Europe 23/24

skiing slightly off the groomed runs to get some soft snow/powder, bumps, etc realistic or would this send me into the unknown avalanche danger zone?
James and I do this a lot. You need to be aware the day's avy rating plus observe your surroundings. But James and I have both spoken to Val d'Isere guides recently and there is very little good powder right now. Throw in the factor of Zermatt's off piste being very limited due to coverage issues and I'd say the Deacons will be the more enjoyable ski for you most of the time. I'd even consider bringing the Deacons and Gotamas and leaving the Senders home. The Gotamas are not in any way a poor off piste/soft snow ski.
 
James and I do this a lot. You need to be aware the day's avy rating plus observe your surroundings. But James and I have both spoken to Val d'Isere guides recently and there is very little good powder right now. Throw in the factor of Zermatt's off piste being very limited due to coverage issues and I'd say the Deacons will be the more enjoyable ski for you most of the time. I'd even consider bringing the Deacons and Gotamas and leaving the Senders home. The Gotamas are not in any way a poor off piste/soft snow ski.
The guide company shares your concerns regarding snow conditions. I also agree the Gotamas are a decent off piste ski. I bought them as my Mt Tremblant all mountain skis to handle the bumps and eastern glades. However they can also hold an edge on eastern ice. I am going to take your suggestion and go with the Gottamas and Deacons. If there is indeed some deep untracked off piste, I can rent something for the touring day.
 
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1pm Friday 26 January 2024 – Weak front approaching the northern Alps

It’s been a mostly sunny morning in the Alps, but thickening cloud will bring some mostly light precipitation to some northern regions later in the day. The south will stay mostly fine, however,and it will continue to feel mild everywhere.

Cloudy skies above the valley in St Johann in Tirol, Austria – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 26 January 2024

Cloud thickening across the northern Austrian Alps, where some rain or snow is expected later today.


This latest front will bring no more than a dusting of snow above 2000m this evening in the northern French Alps, but 5-10cm in the northern Swiss and Austrian Alps, and as much as 15cm in places.The rain/snow limit will start close to or above 2000m but will fall to 1600-1800m in the Swiss Alps overnight, and as low as 1200m in the northern Austrian Alps.

Fine weather will return everywhere on Saturday, and it should remain sunny and increasingly warm all next week.

The recent mild weather is beginning to take its toll on snow conditions at lower altitudes across the Alps, with an increasingly spring-like feel in many places, especially on lower south-facing slopes.
 
It looks like I'm not going to get any fresh snow on this trip: continued high and dry for the foreseeable future.



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11.30am Sunday 28 January 2024 – Spring-like weather in the Alps, especially in the west

It’s another gloriously sunny day just about everywhere across the Alps today, with just a little bit of low cloud stuck in some of the lower valleys, mostly close to the northern foothills. It will also feel quite warm in the sunshine, especially in the western Alps where freezing levels will reach 3300m or more.

Blue skies over the snow-covered pistes of Val d’Isère, France, with view of skiers and chairlift – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 28 January 2024

Perfectly sunny across virtually the entire Alps today. This is Val d’Isère

High pressure is indeed firmly in control of the weather in the Alps, meaning lots of dry and fine weather over the next few days. The location of the high, centred to the east of the Alps, is also dragging up a very mild southerly airflow.

Snow conditions will be quasi-spring like in many parts today, despite the relatively low sun angle, with some afternoon slush expected on lower slopes, especially on south-facing ones in the western Alps (where it is warmest).

The absence of snow at low altitudes is also becoming increasingly noticeable, with many lower southern and western regions looking more like late March than late January.
 
I flew back to NJ yesterday, crashed from 6 pm to 4 am ET, and feel fine! If I'm not mistaken, Tony and Liz are the last FTOers still in the old country right now and Fraser's look ahead to potential precip a week from now unfortunately won't be of help to them.

@jnelly, @Skieric, and @ChrisC: it'd be great to hear some feedback about your recent visits. Obviously, we all got skunked as far as new snow but all the same, we're curious to hear how you fared.



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Friday 2 February 2024 - Return to winter within sight?

The weather in the Alps has been far too warm in recent days. Yesterday, a weak front delivered a few centimetres of snow to some higher parts of the northern Alps, mostly in Austria, but it has now been some time since there has been any significant widespread snowfall.

Plenty of snow on the upper half of the mountain in Engelberg, Switzerland, but very little snow lower down – Weather to ski – Today in the Alps, 2 February 2024

Engelberg sums up the situation in the Alps quite nicely right now with plenty of snow on the upper half of the mountain but precious little lower down

Indeed, much of this week has been positively spring-like, with freezing levels above 3000m at times and maximum temperatures reaching the high teens in some of the lower valleys.

Snow depths remain healthy at higher altitudes across the northern Alps, including in the high French resorts (e.g. Val d’Isère, La Plagne, Val Thorens), the higher areas of many Swiss resorts (e.g. Verbier, Engelberg, Davos, Laax) and the higher Austrian resorts (e.g. Arlberg, Ischgl, Obergurgl, Obertauern).

Lower down, however, natural snow is much more modest or non-existent right across the Alps, including at resort level in the likes of Morzine, Gstaad, Grindelwald and Zell am See. The lower slopes of many southern Alpine resorts are also patchy.

In short, there is still plenty of piste-skiing on offer right across the Alps, but the quality is variable. Above 2000m or so the snow is often quite reasonable but lower down it has either been icy or in some cases slushy, especially on slopes exposed to the sun.

Looking further ahead, although it will be very mild again over the next few days, the various weather models are fairly consistent in forecasting the introduction of some notably colder and snowier weather just in time for half term. It’s a long way off, but fingers crossed...
 
I am on the plane and heading back to Canada. My first trip to the Alps was fun, but a little disappointing with regards to conditions. I think Zermatt had similar conditions to what everyone experienced in other locations.
On the plus side: Amazing lift network with Trams, Gondola's, bubble chairs and trains everywhere. Very modern. Amazing scenery, lots of long groomers. Natural snow base appears to be about 3 feet in most areas. Appears to have lots of amazing off piste terrain on both the Zermatt and Cervinia sides if good conditions.
Negatives: Wind blasted off piste with virtually no where wind protected. Upper elevations were wind packed coral. Lower elevations did have a melt freeze. Very few black runs, almost not moguls, off piste was unskiable due to coral appearing wind blasted snow and lack of skier traffic on the off piste. It was a great experience, but I am not rushing back there.
 

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My first trip to the Alps was fun, but a little disappointing with regards to conditions.
Yes, I'll quote our friend @Weathertoski from his oft-cited Snow Quality Equation primer.

Nothing shapes your impression of a ski area quite like the conditions you encounter on the slopes. Rightly or wrongly, the quality of the snow (never mind the state of the weather) can make or break your holiday, particularly if it is your first time in a resort.
 
Watching this thread and the forecast closely. We are going to hopefully head to Europe the last week of February. No flights or lodging booked. The plan is to make a decision a few days prior. If there is no cool down and no new snow between now and then we will probably give up on any hope of off piste and head to the Dolomites for some cruising wine and pasta. If the Dolomites aren’t looking too great either we will probably just head west and go to Snowbird or something. We decided to stay flexible this year and assume we will pay 2x in airfare but seems like a worthy splurge. We are based in NYC.
 
Nothing shapes your impression of a ski area quite like the conditions you encounter on the slopes. Rightly or wrongly, the quality of the snow (never mind the state of the weather) can make or break your holiday, particularly if it is your first time in a resort.
I try diligently to counteract this trend by researching realistic expectations and thus hopefully know whether I’m getting an above or below average experience.

But I will say that first impressions for an American skier in the Alps are very likely to stick.

Liz first time in the Alps in 2001 was bad (rain low and bad vis high) so she swore off the Alps until we went to Zermatt in 2014 for a stellar week. But we signed up for that a month ahead based on Fraser’s advice that Zermatt had a good snowpack. Zermatt normally does NOT have a good snowpack in January; if you must book far in advance it should be for March or April.

I believe sbooker is still in the Alps.

As for us, it will be difficult to go through pics and get TRs posted before we fly home Sunday. We had some time in Courmayeur but it was end of the month which consumes 5 hours for the progress report update bestsnow.net/seas24.htm. But now we’re on the Tseeb part of the trip: ski 28K today, drive 3 hours for a one night stand, ski tomorrow, then drive to Geneva and fly home the next day. Then I’m a zombie after a French or Italian dinner; first world problems!

But for sbooker’s benefit we have skied the past two days in Aosta. From Val d’Isere I can say that off piste needs to be at least 2,400 meters, north facing and not wind hammered. Courmayeur has minimal within bounds that high and La Rosiere/La Thuile very little.

The warm weather actually enhanced Rosiere’s south exposure. We deliberately didn’t go there until 1:15, most pistes had softened and the off piste on 2800 meter Mont Valaison had excellent corn at 2:30, similar to Tignes’ Aiguille Percee on Monday.

Pistes have winter snow if at least partially north exposure and good grooming above about 2,100 meters. La Thuile has much more north exposure than Courmayeur but Courmayeur grooming is better. Some La Thuile groomers had lots of loose chunks/golf balls. But overall La Thuile is much bigger and varied, especially if you can time the right hours in Rosiere on a sunny day.

We downloaded La Thuile at 4:30 today to avoid the late afternoon scraped pistes. In our defense we had skied 28,300 vertical. We downloaded Val d’Isere a couple of times too due to the scraped snow on La Daille Saturday. Overall Val d’Isere has lots of pistes in great shape with its altitude an exposure but the limited number of pistes feeding the base areas get scraped down.
 
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ChrisC takes my flexibility advice better than I do. He was at Val d’Isere the same time we were, but as trip organizer for a bunch of high maintenance friends. He was planning to stay on for over a week afterwards. He saw the weather forecasts, came by himself a week early and hired guides for 3 days of powder and technical descents. Then he went home when James did, so not bothering with current conditions.
 
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Zermatt normally does NOT have a good snowpack in January;
The snowpack was not particularly deep, however that was not the limiting factor for the conditions. Apparently winds the week before were up to 100 km/h. That turned the high alpine off piste into a rutted up hard surface. If it hadnt been for that windstorm, off piste options would have been much better.
 
I believe sbooker is still in the Alps
I’ve been in Lyon and Annecy doing tourist things. Lyon is a great city. And Annecy is cute.
We arrived in Aosta late yesterday and will go check out Monterosa today. I have low expectations. One of the good things about being Australian is you’re happy just to have something to slide on. I can almost guarantee the pasta lunch will be nice though!
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We probably crossed paths with sbooker in the Mont Blanc tunnel going the opposite way yesterday. There was a half hour wait both ways around 5:30pm.

We were in Annecy a couple of days Feb. 2018 when I was sick. This year Dijon was the non ski diversion: Foodie and wine nirvana.

Interesting comment from skieric. Fraser strongly discouraged us from Zermatt when we were nearby in the Upper Rhône two weeks ago before recent storms and wind.

Val d’Isere off piste had lots of wind hammering too. But not everywhere. Guides could avoid it and I found some nice lines by observation combined with knowledge from the 2018 trip.

ChrisC’s reports will no doubt show much better than mine with fresh snow Jan. 19-21. EMSC should pay close attention to ChrisC’s TRs as he is the same level of skier and would appreciate guided big mountain lines in the Alps. I was never at their level and at age 71 I’m dialing down the more strenuous and exposed lines in the interest of avoiding Lonnie’s fate last season.
 
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Took a wrong turn so decided to go the Courmayeur.
Spring slush at 9.30am!
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There’s this impressive hill in the background.
 
I was never at their level and at age 71 I’m dialing down the more strenuous and exposed lines in the interest of avoiding Lonnie’s fate last season.
Tony's endurance is impressive. He'll ski every day to the final bell -- something that I usually can't manage even though I'm 12 years younger -- and then eat a multi-course dinner!

Overall Val d’Isere has lots of pistes in great shape with its altitude an exposure but the limited number of pistes feeding the base areas get scraped down.
Despite vociferous protests from me (keeping in mind last year's scratchfest to Villeneuve at Serre Chevalier), on Day 1 at Val d'Isere he insisted that we ski the valley run to La Daille, which was not a crowd pleaser.
 
Annecy is cute.
On my way back to Geneva on Wednesday, I took the scenic route along Lake d'Annecy instead of paying €25 in tolls on the autoroute.
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I stopped in both directions at this Lidl near the lake for provisions:
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Growing up near New York State's Finger Lakes, Annecy felt familiar. I strolled around town for an hour, including those bridges where you were with your wife.
 
Day 1 at Val d'Isere he insisted that we ski the valley run to La Daille, which was not a crowd pleaser.
I knew the runs going into Val d'Isere center were steeper and surely more severely scraped. La Daille's runs are intermediate and of course in April 2018 the snow was soft or slushy and we never gave it a thought then. But I was wrong about that this time. Even the blues going into congested base areas got scraped severely, which included the Fresse run into Val Claret.
He'll ski every day to the final bell -- something that I usually can't manage even though I'm 12 years younger
I'm not the one who skis upon arrival day in Europe after an overnight flight. James should ski with tseeb sometime to inspire a more ambitious retirement.

I've been bitching about age on this trip because the first part of it I was exhausted much of the time. Grimentz was sunny with good snow but I was slogging all day. Even day 4 at Verbier I was taking excessive "suck wind" breaks without the excuse of Mammoth/Snowbird altitude. There are some other possible reasons for this.
1) Jet lag; I did not sleep as much on the plane as I usually do.
2) We were sleeping at quite low altitude in Sierre.
3) We were commuting an hour each way to all 4 ski areas. Sbooker is younger and doesn't think this is important.
4) I had a mild cold; not an excuse because I had a worse one in the Arlberg in 2013 and I was skiing off piste with guides for 3 days of that week.

By Val d'Isere I was doing better, no doubt helped by sleeping in the resort at 1850 meters. I'm pleased that the last leg of the trip was if not at pre-pandemic level at least no worse than last season. We were commuting but I still skied 73,500 vertical in three days, and the last day at Verbier was the only one of the trip as much as half off piste aside from the short but hair raising powder day at Lauchernalp.

Evening exhaustion is the main reason I’m flying home today with 6 ski days on this trip not yet posted with TRs.
 
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Hey gang. I know Ill take some for this, but sadly can’t add to anything as I decided to bail last minute, but hear me out…
Leading into this I was not feeling super hot to begin with but that wasn’t a total deal breaker but coupled with the following I bounced.
The vast majority of my plan was predicated on smaller and by default lower elevation locals joints with alpine and treelined with the proverbial high elevation bailout to the west and east of my centered location. After assessing the weather reports, webcam with lots of green grass, very low potential for snow, forecasted ambient and freezing levels for locations I was going to be concentrating on, it was apparent that the bailouts would be basically 100% of the trip (Ischgl being the most likely candidate) which is exactly 180° opposite my scene, priority and what I had envisioned. So it was choosing mashed potatoes all week or what @Skieric highlights.“Wind blasted off piste with virtually no where wind protected. Upper elevations were wind packed coral. Lower elevations did have a melt freeze…off piste was unskiable” <—-this major con

Am I terribly disappointed? Nope. I had plenty of mountains to knock down with my business and some actual down-time w/o going 100 mph, so no regrets. Glad to see everyone had a good week and safe journeys.
 
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