The higher alpine (and in some places the mid-mountain as well) in large regions of the Alps has been transformed into a winter wonderland. Time for the first powder turns of the season! Especially since the weather is quite okay and the powder is freshies. The sun will shine this weekend and a lot of areas open their lifts for the first time. Check out the list of areas below that will open this weekend. Please note: in most cases it doesn't mean that all the lifts will be running.
The resorts below are already open for a couple of days (or longer) and a small group of freeriders already set some tracks there. Don't expect untracked powder next to the slopes and lifts in the resorts below. Also good to know. Diavolezza will close this Friday afternoon, but Corvatsch will open.
Obviously, there are more places that have their lifts up and running, but I just named the resorts that have a really good base.
The weekend of 22-23 november
A lot of resorts open (some of) their lifts this weekend for the first time this winter (or had them closed during the week). You'll find the go-to resorts for this weekend listed below.
Corvatsch(St. Moritz, opening weekend)
Madonna di Campiglio (opening weekend)
Madesimo (opening weekend)
Monte Rosa, Gressoney-La-Trinité (opening weekend)
Montgenevre (opening weekend)
Most important risks
Before you start packing, here are the main risks. You have to be very careful of crevasses when you ride on a glacier. The season has just started and the snow bridges (if any) are still thin. Furthermore, you should go high and 'going high' usually means rocks as substrate. Especially in the areas that don't have much snow you'll soon hit a rock (or two). Painful for yourself but also for your board / skis. Last and not least: avalanches. Frost/hoar is observed and the wind has blown hard the last few days. The weight of just one skier or snowboarder may already be sufficient to trigger an avalanche. Read the daily local avalanche bulletin and customize it to your plans.
Current snow depths
I get more and more questions about current snow depths lately and marketing machines of many ski resorts are running at full speed. But for us freeriders it's not that important what can be found on the slopes, but how the conditions in the off-piste are like. I made below an overview by region of the snow line and the current snow depths including a valuation of the conditions compared with the time of year. Just click on a region name to get more information about resorts, location etc .. --- stands for very poor and +++ very well.
Northern Alps east: --- conditions. Winter is still far away. Föhn and rain here pretty much killed all the snow. Don't go to this region to ride powder right now. The mountains are green and only in Kaprun some hard snow can be found above 2500m.
Northern Alps central: -- to + conditions. The conditions on the glaciers of Sölden, Stubaital, Pitztal and Kaunertal are okay. Powder can be found and the conditions are good. Watch out for the first avalanches due to snowed in frost. In the other areas you can find up to 20-50 centimeters at 2400 meters altitude. It's still green below 2000 meters.
Northern Alps west: -/+ to ++ conditions. It's already winter above 1800 meters. Around the 2200 meter, the snow cover is usually between 30 and 60 centimeters thick and above 2500m over a meter. Best conditions are to be found in Andermatt. In other areas the snow is often too thin to cover the sharks.
Western Alps north: -- to +++ condities. In general, the conditions are not perfect in this region. An exception is the area around Zermatt, Saas Fee and the Simplon. It snowed a lot over here in recent weeks, and you can find a closed snow cover of around two meters above 2200 meters. In the other areas the snow cover is 10-40 centimeters, which isn't too much. So if you want to ride some powder, go towards the Matterhorn, Monte Rosa and Simplon. The lifts are open and the touring is pretty good.
Western Alps central: - to +/- conditions. The conditions improved because of yesterdays snowfall and you can find some good touring. The best conditions are found in the Haute Maurienne and the Isère. In the rest of the resorts the snow cover is pretty thin with around 20-50 centimeters. And that also applies to Val Thorens and Tignes where some lifts are running. But watch out when leave the marked slopes, because of the thin snow cover.
Western Alps south: +/- to ++ conditions. You can find 80-150 centimeters of snow on the northern slopes and 60-110 cm on south slopes above 2200 meters. The current snow line is around 1500-1800 meters, and the snow cover is pretty good above 2000 meters. Most snow in the Mercantour, Pelvoux and Dévoluy. No lifts are open in these regions, but if they were running, the skiing would be really good above 2200 meters.
Southern Alps west: +/- to + conditions. The current snow line now hovers around 1500 meters, but only above 2100 meters the riding is quite good. You can find 30-60 centimeters at 2200 meter and 70-140 centimeters at 2500 meter. There are no lifts open yet, but the touring is okay.
Southern Alps central: +++ conditions. It's already winter over here! Well at least above 2000 meters and locally even lower. Around 4 to 7 meters of snow came down the last weeks and you can find a closed snow cover of two meters at 2400 meters. There are already lifts open and touring is excellent. Here you will find the best conditions in the Alps at this moment.
It's a great start of winter. High pressure will dominate the Alps until next week. It will cause the snow in the valleys to melt, and surface hoar will form in the shadow (forests, north faces and steeper west and east faces). This high pressure area dominates the weather next week with a small chance of some snow from the Po-Valley.
PowderAlert #2 from November 28?
The low pressure areas are coming back from November 26th. Snow coming from the south west might be expected around 26-28 November. Snow for the French (southern) Alps and the southern Alps. We'll keep you updated!
Enjoy your powder weekend and ride safe!