The twin apocalypse of global warming and credit crunch have spared the Southern Alps, at least for this Christmas but it could all have been so different. Before Christmas villages in the Queyras region were cut off as avalanches rained down. Road passes such as the important Col du Montgenevre were cut. There was no power or phone lines, residents had to be moved out to temporary accommodation, it seemed like a repeat of 1999.
It seems that all publicity is good publicity. The area featured nightly on national French news bulletins. As soon as power was restored reservations began to pour in, attracted by the excellent snowfall.
Les Abriès and nearby Ristolas claim nearly 4 meters snow depth on the upper slopes at 2000 meters altitude and 2.40 meters at the bottom of the runs. Currently a record for France. The resort says there is 5 meters at the top of the resort at the Colette de Gilly. Unfortunately an avalanche has swept away a pylon of the drag lift which accesses the sector. It will be out of action until mid January.
The area has yet to get back to normal. Some pistes are still blocked with avalanche debris, particularly broken trees. Yesterday the Aiguiller lift was finally repaired. However there are still occasional power cuts. Yesterday a number of homes lost power.
Reservations of apartments are close to 100% in the area, up from 85% at the same time last year, in itself a good year. Hotels are 90% full with just a few rare rooms to be found. This compares to 60-70% last year.
Elsewhere in the Southern Alps reservations are up 20% in Praloup, le Sauze and Ste Année. The Compagnie des Alpes has reported that Serre Chevalier has 99.9% occupancy and sold a record number of lift passes last Sunday.