Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Reconaissance walks

Whilst waiting for the snow to arrive, I took a walk out into the back country yesterday to have a look at the conditions. I have some climbs and ski descents planned for the winter, and I wanted to have a good look at the terrain, as well as the current snow cover. Understanding the geography of an area is a big advantage when it comes to skiing it safely as a lot of time can be lost by taking a wrong turn. As well as that it was a pleasant way to spend an afternoon, and it is always surprising to find an apparent wilderness with few signs of civilisation only an hour's walk from an overdeveloped ski area.

Monday, 5 December 2011


After the last post on the late arrival of the snow this year, anyone planning to ski in Europe this winter will be glad to know that snow has been falling across the Alps (as well as the UK) over the weekend, and quite a few resorts have now opened. I have heard it is snowing in Chamonix and Les 2 Alpes, the Tignes webcams are showing white where there was only green a week ago, here in Andorra we have had a little snow overnight in parts of the country - up to 10cm, and the Spanish television is reporting good snow conditions in the Sierra Nevada (the Spanish one not the US one).

The weather patterns still look quite unsettled, so we may well see more snow before the end of the week. So there is a lot less reason for doom and gloom than just a few days ago.

Incidentally, this BBC Weather video does a good job of explaining why this autumn has been particularly warm and dry, and whilst it is referring to the UK, the same effects have given us a sunny, snowless November in much of the Alps and Pyrenees.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Is the snow coming?

This year the snow in Europe is running late - many resorts have postponed their opening, others have opened with a limited area. Ski races have been cancelled including World Cup races, and early season ski instructor exams have been cancelled as well. There is a lot of pessimism around some resorts, and people reading the snow reports might well be getting worried about the holidays they have booked.

On the other hand, the sun has been shining, and the skiing that is open has been pretty good. I have spent four weeks in Tignes, skiing on the glacier, and the conditions have been great - nearly every day has been sunny and clear, and the pistes have been kept in good condition. There was not a lot of off-piste but it was only November, so it would be unusual if there was.

I would post some photos, but I managed to lose my phone which they were stored in. Note to self - zip up all pockets before skiing. :-(

People tend to forget that every winter is different, that some begin early and others late. Good early snow early on does not guarantee a good winter any more than a late start means a bad one. It is still a few weeks before the season really kicks off with the Christmas holidays, so there is still time for it to snow. Here in Andorra only a couple of resorts have managed to open at all so far, so we are all waiting for the snow to come, but it is still a nice time of the year to be here, meeting old friends and new faces in the resort.