Skiinfo reports that it’s cold across Europe and it’s been snowing, often heavily, right across the continent, with hundreds of powder alarms (snowfall at an individual resort of more than 20cm/8 inches in 24 hours) released to subscribers over the past five days. The snow is still falling and conditions are excellent at almost all major resorts, but beware of avalanche danger conditions off piste.
Skiinfo has released more than 50 powder alarms for French resorts since last Friday. The Pyrenees have seen the heaviest snow, with one resort reporting a metre (3.3 feet) of snow in 48 hours over the weekend. Vincent Doutres Business Manager of Espaces Cauterts (picture attached) in Pyrenees told skiinfo: "In Espaces Cauterets we have a superb snow. This week it snowed a metre in 48 hours. The ski area was entirely safe this weekend but we closed 15% of the terrain for security reasons. Those runs are in a slightly sensitive area. Our guests must beware of off-piste skiing as the avalanche risk was 4 / 5 in all stations of the Pyrenees because of heavy snowfalls in recent days. The snowpack needs a little time to stabilize. The snow conditions are ideal for the 20,000 skiers expected next week for the February vacation". There have also been large snowfalls in the Northern Alps with Avoriaz reporting 60cm (two feet) of new snow. Chamonix Mont-Blanc reports its base remains the world’s deepest at 4.2m. Alpe d'Huez now has 3.2m (Nearly 11 feet), Flaine 282cm (9.5 feet) and La Clusaz 2.7m (9 feet).
To the east, Swiss resorts have reported huge snowfalls over the past few days, led by Filzbach - Kerenzerberg which has received two metres (Nearly 7 feet) of new snow in the past week.
Andermatt has the second deepest snow depth in Switzerland at present with 2.4m (8 feet) on the mountain and 150cm (5 feet) in the valley. On Friday the resort issued a powder alarm and has also reported 45cm (18 inches) of new snow in seven days. "At the moment there is more than enough snow to enjoy all kinds of winter sports here in Andermatt. Freeriders will also get what they want. On the slope with its beautiful new snow it’s a real pleasure to enjoy the great skiing and boarding", Peter Heinzer, managing director of Andermatt-Gotthard Sportbahnen, told Skiinfo’s Pascal Bovee. Most of the leading resorts have reported between 30 and 60cm (1-2 feet) of new snow over the weekend, including Crans Montana, the Four Valleys and Saas Fee.
Italy has seen plenty of snow in the past week too, if perhaps a little less than the northern Alps. Falls of 30-50cm (12-20 inches) over the past week have been reported by resorts like Andalo and Piancavallo. The Marmolada glacier has a 3.8m (nearly 13 foot base), Bormio 3m (10 feet) and Courmayeur up to 245cm (8 feet).
In the Central and Eastern Alps, Austria has been seeing some big snowfalls too, right across the country. St Anton has reported another 15cm (six inches) of snow today which follows on reports of 20cm (8 inches) yesterday in the SkiWelt, Kitzbuhel, St Johann and many other Austrian resorts. Over the past week Austrian resorts have accumulated up to 80cm (2.7 feet) of powder, with the Kleinwalsertal region reporting 75cm (2.5 feet) of new snow and St Johann 60cm (two feet).
Germany to the north is absolutely drowning in powder at the moment with Skiinfo issuing more than 100 powder alarms, for snowfalls of 20cm (8 inches) in less than 24 hours, since Friday. In the Allgäu the resorts Alpsee Bergwelt and Grasgehren reported half a metre of new snow on Sunday. The latter has 180cm (six feet) of snow on its upper slopes now. Oberstdorf's ski resort got 20-30cm yesterday. The biggest snowfalls of the last few days were reported from the Sauerland (Central Uplands) though Giller-Hilchenbach topped the list with 70cm in 24 hours this morning. Medebach had reported the same yesterday. It still hasn’t stopped snowing with 19 new powder alarms where issued so far this morning, especially in the Bavarian Forest and the Sauerland in North Rhine-Westphalia. Balderschwang in the Allgäu has reported nearly 1.4m of snow in the last week. Werner Fritz of Guest Information Balderschwang told Skiinfo the current snow depth there is between 100 and 150 cm. "At the moment we have ‘champagne powder’ that couldn’t be any better. The slopes are perfectly prepared", he said.
As mentioned above, the Pyrenees are seeing lots of snow, and that goes for Spain and Andorra as well as France. The top Spanish ski resorts have reported powder conditions with snow depths of up to 225cm (7.5 feet) on their side of the mountain range. The country’s two largest resorts Baqueira (120-185cm) and Formigal (105-220cm) have 110-124km of piste open respectively. Elsewhere in Spain there’s up to three metres (10 feet) at Sierra Nevada.
Pirena 2010 Grand Prix Affinity Advance will finish next Saturday in the ski resort of La Molina. The 20th edition of Pirena, the white route of the Pyrenees, started last January 23 with the official Presentation of the teams in Zaragoza. Pirena is an international sleddog crossing-race and one of the most outstanding in the world. During 15 days men and dogs cross the Pyrenees, a natural border between Spain, Andorra and France, from West to East (Itinerary). Pirena 2010– Grand Prix Affinity Advance is one of the races that count for the International Sled dog Sports Federation –IFSS- World Cup. Pirena also counts for the European Sled dog Racing Association –ESDRA- Europe Cup.
Ski conditions in Norway are great right now with constant low temperatures and big falls of snow at most resorts. This week 50 ski resorts have had some fresh snow, with resorts in the west of the country like Strandafjellet and Stordal reporting a full metre of snow in the past seven days.
Over to the east in Sweden all ski resorts are now open an most of them have at least 80% of their slopes and lifts open. According to Skiinfo’s Snowfinder service, more snow is coming the next four days. It has been snowing in large parts of the country the past seven days with Nalovardo getting the most with 23cm (9.5 inches), Hassela 20cm, Bjursås and the largest, Åre 16cm. Temperatures have dipped as low as -20C in recent days in the north of the country and it remains below freezing in the south too. More snow is expected through the rest of today and Thursday, especially in the south, where forecasts say up to 20cm will fall. So ski slopes in Sweden are in great condition all over the country at present.
It’s still a mixed picture in Eastern Europe however. While resorts in the Czech and Slovak Republics have issued plenty of powder alarms in recent days, Poland hasn’t had a great start to the winter, but has had some good snowfalls in recent days, Ms Teresa Kęsek from Polskie Koleje Linowe told skiinfo.pl, "After a long wait, skiers can finally ski in Kasprowy Wierch, part of Poland’s leading Zakopane ski area. At the moment one slope in open in Kocioł Gąsienicowy. We’re now waiting for the snow depth to build to 50cm when we will be able to run the Kocioł Goryczkowy chairlift. The very late opening of the slopes is because of adverse snow conditions and there being no possibility of using snowing system in area of Tatra National Park in Poland". Dwie Doliny Muszyna - Wierchomla has the deepest snow in Poland with a 120cm (4 foot) base.
Bulgaria to the south has had fresh snow this week – bases at the main resorts there currently range from 30 – 120cm (1-4 feet).
Not one of Europe’s best known ski destinations, Belgium’s ski slopes in the country’s southern Ardennes region are currently reporting excellent conditions, with falls of up to 35cm (14 inches) at once. The heavy snowfall wasn’t good news for everyone though, trucks got in trouble driving the E25 Route du Soleil through the Belgium Ardennes. Some trucks didn´t make it up hill, and blocked the road, with a major traffic jam with over 500 trucks as a result. Most truckers and also private car drivers had to sleep in their vehicles before the road reopened next day. Belgian resorts including Mont Spinett, Signal de Botrange, Mont Rigi, Baraque Michel, Rocherath Eifel Ski Zentrum and Ovifat Alpine Resort received up to 50cm (20 inches) of snow in the last week. The same resorts claim the deepest snow depth in the country with 40cm (16 inches) of snow. "It’s a long time since we´ve seen a snowy winter like this one, people - locals and tourists alike, are enjoying the fresh snow cover in the natural environment", commented Lennert Van Loo, country manager for skiinfo.be.
Scotland’s ski areas have continued to receive more fresh snow although Cairngorm, which has the best conditions, has revised its accumulated total down to 150cm (five feet) at the top. All five areas are open and ready for the school holiday period over the next fortnight.
In North America the news is generally good too, with cold weather predominant on both West and East coasts at present, and many resorts reporting 6-18 inches of new snow in the past week on both sides of the continent. Conditions at Whistler with the Olympics just over a week away are reported to be excellent, although snowboard and freestyle venue Cypress mountain is still battling an unseasonal thaw, currently trucking in snow to top up diminishing cover.