Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Winter's nearly here

Les Marades, Arinsal - Yesterday

Well, I guess summer is finally over, although I've had some pretty good days rock climbing in shorts and T-Shirt as recently as a week ago. Winter is fast approaching, as you can see from the photos above taken whilst ski touring yesterday (well skinning up the closed pistes which is sort of like ski touring). Over the next month or so ski resorts around the northern hemisphere will be opening - some in November to cater for the early bird skiers, others waiting until December giving them more time to get the pistes in good condition. Opening early is good publicity for a resort, but doesn't necessarily mean they have better snow than their neighbours. It is also true that resorts opening early may well have quite a limited portion of the ski area open.

Having said all that, there is something really satisfying about skiing up to a month before most people even consider taking their holiday. The resorts are quiet apart from the arriving seasonal staff, and the pistes that are open will probably be well prepared and empty. Squeezing in a ski weekend in November is not that dificult with budget flights and a hire car - renting a car is recommended though as it can be harder to find transfers  at this time of year. A hire car also gives you more flexibility to drive in search of the best snow. If you work Monday to Friday you will probably need to take some time off on the Friday or Monday, but it will be worth it for the envious looks of your colleagues when you get back from the slopes.

Don't be worried if you arrive in the resort and there is no snow on the ground. The best skiing will usually be higher up, and the natural snow will be backed up with snow making. Unless you are very lucky you probably will not be skiing much back country and powder, so just enjoy the empty pistes and the privilege of being amongst the first people on the slopes this year.