Glacier watch: 27 August

27th August 2011, by Chris Gill

The Plateau Rosa glacier, 27 August

The Plateau Rosa glacier, 27 August

The summer ski season is winding down in the Alps. Some of the main areas close this weekend (28 August), until the autumn, while others are offering limited skiing.

It has been a hot few weeks across the mountains, notably in Austria – where they have experienced very high temperatures recently.This has rapidly depleted snow levels and cover is thin in places now.

The short season did deliver some good sport though; the miserable wet weather during June and July meant some decent snowfalls on the slopes; webcams revealed powder turns in Switzerland and reports of good skiing on the Hintertux glacier (open all year). Snow depths have since declined in the baking sunshine, with some areas struggling on less than half a metre.

In France, Tignes (15cm) has announced a premature closure of a week – finishing on 28 August instead of 4 September. But the Grand Motte glacier expects to reopen for autumn snow sports on 1 October.

Les Deux Alpes also shuts this weekend, but plans a special October half term weekend of fun on the approach to winter; the resort will open on 22 October for a new event ‘Enjoy the Glacier’, when there will be a combined freestyle and skateboarding festival, gear testing, movie previews and BBQ’s among the line-up.

In Switzerland, both Saas Fee and Zermatt continue to offer snow sports. The slopes are in fairly good nick, with some of the best cover in the Alps. Zermatt’s Italian neighbour Cervinia closes for summer skiing this weekend, so you’ll only be able to access the glacier from the Swiss side.

In Italy, there is limited skiing in Val Senales. The resort has a few runs open on the Schnalstal Glacier, but the weather is hot and sunny so shorts and slush are typical there. Passo Stelvio is also open, with fairly good cover; but it’s remote for a quick visit.

In Austria, the Tux (40cm) glacier is open all year, but the snow levels have fallen considerably in the past few weeks. Typically conditions are poor unless you enjoy slush and glacier ice. It is sleeting and wet on the upper slopes on Saturday 27 August, as cooler weather slips in to the area. The temperature is only just hitting zero degrees though, so it’s unlikely to deliver much in the way of snowfall.

Zermatt slopes under blue skies, 27 August

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