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Worldwide Mountain & Snow Sports Discussion 2016/17


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It's been an absolute incredible day in this part of the Alps @gareth moo. A real treat for a weather loving, mountain loving addict like me!! It's now 24 hours since my last post and this evening (Mo

Temp down to -19c last night in the nearby valley town of Tamsweg. Currently -10c on the mountain. Picture looking SSW with the Ankogel Group in the background. The runs you see are just one side of t

Great reading all these plans and photos, thank you all. I 'hope' to do my usual in mid Jan after the Lauberhorn for maybe 6-7 days gentle skiing. Not bad at 78 if I manage it!

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An interesting article in the French press today, discussing the impact of climate change and the year-round hard work piste service teams are now putting into keeping resorts skiable. Extracts:

In ski resorts, snow gardeners face the climatic challenge
Offering skiing with less snow ... this is the equation solved by the heroes of this winter with the drought and the record warmth....
At 2,000m altitude, in La Plagne, this 30th of January, Météo France measures a thickness of 50 cm, the lowest value ever recorded.
This (was an) unprecedented season..... with no significant precipitation between November and January...... yet 80% of the runs were open.
Before the 1990s, there were seven to eleven snowy episodes of more than 40 cm (of snowfall) compared to three to five in a winter today.

At the time, the tracks were cut like a clod of butter (but) they were less worn by the passage of skiers. Today, it is necessary to manage the scarcity of a raw material that wears out faster because of a higher instantaneous attendance (of skiers), enhanced by the (increased) flow of the ski lifts.

Today, in a ski resort, the role of the piste service teams takes on a vital importance. It was absolutely necessary that the (underlying ground) surface changed to keep more snow and to enable skiing on a smaller thickness. If, in the alpine pastures it is necessary to reprofile the ground, we remove the stones, sometimes removing the pebbles one by one with a rake or with small mechanical shovels.... to get a ground without rough edges. We also increased pastures with cattle to mow (keep the grass short). Today, on a well prepared and (cattle) grazed trail, one can open a station with 10 cm of cultured snow and 10 and 15 cm of natural snow ".

Courchevel.thumb.jpg.9a6d171edcc75cb0190fefe277958b28.jpg

Above, the big job of the piste team in Courchevel last December before the ski world cup.

Full article in French: http://www.ledauphine.com/loisirs/2017/02/20/gestionnaires-de-l-or-blanc

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100% spring conditions in Alpe d'Huez this week. Poor snow base has bare patches showing even at 2000m. Without significant natural snowfall within the next few weeks, there is little chance of them making it to what is a late Easter.

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14 hours ago, gareth moo said:

100% spring conditions in Alpe d'Huez this week. Poor snow base has bare patches showing even at 2000m. Without significant natural snowfall within the next few weeks, there is little chance of them making it to what is a late Easter.

An article in the French press yesterday confirms the 'snow drought' problem many French ski resorts have suffered from this season. Although the article does suggest that some southern resorts - e.g. Val Cenis & Val d'Isere close to the Italian border - have fared better.

This winter is likely to be one of the driest in the last twenty years. The weather channel has just analyzed the first three months of the season and goes back to 1988-1989 to find a winter so little snow. A trend confirmed by the reports of snow levels reported by the stations. In Savoie, only the Maurienne exceeds the 2.50 m at the top of the slopes, with 2.70 m in Valfréjus and 2.60 m in Bonneval.
http:// http://www.ledauphine.com/savoie/2017/02/21/l-hiver-le-moins-enneige-depuis-1988-1989

Thankfully (and barring any last minute changes from current model output) next week should see some significant snowfall for the Alps as a series of weather fronts move in from the NW, and this time the French Alps joining in. The only issue might be altitude, with freezing level uncomfortably high.
I suspect this weekends blog from @J10 will make for interesting reading.

GFS Tues 28th Feb: 58ae9db4861f2_GFS0z23FebPrecipforTueFeb28.thumb.png.91b47e5b4710da2883e908113e69255e.png58aea1aeee4ff_AlpPrecip28Feb.thumb.png.df193a6c06805548753738681d97ca08.png58aea1b3744c2_AlpFreezingLevel28Feb.thumb.png.83445b973da3a104b1e8f1e1c1ca7050.png

Current forecasts suggest Alpe d'Huez could receive over 40 cms: 58aea1b84a786_AlpedHuez.thumb.jpg.599f8984711b38832b27485359ef69cd.jpg

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A straggling cold front from Storm Doris brings a range of snowfall for the Alps today before fizzling out later. Looking at a cross-section of resorts, forecasts show only a dusting likely for many French resorts, with Swiss and Austrian resorts faring better:


Alpe d'Huex 3cms
Val d'Isere 2cms
Chamonix 13cms
Wengen 9cms
Grindelwald 11cms
Ischgl 14cms
Kitzbuhel 13cms
Katschberg 12cms

Fax chart shows cold front 58afdd76a09b8_FaxChartFri24Feb.thumb.jpg.ab3268b52d391012073fb4784c981344.jpg Arpege accum 58afdda165ca9_ArpegeSnowAccumFri24Feb.thumb.png.e741a2e36bd988400d15aa1be8899ace.png

Certainly looks snowy in Kitzbuhel this morning: 58afdfa782194_KitzbuhelFri24Feb.thumb.jpg.d6db07393fd7db6772631886b2b0d31a.jpg

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On 20/02/2017 at 21:28, Blessed Weather said:

An interesting article in the French press today, discussing the impact of climate change and the year-round hard work piste service teams are now putting into keeping resorts skiable. Extracts:

In ski resorts, snow gardeners face the climatic challenge
Offering skiing with less snow ... this is the equation solved by the heroes of this winter with the drought and the record warmth....
At 2,000m altitude, in La Plagne, this 30th of January, Météo France measures a thickness of 50 cm, the lowest value ever recorded.
This (was an) unprecedented season..... with no significant precipitation between November and January...... yet 80% of the runs were open.
Before the 1990s, there were seven to eleven snowy episodes of more than 40 cm (of snowfall) compared to three to five in a winter today.

At the time, the tracks were cut like a clod of butter (but) they were less worn by the passage of skiers. Today, it is necessary to manage the scarcity of a raw material that wears out faster because of a higher instantaneous attendance (of skiers), enhanced by the (increased) flow of the ski lifts.

Today, in a ski resort, the role of the piste service teams takes on a vital importance. It was absolutely necessary that the (underlying ground) surface changed to keep more snow and to enable skiing on a smaller thickness. If, in the alpine pastures it is necessary to reprofile the ground, we remove the stones, sometimes removing the pebbles one by one with a rake or with small mechanical shovels.... to get a ground without rough edges. We also increased pastures with cattle to mow (keep the grass short). Today, on a well prepared and (cattle) grazed trail, one can open a station with 10 cm of cultured snow and 10 and 15 cm of natural snow ".

Courchevel.thumb.jpg.9a6d171edcc75cb0190fefe277958b28.jpg

Above, the big job of the piste team in Courchevel last December before the ski world cup.

Full article in French: http://www.ledauphine.com/loisirs/2017/02/20/gestionnaires-de-l-or-blanc

Great find there Malcolm. This really shows the challenges facing Alpine ski resorts. More especially it would seem in Western areas, where temperatures seem to be routinely much milder than Eastern Austria in particular. While this trend I think has always been there to an extent now it is getting more pronounced.

Edited by J10
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On 11/02/2017 at 18:20, Paul said:

(Snipped)

I'm just contemplating taking a trip somewhere in March, thinking of doing somewhere different to the usual haunts, and only have time for a week so will stick to Europe. Anyone any views in terms of resorts in Spain, or Andorra? Or maybe any hidden gems in Austria or France?

Any further thoughts on a March trip Paul? After you asked the question about "hidden gems" I went on Google and searched the term. Some very interesting results and lots of possibilities right across the Pyrenees and Alps. And funny enough I came across an article in Snow Magazine from last year titled "Hidden Gems | Bonneval-sur-Arc & Val Cenis". http://www.snowmagazine.com/features/1245-hidden-gems/hidden-gems-bonneval-sur-arc-and-val-cenis

I've been going to Val Cenis every year for 16 years (sometimes twice with a summer visit) after a friend-of-a-friend started up a ski company there (MGS Ski), offering an all-in package of accommodation, equipment and lift pass. Few if any Brits there at all to start with. Even today, for the 50 metre walk from ski-hire shop to piste front it's a case of 'dodge the chickens' that run free! And last year a bolognese/cabonara/burger type meal up on the mountain was under 10 euros with a half-litre of excellent Corbiere only 4.50 euros. I'm off on my annual pilgrimage there next Saturday 4th and it's nice to be looking forward to being greeted by the local restaurant and bar owners. Even the owner of the mountain restaurant and her chef greet us and shake hands now we've become 'regulars'! :)

But back to your possible trip - the real reason I ask is that current model output is suggesting a mobile pattern setting up with "all eyes west" for the next two weeks as frequent weather systems bring in (sometimes heavy) precipitation. So it's possible that the Pyrenees and Western Alps see lots of fresh snowfall BUT altitude could be key. Freezing levels bouncing around a bit and often up at around 2,000m. It might not be a hidden gem, but Val Thorens with the village at 2,300m is looking one of the safer bets for an early March trip!

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Hi Malcolm / @Blessed Weather - funny enough I booked this week, and having said I was going to go for a hidden gem in Europe, I did completely the opposite in the end and am back off to Whistler! The Alps felt like a punt snow wise, and although the Pyrenees was favourite for a bit as the snow there at the moment is great, I thought there was a risk of very spring like conditions if milder sw'ly winds took hold later in March. 

Val Cenis does look really nice though, so I'll definitely keep hold of that article as a reminder next time I'm looking!

I'll report back on conditions in Whistler when I go - looks great at the moment, and March is often a very snowy month, so ought it ought to be fun :D 

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Ever tried skiing on sand? Well if you fancy it, head off to the Pyrenees or the Spanish resort of Sierra Nevada now. The Sahara has just covered the snow in sand there! This report in the French press:

Sand of the Sahara covers the snow of the Pyrenees
The holiday makers in the Pyrenees were given a strange spectacle. Some snowy slopes are currently covered with ... sand. And not by any sand, that of the Sahara! These dusts are brought by the wind, explains The Republic of the Pyrenees.
Other mountain images, coming from Spain this time, to the Sierra Nevada in Andalusia, offer the same spectacle. The sky is also yellowed by the clouds of African sand. Nothing dangerous, just open your eyes and admire this unusual landscape. But pay attention to your skis, because the sand - like gravel - can damage the material.

Graphic of the sand storm: 58b1cf9b0143a_SierraNevadasandstormgraphic.thumb.jpg.059e3761aa41bfa1a92fe0f3cb985506.jpg Sierra Nevada piste: 58b1cfae39e2c_SierraNevadasandstorm.thumb.jpg.824d98124dd1dd7751b3a1a684c32878.jpg

By a strange coincidence I posted about the Sierra Nevada ski resort the other day. Here's what that same piste looked like then:

58b1cfb85ec64_SierraNevada3.thumb.jpg.fa5b1cbefde73d571f81e483f8f32ba5.jpg

Report in French: http://www.ledauphine.com/france-monde/2017/02/25/du-sable-du-sahara-sur-la-neige-des-pyrenees
 

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At last some snow for the Alps.
Some good falls tomorrow, trouble is FL is high and many places will start with a lot of rain.

Looking seriously bare in resorts now, some Swiss resorts very little in the valleys, also Austrian as well.

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27 minutes ago, Paul said:

Back on the subject of hidden gems, I spotted this at the weekend and thought it would be worth sharing as Vaujany (France) sounds pretty good as a gateway to Alpe d'Huez:

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2017/feb/26/great-little-ski-resorts-vaujany-france-alps

 I have been there a long long time ago, I remember it being ok, I remember skiing Alpe D'Heuz but not going there you have reminded me how and why lol.

I also remember staying in a chalet with amazing food, almost to good with not enough Carbs for skiing.

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20 hours ago, seaside 60 said:

At last some snow for the Alps.
Some good falls tomorrow, trouble is FL is high and many places will start with a lot of rain.

Looking seriously bare in resorts now, some Swiss resorts very little in the valleys, also Austrian as well.

And this morning's radar shows the front now draped across the Alps....

08.00 Tues 28th Feb: 58b539ac7563e_AlpsRadarTues28Feb.thumb.jpg.45d4c406cb52aa0c8cb20d78323e1d12.jpg

Arpege showing 15cms to be expected widely, but some places maybe 30cms: 58b53a04668f3_ArpegeSnowAccumTues28Feb.thumb.png.88ef21cee8626a67be7916d46d6435f8.png

But as you say, freezing level the issue during daylight hours, widely around 2,000m. Turning colder this evening and overnight, so with precipitation forecast to continue into Weds morning, hopefully even lower resorts/pistes will see snow cover. The Netweather Alps charts tell the story - below at 09.00, 15.00 and 21.00 today:

Precip 58b53a1c96b88_AlpsPrecip28Feb09_00.thumb.png.c28ae98d34f484821d92380a8e2ea0ef.png58b53a2620f78_AlpsPrecip28Feb15_00.thumb.png.3e17ef3d836a2374e42a5fcf9e5510b1.png58b53a2fb8ecd_AlpsPrecip28Feb21_00.thumb.png.767ffb96540bdb6d1e4317c60ba20a75.png

FL       58b53a3846601_AlpsFreezingLevel28Feb09_00.thumb.png.01dcd08ab5c67a29eff31eb2c8b9787f.png58b53a3c7f142_AlpsFreezingLevel28Feb15_00.thumb.png.de06b882b512a74376bd20944b0f2dc6.png58b53a413e24a_AlpsFreezingLevel28Feb21_00.thumb.png.2d3b05ba012286065ba55e087c075af6.png

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Well its good to see some small pattern change for the Alps but most resorts will see plenty of rain and little snow at the valleys bottoms.
I booked for the first time this year for around 8 years, based on a late season.
However I am getting my first worried tingles lol...
Keep reading and studying late cold, need that mid march Scandi high and some colder temps.

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Looks like it's turned into a white-out at altitude this afternoon in many parts of the Alps. Here's the webcam grabs of the Bellevarde pistes at Val d'Isere, yesterday and today (2,700m). This afternoons webcam has captured the snow looking as if it's pouring off the roof of the Funival funicular railway station building in torrents!!

58b5abb129a79_ValdIsere27FebBellevarde.thumb.jpg.39a71b10552225e8deef29c0f2bb658e.jpg58b5abbc7a87e_ValdIsere28FebBellevarde.thumb.jpg.4804601fcfaa0706d7f65a02545f38b4.jpg

Not many people braving walking around at Arc 1950 village: 58b5abc9eec4f_Arc195028Feb.thumb.jpg.a7772bfc2897f7cf8debbdbc910240fa.jpg

And evidence of the temperatures now falling nicely. Here's Les Deux Alpes town (1,650m) at 16.00 and again at 17.00. What a difference in one hour!! :)

58b5adae4a7a0_LesDeuxAlpes28Feb16_00.thumb.jpg.940c0073e3794502df9b976858afca59.jpg58b5adb731b4d_LesDeuxAlpes28Feb17_00.thumb.jpg.b415a7fc40813ea8e8991ff08800f6c8.jpg

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2 hours ago, gareth moo said:

Wow! The GFS data on Snow forecast.com has somewhere over 200cm forecast for Zermatt in the next 6 days.

 

 

zermatt.png

Yet in Katschberg (Austria) I only see under 6cm after tonight until sunday and thats at 2200m.

Are you sure thats not dodgy data or forecast for 3500m, as freezing level is around 1900m and not going above -4c.

Ok just had a chance to check the facts.
You have cherry picked 2700m lol, at 1650m you have 3 days rain and around 50cm of snow.

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34 minutes ago, seaside 60 said:

Yet in Katschberg (Austria) I only see under 6cm after tonight until sunday and thats at 2200m.

Are you sure thats not dodgy data or forecast for 3500m, as freezing level is around 1900m and not going above -4c.

Ok just had a chance to check the facts.
You have cherry picked 2700m lol, at 1650m you have 3 days rain and around 50cm of snow.

No cherry picking at all lol. I'm not going there anyway.

Just pointing out to the good folks in here that some areas are going to do very well in the next week.

On the topic of Vaujany, it's a great village that has expanded hugely in the last few years but has kept it's traditional feel. I've been going there for 20+ years and will be back at Easter for a fortnight with both skis and MTB. Outstanding ESF ski school and regular open races (for kids and adults) with coaching if that's your bag.

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10 hours ago, seaside 60 said:

Yet in Katschberg (Austria) I only see under 6cm after tonight until sunday and thats at 2200m.

(snipped)

Some better looking forecasts for Katschberg this morning seaside, although freezing level still the problem at first. The snow-forecast.com chart showing 36 cms at 1,640m this coming Sun/Mon (with most on Monday), but down at base (1,060m) it's rain Sun before turning to 12 cms of snow Mon.

58b68ce26963d_KatschbergForecast01March.thumb.jpg.f2cd1e3ce9d8d39098474df795190803.jpg

I must say I'm puzzled by this morning's snow-forecast charts as they show rain down at base on Saturday, but when you look at the mid and top of mountain forecasts they show NO precipitation at all. Shurely shome mistake!!

Then looking at the forecasts from the Austrian website wetter.at it's noteable that they have most precipitation on Saturday with only a dusting for Monday. Clearly we have a GFS forecast (snow-forecast) versus either ECM or another Austrian met office model used by wetter.at. On the positive side, wetter.at have the temps in Katschberg falling away very nicely next week and not rising above zero from Monday.

Precip 58b68cf5977fd_KatschbergPrecipForecast01Mar.thumb.jpg.90f49592e19238f07b8c68c11cb49978.jpg Temps 58b68d09ac4df_KatschbergTempForecast01Mar.thumb.jpg.60b2642f17f4c895d634427528a63343.jpg

My punt on late March for your trip? High pressure over or just to the west of the UK with a cold flow over eastern Austria, possibly snowy! :)

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35 minutes ago, Blessed Weather said:

 

My punt on late March for your trip? High pressure over or just to the west of the UK with a cold flow over eastern Austria, possibly snowy! :)

Ok young man you have made your prediction and if you are wrong and I will come and find you and my girls will come and whip you into shape until you relent on why they didnt get any snow lol...:yahoo::yahoo:

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12 hours ago, gareth moo said:

Mid station forecast. Yes very high altitude at 2700m. Top of  Glacier Express gondola probably. Top of Klein Matt lift is 3820m though and showing even more!

Interesting debate around which Alps snow forecast is the most accurate. I think someone asked this question a few weeks ago ( it may have been Paul)

As I have previously mentioned my wife is from Zermatt and I've spent a lot of time there. My experience has been that snow forecast.com can be a bit 'optimistic',should we say,with its predicted snow depths. I have found it very good as a guide to the type of weather that may be around but when I have been in Zermatt it is very rarely accurate regarding the amount of snow that will lie on the ground. The locals believe Meto Central, I think it is, is a much more accurate guide.

I just wonder with it being based on the GFS if the numbers quoted are potential amounts of snow that could fall rather than what might lay? Perhaps some of the model experts could inform us on that one. Also as Blessed as mentioned in his post the amounts can vary greatly after each model run.

As regards the 2700m station. It's pretty high up ( you can find the excellent Igloo village at that height) but the Gornergraut railway goes up to just over 3,000m ( you will have seen clips of the hotel, shopping mall, yes shopping mall, and observatory there on the BBC drama the Night Manager).

Those that have been will know it's great skiing from there where you can almost ' touch the Matterhorn'!

As regards the forecast. Well according to my father in law ( so it must be right?!?!) they are expecting significant snow " up the mountain". At village level (1600m) again some decent snow expected but during the day temps are expected to be above freezing so a wintry mix is likely but by late afternoon/ early evening this will be of snow. Likely outcome is snowy nights, some very alpine scenes in a morning before a bit mushy early afternoon and then rinse and repeat!

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