I rely heavily on Chamonix Meteo for the local weather report. In general the report is accurate but mountain weather can be fickle and last night was a good example. The forecast was for a minor fall of snow. That coupled with the prospect of some visibility and the recent snowfall led me to believe that opening day at Les Contamines was to be today’s destination. For those of you who haven’t skied Les Contamines it is well worth a visit. Easy piste skiing, great offpiste and touring. Anyway the best laid plans….
An early rise to walk the dogs found the best part of 25 cms on the car and poor visibility. That combined with a 40 minute drive to LC brought a change of plan and back for first lift at Les Houches which I knew,at least,would be open. (You will be thinking it is all we ski.)Yet again Les Houches delivered. A combination of boot top powder off piste and 4 inches of powder on perfectly groomed pistes. No stopping for photos and finished for lunch. Still a lack of lifts open
Friends from Argentiere reported powder on piste at Grand Montets but no report as yet on conditions in Pendant Bowl. The liason chair was closed but I am sure it was well skied today.
I have been working in Megeve the last 3 days and the snow cover is amazing if you can afford a coffee. Clients were staying in the Four Seasons Hotel,brand new, opulent, Ski in/out and I am sure pretty expensive.
Penny drove through Courmayeur on Friday and it had a great cover.
Anyone arriving for Xmas week has nailed it for a change.
Its true! It’s been snowing pretty much constantly for days. The temperature has varied with a little rain at lower altitudes but in the main it has snowed. I can’t tell you what the conditions are at higher altitudes as the lifts haven’t been running much above mid stations. Although Compagnie de Mont Blanc have announced early opening dates for areas they have been pretty miserly in the lifts they have opened.
What I can say is that this is the best base of snow we have had since 2012 and augers well for Xmas skiers and the season in general. Hopefully the majority of lifts will open on 17 December.
We decided to ski at GM this aftrnnon as Chamonix Météo promised 20% sunshine today/this afternoon. The sunshine didn’t materialise but visibility wasn’t too bad Only two chairs open from Lognan and from what I could see there has been a lot of wind higher up. The ridges are wind scoured and be careful as no doubt the avalanche risk will be extremely high if Thursday’s storm materialises. The snow was great but pretty tracked out with only two lifts open. Limited to side piste but great. Home run in good/great condition, slopes quiet and a fun day
LES HOUCHES 08/12/2017
SNOW 25 CMS FRESH
We arrived at Prarion at 0815 to find we had been beaten to be first in line. The lifts were open on time and we had a couple of top to bottom runs with the great powder on Table d’Orientation followed by groomed Pistes to the bottom. Two more runs from the top skiing the glade behind the top of Prarion then Mur des Épines which although holding powder still needs some snow depth. The soft snow was skied out by then so home for 11. A great (short) morning. Looks like some serious snow in the next few days with the avalanche risk increasing.
Early season can be exasperating. The last three years have brought substantial snow falls early in November followed by a settled spell of warm weather all but obliterating the snow base. Chamonix cannot boast that it has provided great Xmas conditions for skiers since 2012. Hopefully things may change this year. After an exceedingly dry summer and autumn, November brought some icy weather and the Northern Alps have enjoyed some early season snowfall accompanied by freezing temperatures. Don’t get me wrong the snow depth is not significant and we are in need of a storm or two.
Penny and I managed to travel through to Verbier for Opening Day on 11th November. After parking at Le Chable, in the valley floor, we encountered a 45 minute queue to validate our tickets. Although the Le Chable option didnt serve us well on this occasion it generally provides free parking and quick access to the slopes. The skiing was good on the half dozen pistes that were open but heavily reliant on man made snow. It was sunny, cold and nice to be on snow again. It is unfortunate that on many occasions that we go to Verbier it is because of poor condition in this valley only to find things not much better in the Valais.
We waited till the end of November to venture out again. Ziggy, our “new dog”, had never been out touring so we drove across to Combloux for a first attempt. We were hoping that although the snow depth was limited the snow had fallen on pasture and this would make for good skiing. We parked at Haut Combloux and Ziggy enjoyed the skin up towards Les Salles. The ski down didnt go just as planned with Ziggy losing out to one of my edges and cutting her leg. Time to go home. Snow conditions at that time were pretty average with less snowfall than the Chamonix Valley.
Les Houches announced its opening for the Weekend of 2nd December limited to the 2 lifts and stopping at the top of the Maison Neuve Chair. We headed up Saturday lunchtime and then after a quick skin to the top of Prarion we traversed to the summer pasture at La Charme. Some nice soft snow at first leading on to minimal depth on frozen earth. Back to the top and home.
PS the pistes were pretty poor, hard and icy at the bottom.
On Sunday, with the sun shining, we toured to the Bellevue side and to our delight were rewarded with some great soft snow to the side of the Grand Bois Piste without another skier in sight. . A good day and delighted to have avoided the crowds (and rocks) at Grand Montets.
As I write this the forecast is showing the first storm of the winter with perhaps over a metre of snow due. Grand Montets is open from 9th December and the rest of the areas are open from the tenth. I understand that Megeve. St Gervais and Les Contamines will open for the weekend but are delaying full time opening till 17th December.