Fab April snow: don’t stop skiing

4th April 2013, by Abi Butcher

Val Thorens is bathed in great snow and lots of sunshine: why stop skiing now?

Val Thorens is bathed in great snow and lots of sunshine: why stop skiing now?

The pistes are empty, the lift queues non-existent and resorts are planning their closing weekends…but the snow in most places is outstanding and the sun is out, so if you have a chance to get away again our advice is DO!

“April snow is usually pretty good, very occasionally mediocre but very rarely as fantastic as it is right now,” says tour operator Le Ski. “The sheer amount of snow still in the French Alps is amazing and it means all the lifts and pistes are still open.”

In Courchevel, where Le Ski operates many of its chalets, there’s been in a dusting of fresh snow at the end of this week and more to come over the weekend. Lower slopes have a depth of 156cm, upper slopes 240cm. But there’s only a few weeks of the season left, Courchevel press spokesman Nathalie Faure told WTSS: “Unfortunately no matter the snow, the resort will close on 26 April”.

Ski and Snowboard magazine (formerly Daily Mail Ski and Snowboard, of which WTSS editor Dave Watts is executive editor) has a few places left on its end of season “fling” to Courchevel on 14 April. The fun-packed week includes a champagne and canapé welcome, skiing with Britain’s best-ever Olympic downhiller Martin Bell and magazine staff, a free half-day lesson with and cut-price off-piste guiding by New Generation snowsports school, a free test of the latest skis courtesy of the local Intersport shop, a free BBQ or picnic courtesy of Le Ski and an end of week prize-giving, drinks and celebration of Le Ski’s 30th Anniversary. Prices start at just £469 for chalet board. Contact Le Ski on 01484 548996 or see leski.com.

But further over in the Three Valleys Val Thorens is staying open until 12 May, where you can buy its six-day adult lift pass for €186.30 instead of €207 after 20 April. The resort’s pistes are in “excellent” condition with an upper snow depth of 365 cm, and lower slopes with 165cm. Light snow and sun are expected over the weekend, with temperatures remaining cool.

During the last week of the season, 1-9 May, the Apotheose Days Festival takes place in Val Thorens with concerts every night, fireworks, sport contests, speed skiing and slalom competitions, outdoor Fun Park, water slides …nine days of fun.

Over in Switzerland, Zermatt is gearing up for the sixth running of Zermatt Unplugged, a five-day acoustic festival from 9-13 April, featuring Bryan Ferry, Marianne Faithfull and Skunk Ananse. Zermatt itself closes on 21 April - a little earlier this year in order for renovations to the Sunnegga Express to start.

Saas Fee closes on 20 April with a season end après-ski parade, with a party starting at noon including DJs, eight themed bars and a dance competition.

In Verbier, ski instructor Warren Smith describes the April powder as “epic”, adding: “It’s early April and this incredible season is still going strong.”

Heavy snowfalls are expected early next week in the resort which has snow depths of 75cm on lower slopes, 290cm on the top. The end-of-season Ultime Session, with big air displays, a waterslide contest, equipment tests and DJ’s, takes place in Verbier on 27 April.

All resorts in the SkiWelt, Austria are due to close this coming weekend. Lech and Obergurgl, with current snow depths of 105/235cm and 69/182cm respectively are currently planning to close on 21 April, helped by a forecast of heavy snow over the early part of next week. The glacier resort of Sölden goes on later, with the Gay Snowhappening starting today (6 April) until next Saturday, and the Maxx Mountain Festival from 26 to 28 April.

Party resort Ischgl, which has already lined up Nickelback for next season’s opener on 30 November, closes on 30 April with Deep Purple headlining its Top of the Mountain Concert. Heavy snow and chilly temperatures are also forecast in Ischgl early next week, good for the current conditions with 140cm on the upper slopes.

Over in North America, despite great recent snowfalls in Colorado (9in new snow in Beaver Creek, 7in in Breckenridge) Keystone is closing this weekend with a free concert and annual “Slush Cup” on Sunday.

Breckenridge features “Spring Fever” concerts over the next two weekends and Vail’s closing party Spring Back to Vail kicks off on 12 April with the World Pond Skimming Championships and a free concert by rock veterans OAR, who apparently recently sold out shows at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

The bountiful snow in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains means Mammoth Mountain has already announced it will be open for snowboarding and skiing until at least 27 May “and most likely beyond”.

In Whistler, Canada, the World Ski and Snowboard Festival runs from 12 to 21 April, with 10 days of big air, superpipe, slopestyle and racing competitions, as well as endless fancy-dress parties, film screenings, concerts and the Slush Cup pond-skimming event to celebrate the end of the season.

No doubt there are endless events that we’ve missed, but this gives you just a taster of the fact that in April — and May — and shows that you should keep on skiing.

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