Latest snow report
Updated: 6pm Monday 13 March 2017
It has turned decidedly spring-like in the Alps in recent days, and the weather will remain largely fine and sunny all week. This means classic freeze-thaw conditions, with a solid refreeze at night followed by a softening or melting of the snow during the day - at a rate dependent on aspect and altitude.
Slopes facing east or south-east get the sun early and so soften up first, quickly followed by those that are south-facing. The sun then “moves round” to affect south-west and west-facing slopes later in the day. Above about 2000m north-facing slopes are likely to remain firm and grippy for much or all of the day.
With regards to snow depths, these are still healthy at altitude across many parts of the Alps, though the south-east (i.e. the Dolomites) is an obvious exception. Here the snow pack has been very thin all season, even high up. Lower down, however, it will feel increasingly spring-like right across the Alps over the next few days, with valleys turning increasingly green – especially on their southern sides.
Snow conditions across the pond remain pretty good for mid-March with healthy (and in places still exceptional) snow depths in most western Canadian and US resorts.
Sunny and increasingly warm weather means spring-snow conditions for many Austrian ski resorts. If you want to ski on firm and grippy snow all day long, then you really need to be in a resort with plenty of north-facing slopes above 1800-2000m, such as Obergurgl (50/180cm) and Ischgl (20/120cm).
Lower down, there is still some enjoyable piste skiing to be had in the likes of Söll (55/65cm) and Saalbach (40/80cm), but afternoon slush is more prevalent.
There is still lots of great skiing to be had in the French Alps, despite the warm spring weather. Resorts with plenty of north-facing terrain above 1800-2000m, such as Val d’Isère (140/260cm) and Val Thorens (135/245cm) are offering the most consistent snow quality.
Lower down, spring is very much in control in the likes of Les Gets (50/150cm) and La Clusaz (15/160cm), but there is also some very enjoyable skiing to be had here, you just have to be more diligent with your timing and choice of slope. A local guide always helps to avoid the worst of any ice or slush early/late in the day.
There is still plenty of good skiing to be had in the Italian Alps, even if snow depths are very modest in the east where there is just 10/40cm depending on altitude in the likes of Selva and Corvara.
The best overall snow conditions are higher up in the central and western Italian Alps, with base depths of 48/115cm in Livigno and 55/220cm in La Thuile.
More generally, expect freeze-thaw conditions this week with afternoon slush becoming prevalent on low slopes and those exposed to the sun.
Like everywhere else in the Alps, spring has sprung in Switzerland with freeze-thaw conditions in operation this week, especially lower down. That doesn’t mean there isn’t lots of good skiing still available, but for the best snow conditions you need to aim for the higher resorts, such as Zermatt (10/220cm) and Saas-Fee (35/220cm).
Lower down, you can still have great fun on the pistes of Les Diablerets (40/150cm) and Champéry (10/160cm), as long as you allow for more in the way of afternoon slush.
Rest of Europe
Some Pyrenean resorts are seeing a dusting of snow today, though it won’t be significant and mild weather will prevail this week. That said, base depths are still healthy at altitude. Andorra’s Soldeu now has 120/180cm, while Spain’s Baqueira Beret has 30/200cm.
Some Norwegian resorts have had a dusting of snow recently, which has helped freshen up the pistes in Voss (65/105cm).
Scotland is still struggling, however, with the most extensive option right now being Cairngorm (5/20cm), where there are just five lifts running.
Snow depths remain impressive across most of the western US, exceptional even in places like California’s Mammoth(470/874cm) and Wyoming’s Jackson Hole (264/396cm). However, snow conditions are becoming increasingly spring-like in the strengthening March sun, especially lower down.
Over in Colorado, Vail has mid-mountain base depths of 137cm, while Breckenridge has 160cm.
Whistler has seen another 71cm at altitude this week bringing settled snow depths to just over 3m. There is also more snow forecast over the next few days though, with relatively high freezing levels, it will fall as rain lower down.
Further east, the Banff/Lake Louise area has 137/207cm of snow, while Marmot Basin has 140cm (upper mountain).
Next full snow report will be on Thursday 16 March 2017,
but see Today in the Alps for regular updates