from Zermatt.  

"There is an avalanche risk of 3 and much of the lift system here is closed," said James. "The shutters are down at the lift ticket offices at one end of the resort."   

Crans-Montana, SwitzerlandCrans-Montana, Switzerland

But there is some skiing to be had.

Crans-Montana, SwitzerlandCrans-Montana, Switzerland


Tignes, Val d'Isere and other local ski areas in France are closed as up to 2m of snow falls.

Here is Tignes where the resort has been on lockdown.

Tignes, FranceTignes, France















The extraordinary start to the season of 2017/18 is continuing.    

Val d'Isere, c/o Stepanhe WieheVal d'Isere, c/o Stepanhe Wiehe

Tignes c/o Alan Keith Hole Tignes c/o Alan Keith Hole



This afternoon, the snow had finally stopped and Bob Stickland ventured out to take this photo of Lou Saddler:

TignesHolding back the snow - photo Bob Stickland

And PlanetSKI reader David Morgan sent this timelapse video of him clearing his balcony of snow, supervised by Scotty the dog.

PlanetSKI's chief reporter is currently not far away in the Paradiski area of France where there was fresh snow overnight, increasing the avalanche risk to 4,  and good conditions on piste.

Check out her video report:


Les ArcsLes Arcs, Tuesday 9th January
















The road to Val Thorens in Les3Vallees has been shut.

Here is La Rosiere in France:

La Rosiere, FranceLa Rosiere, France

La Rosiere, FranceLa Rosiere, France

In France the Savoie is on Level 5. Meteo France describes the danger as of "exceptional intensity".

The Hautes-Alpes area is on Level 4.

Lower than other big-name resorts of the Tarentaise Valley, Valmorel has today avoided being hit by the hard weather that's rallied in the resorts further up the valley.

In fact, PlanetSKI had the ideal ski day after what was worrying rain at 1,300m last night.

Blue skies, low temperatures and powder on piste greeted Tuesday:

First thing in ValmorelFirst thing in Valmorel




Cervinia is cut off with the access road closed and the resort itself is also shut.  

Not a single lift in Cervinia is running.  

And the resort didn't even have to decide this morning once the experts assessed the conditions and weighed up all the factors.  

The decision was made yesterday. 

"We wish to inform you that on the day of tomorrow, 9 January, the-Cervinia lifts will be closed all day," said a statement from the resort on Monday.  

And parts of the village of Champoluc are being evacauated and the road to Monterosa is closed.

Champoluc, ItalyChampoluc, Italy

The road to Monterosa, ItalyThe road to Monterosa, Italy

Here at PlanetSKI we have reporters across the mountains and we will be updating this article later today so do check back.  

Our main reporting team is in Les Arcs and Valmorel in France, Crans-Montana in Switzerland and in Soldeu in Andorra.

In a couple of days we will have others in Nassfeld in Austria and Serre Chevalier in the southern French Alps.  

And our readers are sending us pictures and info - keep it up everyone!


Another large storm is battering parts of the Alps.

It is not as extensive as last week's huge storm, but in places it is just as ferocious.

There is up to 2m of snow falling in the western Italian Alps and it is spilling over the border into parts of France.

In Italy the areas around Monte Rosa is being hit hard and it is affecting Zermatt & Saas-Fee in Switzerland plus Val d'Isere and Tignes in France too.

In Bonneval sur Arc the pisteurs have posted this image.

Never mind the lifts not working, it's impossible to get to the lift pass office to buy a ticket!

Yet more snow!Yet more snow!













Some of our friends in Tignes, which has been almost submerged in snow again, have posted these pictures of the resort today:

Tignes 8th JanuaryTignes, 8th January - photo Christine Bird












Tignes, 8th JanuaryTignes, 8th January - photo Simon Perry




















And we advise you to look at the photos above a second time if your eyes just glanced over it - the street lamp is virtually buried!

The whole ski area was closed today and the avalanche risk was back up to 5 out of 5.

It is a similar picture in neighbouring Val d'Isere.

Val d'Isere, FranceVal d'Isere, France




















Again the avalanche risk is also 5 out of 5 and roads have been closed in the town for fear of slides.

Roads closedRoads closed













However much of it is falling as rain across other parts of the Alps with many resorts washed out.

Go away rain!Go away rain!
















It was decidedly wet this morning in the Les Arcs ski area in France.

High winds shut many of the lifts and hence the links between the different sectors.

Along with the poor visibility, the only option was to stay low in the trees.

That's what our chief reporter Jane Peel did - until, that is, her gloves needed wringing out.

Jane Peel in VallandryJane in the snow - the wet kind of snow

"There was some snow at the top of the lifts above Peisey-Vallandry - enough to settle on the trees and make it look quite attractive," she said.

SnowPeisey-Vallandry, Monday 8th January

"Unfortunately, the snow that fell was quite heavy going in the mild temperatures and the further down the mountain you got, the wetter it got as the precipitation turned to sleet and then rain.

"The pistes were in a reasonable condition, all things considered, and it was fun, in a masochistic sort of way!

"The sun poked out through the clouds briefly but by then, I was on the way home to dry off."

Over in Switzerland, Zermatt, has also seen some fresh snow today and is on the edge of the latest storm.

Zermatt, SwitzerlandZermatt, Switzerland
















Meanwhile one area that is doing well for snow and has been somewhat under-reported recently with all the snow in the Alps is the Pyrenees.

It too is seeing heavy snow.

PlanetSKI has just arrived in Andorra to be greeted by this: Smile

Andorra under snowAndorra under snow

















Digging out the car in Soldeu in the Grandvalira area of Andorra!

See here for further details from Kisia Cove in our rolling blog from Andorra.

PlanetSKI reporters are now out and about across the mountains and we will be updating this report later today so do check back.


This was the scene in Verbier, Switzerland, on Sunday morning with the weather set to remain cloudy all day with more snow and rain for Monday.

 Sunday morning in SwitzerlandSunday morning in Switzerland















Up on the slopes the rain has taken its toll with much of the off piste below about 2,300m ruined by the torrential rain.

It has created some strange patterns in the snow as it runs off the snow pack.

Patterns in the snowPatterns in the snow
















Ruined by rainRuined by rain
















"The good news in Verbier is there is full coverage on all the slopes," said the PlanetSKI editor, James Cove.

"The bad news is the ski areas were hammered by the rain last week that fell up to 2,300m and it has now frozen making the slopes hard packed and icy with much of the off piste impossible.

"Higher up it is a different story but much of the ski area has been damaged by the torrential rain."

Higher up though there is powder to be found.

Verbier, SwitzerlandVerbier, Switzerland















And the rain has had it effect elsewhere in the Alps.

Here is a video from our reporter in Les2Alpes, Rod Frazer, from the British Alpine Ski School, BASS.

He explains how the rain has affected the off piste in the resort.

In Les Arcs in the French Alps, Sunday morning broke with a few clear holes in a largely cloudy sky.

Our chief reporter Jane Peel was out and about on the slopes from first thing, checking out the conditions:


Les Arcs saw a few snow flurries at altitude but they were accompanied by high winds which resulted in the early closure of several lifts.

The best skiing was to be found in the trees, particularly the runs down towards Vallandry.


Saturday was the busy transfer day after the New Year break so the holiday skiers were heading home or coming out.

But locals were out in their droves after the snowstorm.

In Verbier in Switzerland some of the main connecting lifts had queues of up to an hour.

Elsewhere it looked pretty and the pistes are in excellent shape according to the reports we have received though many are icy after the rain.

The rain has also played havoc with the off piste.

Tignes, FranceTignes, France














Tignes, FranceTignes, France

















"Calm after several days of storm... what a beautiful day to ski," said a statement from Les Arcs on its Facebook page.

Les Arcs, FranceLes Arcs, France











It was an unprecedented storm that hit the Alps this week.

A huge 48-hour snowstorm with winds gusting to 150 km/hr.  It left 2m of snow at altitude in places but there was torrential rain - not just low down but up to 2,300m.

Resorts were cut off as road and rail links were closed.

In France many resorts shut completely as the avalanche risk was 5 out of 5.

Here at PlanetSKI we have never known such a high risk across such a large area - and we've been around a bit!

Thousands of people were trapped in the resorts of Val d'Isere/Tignes,Val Thorens and Les Arcs to name just a few.

10,000 people were trapped in Cervinia in Italy after 2m of snow fell.

Neighbouring Zermatt in Switzerland was also cut off as the rail and road access were hit by avalanches.

See this huge one that came across the road between Tasch and Zermatt.

We advise you to keep catching this slow moving slide to get a grasp of how much snow fell and how dangerous and powerful the thick, wet snow is.

Since the storm eased a massive clear-up operation has been underway with resorts re-opening, access roads cleared and ski lifts running again.

People kept themselves entertained and amused as we reported in this article

However it remains very dangerous in many places and off piste skiing should only be undertaken if people have experience and knowledge of the snowpack or are with a qualified professional.

In Switzerland it remains at 4 and is similar in Austria, France and Italy.

On Friday two German skiers were in an avalanche in Austria.

The men, ages 25 and 26, were buried by the avalanche on Friday near Kals in the Tirol.

One man was found on Friday and the second after further searches on Saturday.

Three people died in the storm in the French Alps: a 93-year-old woman whose home was flooded in Isère, a farmer buried by snow in Savoie and a skier killed was killed by a falling tree in Morillon.

In Italy a mother and daughter died in an avalanche.

"Don't be surprised if it takes some time to get some of the higher ski areas anything like close to fully operational though. Please also note that the risk of avalanche remains extremely high and that off-piste is strongly discouraged virtually everywhere in the Alps right now," said the alpine snow expert Fraser Wilkin from

This weekend a World Cup race is taking place in Adelboden in Switzerland and we will of course be watching out for Dave Ryding in action on Sunday in the slalom after his 7th place in Zagreb.

Adleboden itself was cut off and there were fears the event may have to be cancelled.

The Swiss army was flown in by helicopter to clear the snow & debris and the racing is now underway.

The storm came after the snow chaos of last weekend when another storm hit on the busy Saturday transfer day.

Thousands were stranded in France and Chambery airport was at a standstill.

This Saturday is a different picture.

"I am heading off on a 10-day tour of a few Swiss resorts and I'm delighted to say the journey was a straightforward affair, " said the PlanetSKI editor, James Cove.

"I travel as I always like to when heading to Switzerland; Swiss out of London City airport where the queues are usually non-existent and the atmosphere relaxed, and then by the ever-efficient Swiss Rail. The journey was a breeze."

London City airportLondon City airport
















"As I flew over the Jura mountains into Geneva there was not so much snow on the ground after the rain and high winds but the Alps in the distance look very welcoming indeed sitting above the clouds," James added.

The JuraThe Jura
















The AlpsThe Alps
















James is spending a couple of days with friends in Verbier, before heading round to Crans-Montana for an industry event, the European Mountain Travel Summit (EMTS).

Then it is a tour round some of the lesser-known Swiss resorts: Nax, Vercorin and St-Luc/Chandolin.

The whole team at PlanetSKI is taking advantage of the excellent January conditions and our reporters are out and about this week.

Our chief reporter, Jane Peel, headed to Les Arcs on Saturday, one of the resorts cut off by the storm.

Jane arrived in the vast Paradiski area where the sun was out after the snow and the rain.

This is the view from her balcony in the Peisey-Vallandry ski area, overlooking over the Vanoise Express cable car that links Les Arcs and La Plagne on Saturday afternoon.

Vanoise Express, Peisey-VallandryPeisey-Vallandry, Les Arcs













Meanwhile our senior news reporter, Katie Bamber, will be in Valmorel in France on Monday and our roving reporter, James Rampton, will be across the Alps in Austria mid-week reporting from Nassfeld before he heads round to St Moritz in Switzerland.

Our social media editor, Kisia Cove, is heading to the Pyrenees on Sunday - Andorra to be precise.

She hasn't skied there for a decade or so and is using a bit of modern technology to plan her visit: the Crystal Ski Exlorers App.

Andorroa too has had some snow.

And then Kisia is in Wengen in Switzerland before heading to Pila in the Aosta Valley in Italy.

So, if you want to find out about conditions across the mountains and what is going on this season in the mountains then do check back.

Oh, and just in case you are wondering about the weather forecast:

"The big storm is now over, but another is already waiting in the wings! The next storm will hit the Alps later this weekend, with the heaviest precipitation focused on the western Italian Alps and some adjacent border regions," said Fraser Wilkin from

Check back on PlanetSKI for further details.

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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