Avalanche of openings for French ski resorts

In what is one of the best starts to the season for many years a number of French ski resorts are going to open their doors this weekend, at least partially. In the Pyrenees it doesn’t seem to have stopped snowing with depths more like January than the end of November. At 1800 meters there is well over 50cm of snow with close to 150cm at the top of most resorts.

Nineteen of the regions 27 ski resorts will open this weekend, it is a long list: La Pierre Saint-Martin, Gourette, Iraty, Le Somport, Cauterets, Piau, Le Tourmalet, Luz, Val d’Azun, Nistos, Payolle (free lift passes), Peyragudes, Beille, Ax, Goulier, Les Monts d’Olmes, Le Chioula, Les Angles, Puigmal.

In the Northern Alps there is over a meter of snow at 2000 m and Christmas has come early for Chamonix (Grand Montets), La Clusaz, Les Houches, Les Contamines-Montjoie and Val d’Isere. Six of the Portes du Soleil resorts will be cranking the ski lifts into action: Avoriaz, Chatel, les Gets for the French and Champery, Morgin and Torgon representing the Swiss. Links may not be operating. In the Bauges between Annecy and Chambery Les Aillons will be open.

Les Sept Laux near Grenoble has been open since Wednesday 26th November (they opened partially on the 30th October, the earliest ever date for this resort and the first non-glacier resort to open in Europe). They join glacier resort of Les Deux Alpes. The Collet d’Allevard will also open. There is a rumour that Alpe d’Huez will open some lifts to but nothing on the website this morning.

Elsewhere Le Mont Dore and Besse Super Besse in the Massif Central will also open this weekend. In the Vosges Gérardmer, Gaschney, Schnepfenried and Tanet will open and Isola 2000 will represent the Southern Alps.

Skiers going off piste should remember that their is not much base below 2000 meters. Time for using your rock skis. There has also been a lot of wind earlier in the week which will have formed fresh snow slabs, especially at altitude. For the Alps Meteo France warns of slabs above 1800 meters on North, East and West slopes especially on steeper convex slopes. They also note the formation of weak layers due to the recent cold weather. The risk is higher in the Pyrenees with weak layers and large accumulations above 2200 meters.

Posted by davidof on Friday, 28 November, 2008 at 09:54 AM

On the snow has a fairly incomplete list, it doesn’t include most of the resorts I identified as opening last week.

Posted by davidof on  Friday, 05 December, 2008  at 02:12 PM
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