I’ve been traveling through the Alps the last weeks and checked out both the northern, western and southern Alps. And although a lot of people are complaining about the winter because it’s too warm with not much snow, I can assure you that the snow cover in the Alps is pretty good. It’s thinner than normal in the northern Alps, but it’s just great in the southern Alps. You’ll find a snow cover that’s around two to six (!) meters thick at 2000 meters altitude. And yeah, half a meter, one and a half meter of snow in the northern Alps is just nothing compared to this huge snowpack. A short overview of the average snow depths at 2000 meters and the snow lines below:
Northern Alps east: 40-110 cm, snowline around 600-1100 meters
Northern Alps central: 45-120 cm, snowline around 500-1000 meters
Northern Alps west: 65-130 cm, snowline around 1000 meters
Western Alps north: 90-150 cm, snowline around 1000 meters
Western Alps central: 80-180 cm, snowline around 800-1300 meters
French southern Alps: 110-290 cm, snowline around 900-1200 meters
Southern Alps west: 160-350 cm, snowline around 600 meters
Southern Alps central: 70-350 cm, snowline around 400-1000 meters
The numbers above say it all. You’ll have to go south for huge pillows. We were riding with our guide Francois Lombard last week in the forest of the southern Alps. He told us that we were gonna hit some nice three to four meter cliffs. Once we reached the cliffs the drop was only a meter high. The result of a deep winter. We changed our plans and started hucking stuff that’s normally way too high.
In the meanwhile, we had to deal with PowderAlert #16 the last 48 hours. Around 30-60 centimeters of freshies came down in the western and southern Alps. The northern Alps we’re suffering form a Föhn storm again. You have to in the southwestern and southern regions of the Alps till Thursday for cold and fluffy powder. The Alps are facing a high pressure area. The sun will come out, there’s lot of powder and it’s almost time for the nicer lines. And after that….
You'll find the best snow till Thursday in:
You’ll find 30-60 centimeters of freshies here. The regions south and west of the Isère will get around 20-50 centimeters, which will improve the conditions in resorts as La Grave. And it already was really good over there. Check out the video below of some La Grave locals (such as Joe Vallone) that we met this weekend.
I’m not complaining about this winter. My advice to every free rider is to go to the southern Alps when there are new freshies. You just have to experience these huge amounts of snow. And maybe bring your pillow skills to a higher level. I won’t forget winter 13-14 very fast. And it’s only February.
Check out the weather map above. You’ll see that low pressure area Tini is ready to rumble. It’s the start of PowderAlert #17. The jestream will turn west again and the western Alps are going to be hit. The first front will arrive in the northwestern Alps on Thursday. The front is coming in from the west northwest between the line Grenoble-Arlberg. The snow line will drop from 1200 to 800 meters (and lower) and you can expect 10 to 40 centimeters of freshies. The most snow will fall in the western Alps north, where you can expect around 50 centimeters till Friday. But the temperatures will rise after that.
The Alps have to deal with warmer air on Saturday. The jet stream is too far west, causing the freezing level to rise and the wind from the south will be pretty strong. Saturday will be a dangerous day. Strong winds and the rise of temperatures will cause the avalanche danger to rise in the higher alpine. It will get colder in the night from Saturday to Sunday. It will start snowing again from the west and this front seems to be pretty active. Freshies on Thursday and Friday. High temperatures and Föhn on Saturday and Sunday and freshies on Sunday.
More details tomorrow, but this could be a good plan: Powder in the southern Alps till Thursday. Friday powder west of the Mt. Blanc or in the Arlberg. Larch trees in the Piemonte on Saturday and more snow on Sunday. More details tomorrow!