Winter continues in the Alps

26th May 2013, by Abi Butcher

Snow on Col du Petit Saint Bernard between La Thuile and La Rosière. Photo: TUI

Snow on Col du Petit Saint Bernard between La Thuile and La Rosière. Photo: TUI

Heavy snow is wreaking havoc in the Alps, where winter refuses to give up its grip and unusually cold conditions continue to prevail.

This photo of the Col du Petit Saint Bernard, the route between Italy and France (La Thuile to La Rosière), was taken a few days ago. Locals aim to open the road as soon as possible but the amount of snow is proving challenging.

In Italy, stage 20 of the Giro d’Italia cycling race has just finished in blizzard conditions, after three of five mountain climbs were removed. Roads up the Tre Cime di Laveredo (2,304m) in the northeastern Dolomites were well gritted, but snow drifts reached 20ft high either side of the road as they reached the finish.

Friday’s stage 19 was cancelled altogether because of heavy snow and last week organisers cut short stage 15, the ascent to Col du Galibier, because of avalanche risk, and the climb to Sestriere on stage 14 was also shortened because of the danger of falling ice.

In some ski resorts, snow has been falling as low as 600m. Last week more than 1.5m fell in Cervinia, but the only ski resort in Italy still open is the Presana glacier near Passo Tonale, due to close on 8 June.

In Verbier it’s been snowing since the official close of the season on 28 April, and many locals have their touring skis out. Rob Stanford from the Warren Smith Ski Academy said yesterday: “There’s enough snow on the ground to run a ski course right now! Where’s summer?”

WTSS web editor Abi Butcher is headed out to Austria for some rehabilitation therapy in the healing caves of Bad Hofgastein (look out for blogs this week) and if her ACL hadn’t just been reconstructed she would be taking touring skis. The resort has had 8cm of fresh snow in the past 48 hours, and the four open ski resorts in Austria have more than 1m of snow each.

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