Time for some big mountain lines!

By meteomorris on 24 January 2016 · 4

The Siberian cold has disappeared from the Alps, you can find a good base in the northern Alps and the sun will come out the next couple of days. It's still snowing lightly in Austria, but it will be a nice week to go out for a tour and have a look at the first big mountain lines of the season. Lines like in the video above, filmed around the Arlberg at Friday the January 22nd.

Keywords are shaded slopes and trees, places where the radiation of the sun doesn't have a lot of effect. Who is willing to hike a bit will have a very nice week. After the eternal drought of December and the tree runs of the past few weeks, the bigger lines above the tree line are waiting. But 'conservative lines' is still key next week. All avalanche forecast in the Northern Alps still report that the 'old snow layer' is a problem. In this forecast:

  • No precipitation in the Alps anymore
  • New perspectives
  • The invisible avalanche danger requires conservative riding
  • Tips for this week

No precipitation in the Alps anymore

Storm Iris brought warm air to the Alps. The Siberian temperatures of -23 Celsius from last week are a blast from the past. Around 2-15 cm of freshies came down in the east of Switzerland, Vorarlberg, Tyrol and the Salzburgerland since Saturday. Locally even 25 cm of freshies came down in the north of Styria. It's mild today with the freezing level around 2600 meters in the French Alps and 1800 meters in the east of Austria. Because of residual clouds and diffuse light, this heat could affect the upper part of the snow cover. It's the end of the fluffy light powder, especially on sunny southern slopes.

New perspectives

The humidity will dropping from Monday, the sun is still pretty low in the sky at this time of the year and the snowpack is still pretty cold. All of this offers new perspectives. The well-known freeride routes close to the slopes are tracked, but if you're willing to hike or skin can still find some great snow. It will stay dry and sunny in the Alps until Thursday. High pressure will determine the weather and that means cold nights and mild sunny days. Because of those cold nights, cold air can drop into the valleys and this will result in cold mornings. It's mild during the day in the pre-Alps and the highest peaks, but it will remain cold in the valleys in the main alpine ridge. You can still find good snow in the forests and on north faces in those valleys.

The invisible avalanche danger requires conservative riding

Lots of snow profiles show that the snowpack is still unstable. The situation right now is very similar to that of last year. An old snow layer can be found deep in the snowpack that causes the instability. When the weight of a single skier or snowboarder reached this this layer, it's is enough to disturb the delicate balance in the snowpack, causing the dangerous slab avalanche.

(C) Safety Academy
(C) Safety Academy

This danger can't be seen with the naked eye. It led to many victims in winter '14 -'15 in a short time. The only solution is conservative riding (which means: not too steep!). This weak layer is present everywhere in the northwestern and northern Alps above 2000 meters and it is impossible to predict whether and where you are going to hit it. The use of proper decision methods is a must. If you have no idea what you're doing you're playing Russian Roulette. Check your local avalanche forecast every day and adapt your plans to it. Avalanche beacon, shovel and probe are a must. No knowledge?, go out with a mountain guide!

Tips for this week

You'll have to start searching for powder in the Alps. Go for a hike or skin up a peak in:

  1. Vorarlberg and Tirol,
  2. The north of the Salzburgerland and Steiermark,
  3. Berner oberland and Glanerland,
  4. Haute Savoie and Wallis,
  5. Savoie and Isère ,
  6. The north of the French southern Alps.

Stay stoked, Morris


  • DWF
    DWF op 25 January 2016 · 10:53
    Hi Morris, is it possible for you to provide us with a credit to the video embedded in this post? I would be very interested to know what type of drone that was used to film this Movie.
  • wiz1989
    wiz1989 op 25 January 2016 · 15:26
    Hi Morris, I'll be staying in Mayrhofen, Zillertal this week with plenty friends (Thu - Sun).
    I was thinking of going off piste in case the conditions allow it. One option would be e.g. the Hoher Riffler from Tuxer glacier.
    Do you know how the backcountry snow conditions in that area look like at the moment? Is it worth going up there and having a look at the faces?

    Thanks for your amazing work!
    Regards, Danny
  • Arild
    Arild op 25 January 2016 · 16:21
    Hi @meteomorris
    Thanks a lot for all the excellent info.

    We're going for a week in CH, FR or IT, landing i Geneve on Saturday 30.January. (got cars, max travel around 3h).
    Any suggestion on where to go?
    Looks like it is going to we warm, and maybe some snow in the forecast January 31. So we are thinking "go high". Does Val d'isere/Tignes or Val Thorens sound OK for next week? Maybe also Courmayeur?

    Starting to think about accommodation.. When do you plan your next forecast?

  • flinnster
    flinnster op 25 January 2016 · 23:52
    http://www.supremeodyssey.com/ made the video, for those who are interested.

    (At a guess, I'd say it was a DJi Phantom 3 Pro drone)


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