Record breaker for les 7 Laux
After last season’s poor winter with a loss of over 600,000 euros mid-mountain ski resorts have been looking skywards with some trepidation over the last few weeks. The storm which has blasted Austria and Switzerland, dumping around a meter of snow in 24 hours in Davos, finally ground its way south into the French Alpes. Although it had lost some of its early force it still managed to leave 50cm of snow at the top of the pistes of les 7 Laux in the Isere department. Enough to give the piste director the seemingly crazy idea of opening his ski resort in mid-November.
Now autumn snow is not unheard of but has become increasingly rare over the last few years. Val Thorens traditionally opened at the start of November but after a series of disappointing starts recently it had only planned to open on the 24th this year. But the bottom of the pistes at Val Thorens (2300 meters) are only a few meters below the summit of les 7 Laux. Things were looking hopeful by mid-week. A few brave ski tourers were already posting good conditions in the mountains surrounding Grenoble. The resort had the snow canons laying down a base. On Friday the decision was taken, the resort would have limited opening over the weekend. The word was out.
Free heels and High heels
We headed up on Sunday, along with most of Grenoble. The car-park was pretty full and a warm sun beamed down from above… unlike the cold valley shrouded in clouds. It was almost a festival atmosphere on the front neige. Ladies in high heels would not have been out of place on la Croissette at Courchevel 1850 or Megeve. The tourist office told us “it was a family day, a chance for people to get out in the snow and sun and enjoy the mountains, not just downhill skiing but ski touring, snowshoeing or winter walks.”
Some queing mid-day Sunday
The resort hadn’t really anticipated the success. There were some queues for lift passes around lunchtime although the line was moving fairly swiftly. Off-piste was not recommended but with 35cm on the lower slopes there was good snow cover and good skiing on cold but soft snow. The few restaurants that opened ran out of food, and drink, by 1pm. Much to the disappointment of many hungry skiers. To be honest it was a bit of a logistical nightmare for restaurateurs as the resort will be closed during the week. Will it open again next weekend? “It all depends on the snow” the tourist board told us “we are expecting rain at altitude mid-week, this is not necessarily a bad thing as it will penetrate the fresh snow, if we get cold it will form a good, solid base for the winter, check back on Wednesday.”
The 7 Laux’s previous record opening was the 19th of November… in 1999. Another el-Nina year with record snowfalls and the tragic avalanches of Montroc and Galtur. Without a repeat of those events we hope the 7 Laux is the canary in the climatic coal mine.
Posted by davidof
on Monday, 19 November, 2007 at 06:59 PM
It’s absolutely chucking down in the Pyrenees and I guess weekend opening was just a pipe dream! I skied on Sunday and was really happy but now it’s all evaporated..........
Well done Laux for showing some initiative and good luck for the season.
Posted by on Tuesday, 20 November, 2007 at 12:07 PM
These end of November hot periods are a nightmare. We seem to get a foehn wind every year at this time and it can reduce snow depth by 50cm over 24 hours. I remember about 3 years back we had over a meter at Val d’Isere on the 30th of November and by the following weekend it had all vanished.
No wonder the native American’s call the wind “chinook” - the snow eater!
Posted by davidof
on Tuesday, 20 November, 2007 at 12:15 PM
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