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Heavy snowstorms in Val d'Isere

Dramatic wintery weather in Val d'Isere

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Wayne Watson | Val d'Isere Reporter | Published: 2 Jan 2018

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Heavy snowstorms in Val d'Isere

The New Year’s weekend started off with a bitterly cold day on Friday, with -16ºC on the summit of Bellevarde, and with enough wind to give the added ‘chill-factor’ a real bite.

I decided on keeping warm on the sunny slopes and Chris and I took our clients for a double ‘skin’ to the Crete du Genepy followed by Mont Roup, and with the combination of being protected from the wind on the sunny-side (east and southerly slopes) and the warmth generated by walking we were stripping off layers and hats and pretty much oblivious to how cold it was elsewhere. We also had fantastic snow and it was a brilliant result for our efforts.

Val d'Isere

Saturday was an absolute nightmare for anyone travelling down or up the mountain. We had a metre of snow Friday night continuing into  Saturday combine this with the busiest day of the season travel-wise it was taking people 10-hours and more to get to their destinations! If you can help it never, ever, travel to Val d’Isere on a Saturday, especially during holiday periods.

Val d'Isere

As for the skiing on Saturday we had between 50 and 70 centimetres of snow on the piste but after a marvellous first run, it became very difficult as it warmed up dramatically and the snow became heavier and heavier. The piste skiing was difficult as well because very few lifts were open and the piste became uncomfortable bumpy.

Val d'Isere

On Sunday the sun was out in full force and everyone thought we were in for one of those special days. I thought it was cold enough during the night to dry out the snow and was expecting some great skiing but it turned out to be the most difficult day of the season. The snow was wind-pressed at best, extremely heavy in other places and below 2200/2300 metres there was a nasty rain-crust, and it was the type of skiing where someone could easily tear up a knee. We tried but eventually gave up to protect our clients from injury as it just wasn’t worth the risk. The piste skiing was just as bad because very little was open and everyone was funnelled onto the same pistes, they were extremely bumpy, very crowded, and not much fun at all. It’s very rare to have one metre of fresh snow and clear blue skies and actually have an incredibly difficult day, and perhaps the worst day of the season so far!

Val d'Isere

After the toughest day of the season on Sunday, Monday was a great reward for those skiing again as just enough snow fell Sunday night to keep us afloat and it made for some seriously good skiing. With the northerly wind blowing all night the southern slopes in the lee loaded up beautifully and we had some excellent powder up high but still needed to deal with patches of a thin rain-crust below around 2200 to 2300 metres. We skied up on the Motte where we took the first funicular of 2018 and enjoyed at least 30 cms of light powder and I’m sure it was good up on the Motte on Sunday as well but we never had the chance to find out with the funicular shut all day long.

Val d'Isere

It looks as if we could see up to between one and two metres of snow from Monday night until Thursday so we’ll have high avalanche risk, delayed openings, and limited openings meaning crowded pistes and some very frustrated tourists. Listen to Radio Val in the mornings for snow and weather reports, for times when they feel the lifts will open, and be patient because it will be a very difficult week.

Val d'Isere

Have a great week and enjoy being in the middle of such as serious storm because snow like this doesn’t come around every year, and very few people ever get to experience the type of winter mountain weather that will be experienced this week. Stay tuned for another update on Friday!

Follow more from Wayne in his Daily Diary.

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