Skiers keep calm as snow improves

12th December 2014, by Abi Butcher

Val Thorens will be 95% open this weekend — this photo was taken on Tuesday

Val Thorens will be 95% open this weekend — this photo was taken on Tuesday

British skiers are keeping calm and carrying on, despite a lack of snow in resorts for the time of year. 

Where to Ski and Snowboard has this morning talked to a variety of tour operators from Inghams to Ski Amis, all of whom report that their customers are reassured to be getting some skiing as the season starts — and pleased that ski passes in some resorts are going to be cheaper than usual!

Ski Amis, which operates in the Three Valleys and Paradiski, has its first raft of skiers arriving tomorrow.

“The snow is, of course, not as good as it should be at the moment – but it is still very early and customers have been surprisingly calm. It isn’t a bumper week out there at the moment – but nobody is going to be unable to ski if they are going to the Three Valleys or Paradiski,” says Ski Amis owner Christine van Zadelhoff.

It has been snowing in the Alps this week — see yesterday’s snow report and reader Tanya Booth’s Tuesday blog from Obergurgl — but not everywhere, especially lower resorts. While we do still need a few big dumps to get the season going, colder temperatures in the past week have allowed resorts to fire up their snow cannons to build cover on the pistes.

Val Thorens plans to opens 95% of its lifts this weekend, and the Three Valleys is laying on bus shuttles from lower villages where links are supposed to be open. The Tignes-Val d’Isère link will be open this weekend as will resorts in the Pyrenees. Obertauern in Austria has 55cms on upper slopes already and the conditions are reportedly “fantastic” in Cervinia.

Roger Walker, of Ski-2 which operates in the Italian resort of Champoluc, said bookings are currently up on last winter and no one is worried.

“From 0900 hours tomorrow morning, a good percentage of the Monterosa ski area will be open, allowing our clients to ski from Champoluc, over to Gressoney and on to the upper pistes of Alagna. The snow above 2,500 metres is reportedly excellent and mainly natural. The lower slopes are mainly artificial snow,” he said. “For those that know the area, the following pistes / lifts will be available – Osatfa 1, Sarezza, La Mandria, Bettaforca, Sant’Anna (down to top of cable car up from Stafal), Salati and the piste down to Pianalunga (at 2,046 metres) where you can then take the new cable car back up to Passo Salati and then ski all the way down to Stafal. The link between Champoluc and Frachey ski areas is due to open next week.”

In Switzerland, Saas-Fee has fabulous conditions higher up, Zermatt reports “amazing conditions” and Crans Montana opens this weekend.

Andy Perrin, chief executive of Hotelplan which owns Inghams, Ski Total and Esprit ski said: “We are getting a few calls of course, but am glad to say we have been able to reassure all our guests that we will of course make sure we get them skiing!  No one is asking for holiday refunds and with the snow we’ve had this week, there is more and more opening all the time, and more snow forecast for next week too, so it’s a steadily improving situation.”

A handful of resorts are not opening this weekend — including Megève, Chamonix and La Clusaz in France, but most are doing their best to open some skiing up thanks to colder temperatures in the past week allowing snow cannons to build cover on the pistes.

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