Improving snow conditions early December

Wednesday’s weather system brought 20cm of new snow to the Northern Alps, 10cm further south. However the conditions are generally better further south (Hautes-Alpes, Oisans) due to a better established base.

On south facing slopes it is possible to ski from around 1900 m, 1700 on north facing slopes. There were some strong winds from the south-west over the course of Wednesday and Thursday. This was transporting snow onto north and east sector slopes. The snow has a wind crust in places and there are some small, very localized slabs and sluffing. The slabs we saw were about 20cm thick which were not yet bonded onto a hard base. Elsewhere the base is humid. This should bond and stabilize over the next few days. The conditions are not particularly worrying for the future but take care with the fresh snow towards the weekend and with the formation of fresh slabs under the action of the wind.

The weather is still quite warm and we didn’t see snow canons running. It has been a dry autumn and they may be preserving their water supplies for a prolonged cold spell.

Video From Sunday 10th December, les Sept Laux

Posted by davidof on Friday, 08 December, 2006 at 07:34 AM

I have added a route description and trip report with photos here:-

les Aiguillettes de Vaujany

Posted by davidof on  Friday, 08 December, 2006  at 05:26 PM

Sunday is expected to be sunny with good skiing and touring conditions (still not much base off-piste though). However with the fresh snow fall and strong winds there will be an increased risk of slab avalanches especially close to ridgelines, cols and summits. There were two avalanche incidents in Switzerland yesterday. On on the Grand St Bernard, on an east facing slope between 2000-2500 meters, two skiers partially buried. No serious injuries and the other on the col between the Allalinhorn and Alphubel at 3500m, north aspect, two skiers triggered and carried away by a slab.
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Posted by davidof on  Friday, 08 December, 2006  at 06:10 PM

On his site Laurent Leemans has described how he was caught in a small slab avalanche in the Balme sector of la Clusaz on Thursday. The slide was 100 m long and M. Leemans was more shaken than hurt. However it is a reminder of how the early season conditions can be dangerous. Fortunately there were no cliffs below the path of his slide

Posted by davidof on  Saturday, 09 December, 2006  at 11:50 PM
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