The deepest snow base in the Alps has hit the 3m/10 feet mark for the first time this season, on the slopes high above Chamonix.
The resort claims it has had 237cm (over seven and a half feet) of snow on upper runs in the last week, and the forecast snow for the coming week is almost as much again.
Whilst Chamonix is claiming much more snow than anywhere else the past week’s snowfall numbers are big at other famous resorts: 90cm at Cervinia in Italy, 95cm at Saas Fee in Switzerland, 105cm at La Plagne and 125cm at Serre Chevalier in France.
For many other major resorts in the Western Alps with high altitude skiing the numbers are more often in the 30-60cm accumulation bracket.
But it’s not a universal picture and it’s more a case of extremes. Many skiers reported rain down at resort level (as high as 2000m) over the weekend – the big snow numbers are up above 3000m.
And much of the eastern half of the Alps, along with the Dolomites, are still waiting a good snowfall. There’s been a few inches at least in the Ziller Valley and Skiwelt in Austria for example but cover remains very thin there so far, although about a foot/30cm of fresh snow is in the forecast for the area for the coming week.
Where the snow numbers are big, the avalanche danger remains at near the maximum danger scale, so it’s foolhardy to head off piste.
Overall, whilst most traditional resorts remain challenged for snow cover down at resort level (Chamonix reports only 18cm down in the valley), higher up it remains fairly non-stop snow and purpose built resorts at altitude like Avoriaz, Courchevel 1850 and Val Thorens all have 60-90cm (2-3 feet) of snow lying at resort level and double that up top.
(Pictured above: Livigno, Italy yesterday)