Where to find the best early/late season snow
BY - Tim Latimer, 22 August 2019, ARTICLES
BY - Tim Latimer, 22 August 2019, ARTICLES
Though the ski season may seem months away, we can’t help but get excited about the season ahead. For those of you who are desperately seeking snow or simply cant wait there are many advantages of heading the mountains before the Christmas and New Year rush. Crowd free slopes, Christmas festivities and perfectly groomed pistes are just a few reasons, so get your turns in before any one else in our top resorts for early season skiing.
Boasting some of the highest skiing in Europe, Zermatt is a sure bet for early season skiing, with snow sure slopes from the end of November to the end of April. Much of the ski area is located above 2500m meaning that the snow tends to last longer in the cooler conditions. Head up to the highest peaks on the Klein Matterhorn lift and you will be greeted with vistas of the iconic Matterhorn and surrounding peaks at 3883m before you glide back down. Or why not ski to neighbouring Cervinia on the opposite side of the mountain for a different view.
If you wish, you can ski here all year round thanks to the Theodul glacier offering 21km of groomed pistes. At this level the snow never disappears meaning you can enjoy this lively buzzing resort at any time of the year.
Part of the fantastic Espace Killy ski area encompassing Val d’Isere and the neighbouring resort of Tignes, this alpine playground is one of the world’s top ski areas. It was recently awarded the title of ‘European Resort of the Year’ and ‘Ski Resort of the Year’ in the World Snow Awards and rightly so! With a huge ski area at your feet there is a high altitude and varied terrain to explore.
Getting around the 300km of pistes is a breeze too with a modern and efficient lift system. The redevelopment of the Solaise Express chairlift means you can ascend in just seven minutes. The chairlift even has wifi and heated seats for ultimate comfort.
If there’s snow in the alps you are likely to find it here. With an excellent record for snow, Val d’Isere benefits from a long season and is snow sure from early December to early May due to its high altitude, north facing slopes and glacier skiing on the Pisaillas in Tignes (which is also open during the summer months).
As the festive season approaches in December, Val d’Isere turns into a winter wonderland, the village atmosphere is magical and what better way to end the day than with a cup of vin chaud as you gaze at the twinkling lights. Picture perfect!
A small and exclusive village with a BIG reputation for snow, the ski resort of Lech am Arlberg in Austria claims some of the snowiest conditions in the Alps, owing to its unique microclimate. It receives on average 10.6 metres of snow each winter, more than its neighbour St.Anton and double that of many of its French Rivals, making it a very reliable choice for early birds.
Sharing its ski area with the higher resort of Zurs, pistes extend up to 2450m or if you feel like going further afield you can easily reach St.Anton in the next valley…simply hop on the Flexenbahn lift. Newly constructed, you can now reach anywhere in the Arlbeg area on skis, making it one of top 5 biggest ski resorts in the world.
If you like your winter sports a tad more adventurous, then why not try heli-skiing? Lech is the only resort in Austria to allow the sport.
Undoubtedly one of the most glamorous resorts in the Alps, you will find a fine selection of luxury ski chalets and five star hotels dotted around Lech, and its enchanting alpine village atmosphere is hard to beat.
With its position high in the 3 valleys, Courchevel 1850 has one of the best records for early season snow in the ski area. The slopes in the Courchevel Valley reach up to 2739m and there are many north facing options, meaning that the snow tends to stick around. Groomed to perfection each night, there is an abundance of terrain here too, whether you choose to gently cruise down a blue or prefer steeper slopes to put your technique to the test.
The ski season runs from mid December to Mid April and as part of the Three Valleys, the largest linked ski area in the world, you will have access to a staggering 600km of pistes and a sleek and efficient lift system. The 3 Valleys ski area extends to an altitude of 3420m with a huge amount of skiing to be found above 2300m. The range on offer means that there is always good snow somewhere.
Courchevel 1850 has a well-respected international reputation for being a highly exclusive and glamorous resort with an abundance of luxury ski-in/ski-out chalets, Michelin-starred restaurants and designer boutiques to match. It is the ultimate glamourous alpine paradise.
This charming mountain village officially has an altitude of ‘1450m’ at resort level, and whilst you might be thinking this is fairly low, don’t rule it out. In fact, the resort extends up the west-facing slope towards the Rond-Point up at around 1700m.
But that’s not all. There are several reasons why Meribel offers a fantastic choice for early season skiing. Unlike many other resorts you can happily cruise around the slopes above 2000m all day as there is a huge variety of varied and good quality terrain to suite all levels up here. It’s also easy to drop in to the Val Thorens valley which has an abundance of pistes above 2300m. Heaven.
With 150km of largely blue and red runs in the Meribel valley alone, it is an intermediates paradise. And being in the centre of the Three Valleys it puts you in the perfect position to explore a staggering 600km of pistes.
Snow making here is second to none too as the area has made a huge commitment to keeping as many runs open as possible throughout the season when the new snowfall is in short supply, meaning that snow is as guaranteed as it can be.
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