Snow overview: 6 November

9th November 2011, by Chris Gill

(c) Mammoth Mountain

(c) Mammoth Mountain

If you can’t wait to satisfy your early-season cravings for the white stuff, you can at least get a satisfying hint of good things to come with these reports from the US and Canada, as well as heavy snowfalls in parts of the Alps and Pyrenees. Just check out Formigal!

By contrast, the news has not been so good up north in Finland, where a snowless Levi couldn’t stage the FIS races. Many Scandinavian resorts are still waiting for their first big winter snowfalls.

Formigal in the Spanish Pyrenees starts November well.

More resorts are opening in North America, following recent wintry weather; and despite heavy rain in Italy and Switzerland, there has been good snowfall at altitude in the Alps – much of this has been confined to the highest slopes. Glacier skiing is good, but there is still no sign of sustained cold weather just yet.

North America

More snowfall in the US is beefing up the conditions at many resorts, particularly in Colorado – where a handful of resorts are now open or opening in the next couple of weeks. Pretty good shape for the time of year. Winter Park has announced plans to open four days early, from this Friday 11 November.

The resort joins Keystone, Copper Mountain, Arapahoe Basin, Loveland and Wolf Creek already open for the season; Breckenridge also plans to open on Friday, for the start of its 50th anniversary season. In most cases only a small proportion of trails will be open, but Keystone is boasting top-to-bottom skiing.

In Utah, last weekend delivered another 20cm snow for the resorts of Big Cottonwood Canyon. Solitude and Brighton will be the first to open, this Thursday 10 November. And in California, Mammoth Mountain has turned from green to white in a week. As well as fresh snow, the resort has been running the snowmaking and expects to open at the weekend.

The natural stuff has blessed the Canadian Rockies too, where it has been a chilly week, and with new snowfall to welcome opening days at Mt Norquay (weekends only) and Lake Louise last weekend. Big crowds turned up at both resorts to enjoy the fantastic weather and decent early-season conditions. Sunshine Village is looking good too and plans to open 18 November.

Whistler has another two weeks to wait, but snow is forecast and things are looking promising – but can it better last season’s record-breaking amounts?

Here’s Lake Louise’s opening day video:

The Alps

There has been good snowfall out of last weekend’s storms, particularly in southern Switzerland and Italy. Conditions look super for some early glacier skiing there.

Austria was not so fortunate and missed out on the top up, but the glaciers have good cover if you’re heading that way. We had reports from the Aosta Valley of 1.5m of snow cover on the glacier above Cervinia & Zermatt.

The heavy rain brought as much as half a metre of snow to those areas, plus Saas Fee - another good option for autumn glacier skiing. The pic shows the snow piling up in Pila, the Aosta Valley’s little gem; the resort is right above the town of Aosta and boasts some fine intermediate terrain.

In France, the snow gave a good covering in the Three Valleys and Espace Killy (upper areas). Tignes reported about 20cm new snow on the glacier slopes.

South-westerly weather dumped 60cm of snow in the Spanish Pyrenees – well, Formigal to be precise. The resort is planning a 27 November opening.

The rain didn’t fall on Pila, the snow did though …

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