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