The Bernese Oberland in Switzerland woke up with 10-20 cm of fresh snow this morning and some more will come down the next couple of hours. It is the start of 48 hours of snowfall, then a few hours of sun and then again 48 hours of snowfall in the northwest and north of the Alps. The party will be over after that: higher temperatures will arrive in the Alps. So wax up, the next couple of days will be pretty good!
The weekend in the Bernese Oberland and northern Vorarlberg was, well, quite okay. You could make the first powder turns of the season and plenty of snow came down in powder magnets like the Kleinwalsertal (report) or Lech (see the video above). Places like Diablerets also got a lot of snow and we're even getting quite jalous on Flo Ehrenstrasser from Lech who found some great snow this weekend.
Meanwhile, the snow cover is settling, due to the influence of the temperature, the sun, and the mass of the snow cover. The snow cover shrunk for about 20% compared to the amount that came down during the weekend. It's quite easy to see that on measuring stations in Switzerland. Sometimes the snow cover even settles during the dump, the weight of the snow simply pushes the air out of the snowpack. That's why the snow cover is always thinner than the amount of snow that has fallen. Ten meter of snowfall in one season does not mean that the snow cover is ten meters thick. But hey, there's a nice snowpack to be found right now in Switzerland.
It was snowing already this weekend in the Bernese Oberland. The clouds are on their way to the east of Switzerland and Vorarlberg. A second storm is on its way to the French northern Alps and the west and north of Switzerland. The front is moving towards the northern Alps in the night to Thursday and Austria will also gets his share. You can expect around 15-35 centimeter of freshies at an altitude of 1800 meters in the northwestern and northern Alps until Friday morning. Locally this will even 50 centimeters or more. Because the snow line is at pretty low altitude, the snow will deep into the valleys.
Friday will be sunny (thanks to some high pressure). And Andermatt will open its lift for the first time this season! At the time of writing there is about one meter at the top and around 35 cm at 2000 meters altitude. It's not waist-deep, but it will guarantee some first tracks (or at least some tracks, since it's still Andermatt). But you are probably better off in Elsigenalp. The lifts will open over there on Friday as well and you can ride on alpine meadows over there. Less extreme, but also fewer rocks and sharks that want to eat your P-tex. And yes, this is our secret advice for Friday. Same story for Bödele - Schwarzenberg: less extreme and even flatter than Elsigenalp, but great alpine meadows.
For the weekend warriors who can't make it this Friday, there's always Saturday and Sunday. Right? Yes, but the visibility won't be that good. Snowfall and wind make it difficult to navigate, so better be careful. Especially because the temperature will rise slightly compared to the previous days.
The temperatures will rise after the weekend. The weather will be perfect to go out for a tour or ride some slopes on the glaciers. The quality of the snow will be good on north faces, but keep in mind that the snow above 2400 meters on many north faces is an old layer that can do its job as a weak layer when there's some new snow coming in. Weak layer + hard slab + steep slope = increased risk of avalanches. Or in plain English: avalanche danger. And if this is all sounds like Chinese to you, please follow Mountain Academy before winter really really starts, so you're more aware.
If you want to ride powder: take Friday off. It will be the best day of the week. Some freshies, cold temperatures and the sun will shine. You can expect lots of wind and poor visibility on Saturday and Sunday, but you can also expect some snowfall. Where to go? Well, the snow falls in the northwest and north of the Alps. The French southern Alps and Italy aren't that interesting (for riding powder). It will be like O sole mio when you arrive with all your gear, but without the powder. My advice:
If you have some advice or do you know which resorts will open as well, let me know in the comments! More details tomorrow!