Glacier watch: 03 October

3rd October 2011, by Chris Gill

Pitztal glacier on Monday 3 October

Pitztal glacier on Monday 3 October

While we have been relighting the BBQ’s in our mini heatwave, temperatures in the Alps have also risen again – in marked contrast to the wintry scenes we recently reported. But thanks to last month’s heavy snowfall, glacier resorts in Austria, in particular, have been able to reopen for autumn snow sports. Others are preparing to open in the next week or two.

Cooler weather is set to cross the UK later this week, with the first dustings of snow on the Scottish mountains; this system is forecast to track down to the Alps too. Again, Austria is forecast to do best out of any snowfall at the end of the week. There could also be a welcome refresh for Switzerland’s Saas Fee and Zermatt.

Glaciers open

In Austria, Hintertux has the best conditions at present, with 36km slopes open. It has been warm there during the past week, but reported snow depths are 105cm. The Stubai glacier reopened following last month’s snowfall and has good skiing on a 60cm base. Sölden’s high glacier slopes also reopened, joining Pitztal, Kaunertal and Mölltal as the group that had originally expected to postpone opening due to a lack of snow cover. It’s not long to go now though until the gear tests and Alpine skiing kicks off the new season.

Tignes, France, has just reopened. Four lifts are running at present. No significant snow is forecast this week, although it should at least start to feel a little cooler.

In Switzerland, you can ski in Zermatt and Saas Fee. Both resorts have adequate cover for the time of year. Relatively little snow is available in Italy right now, although both Val Senales (40cm) and Passo Stelvio limp through the later summer / early autumn by keeping a few runs open. They won’t be joined by any other Italian glacier skiing until the end of the month.

Autumn calendar

Resorts planning to open this month include: Engelberg, Switzerland (8 October); St Moritz, Switzerland, and Les Deux Alpes, France (briefly) on 22 October. Cervinia, Italy is not expecting to open its shared access with Zermatt before the end of October.

North America

Summer isn’t over just yet in the Rockies, despite dustings of snow on the mountains a couple of weeks ago. In the US, resorts in Colorado are enjoying a warm and sunny start to October. But up north in Canada, Whistler has reported its first autumn snowfalls today (3 October) – just a few centimetres.



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