SNOWvember is coming to an end, but before we enter December there will first be a dump for the northwestern Alps. Then we can look again at the southern Alps again, because December starts with a dump for the southwest and south of the Alps. The northern Alps thus remain out of reach again. But those who look very far into the future will see that we can hope for a northern stau around or after the 6th of December. In this forecast:
Although there's been a lot of reporting about the recent snowfall in the Alps in the media, the snow cover in large parts of the French Northern Alps is not that good. The same applies to the west and north of Switzerland and the north of Austria. Snowfall in western and northern Switzerland is even far below the annual average.
This will change over the next three days. Ex-hurricane Sebastian moves into Europe with initially mild temperatures, but it will be clearly colder from Friday. The snow line is therefore initially around 1800 to 2000 meters, but is already dropping towards 1300-1600 meters on Thursday to end up around 1000 meters on Friday. Therefore, mainly snow for the high alpine at first, but later also for the mid-mountains. Expect 50-70 cm of fresh snow, locally even a meter above 2100 meters up to and including Friday. Most snow falls in the real western Stau areas. The more east you go (Haute Maurienne, Haute Tarentaise and Haute Valais the less snow will fall down. The wind is very powerful from time to time so that the snow will be transported around ridges and peaks.
Areas such as Val d'Isère-Tignes, Bonneval sur Arc, Val Cenis and Valfréjus have previously benefited from the snow from the east and are now getting some more. In particular Val d'Isère-Tignes will be very good on Saturday, the other areas are still closed. But for more westerly areas such as Les Sybelles, Les 3 Vallées, Le Grand Massif or Les Portes du Soleil, this is actually the first good storm in weeks. Last week's retour d'est has blown the snow from the slopes there. The sharks are therefore never deep and it is really still pre-season there. Whoever wants to ride powder this weekend in the French Northern Alps and western Switzerland is best off in the areas in the main alpine ridge, where we are already in pre-winter.
Under a back of high pressure it will be dry on Saturday. Although there are still clouds here and there, higher up the mountain the sun is shining. With the fresh snow it is really nice to ride. For inspiration I have compiled a list of areas where snow has fallen, where it will still come down the next few days and where the lifts are running. Tips for the coming weekend are:
The best option by far is:
Good options are:
A back of high pressure on Saturday, but a new storm depression in the west is ready and on Sunday it will arrive at the Alps. With a western to southwestern current, a lot of snow is then coming to the Alps again.
With a southwestern current it is usually the French Southern Alps and the areas south of the Gotthard and the Engadin that get a lot of snow. The snow line is initially around 1600 meters, but drops towards 1000 meters during the day. And because areas such as Isola 2000, Puy Saint Vincent and Montgenèvre already have a solid base, the lifts run there on Sunday and the larches go quite high, a tree run may already be possible. Keep in mind that the snow cover between the trees is still thin and that branches and other bushes pose a serious threat to you.
The social channels of the ski resorts in the Northern Alps might make you believe differently, but it's not that good in a lot of places yet. Only inneralpine areas and the main alpine ridge have enough snow there, but the Föhn of last weekend had its influence. On piste fine, off piste it could be better.
But in the very distant future a northern Stau is coming in. The models have been hinting on a northern stau for a few days from the first weekend of December.
It is as if King Winter has been waiting for us. For the last two years, Arjen and I, along with a team of designers, editors and not to mention all our friends in the Alps, have worked endlessly on the ultimate freeride guide book: wePowder Guide the Alps. The last two months in particular were intense, working on that last bits. The presses will be running soon and the aim is to ensure that if you order now you'll receive your guide before Christmas. You can read all about our new book here. The guide is available in a limited edition and only the guides from the pre-order (€ 40,00 instead of € 45,00) are exclusively numbered. Order it now and make sure that you don't miss out!
Stay stoked, Morris