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Snow on the forecast for Val d'Isere

A return to winter and colder temps may be on the way

Featured in:

Wayne Watson | Val d'Isere Reporter | Published: 29 Mar 2019


Snow on the forecast for Val d'Isere

We’ve enjoyed an absolutely stunning week of weather, a little chilly at times due to a brisk northerly wind, but we’ve had nothing but wall-to-wall sunshine. The resort has been unusually quiet, down 13% according to the tourist office, but it seems much more than that, and with the clear blue skies it’s been paradise for those who are here to ski and board on piste.

The pistes have been groomed to perfection every night, and the snow quality has been brilliant. With the cool temperatures most pistes haven’t become too wet in the afternoon, so that it hasn’t been icy first thing in the morning. You can find icy pistes if you ski south facing slopes early in the day, but for the most part the piste quality has been excellent all day long.

The off-piste has been trickier as we haven’t had any fresh snow for quite a while, so the powder slopes have either been tracked or damaged by the high winds, and with the cooler temperature many of the spring slopes haven’t yet transformed to skiable spring snow. However, we have had some wonderful spring snow at lower altitude on southerly expositions, and it’s been another great week of skiing.

Last Friday we had a wonderful day in Tignes with some great spring snow, and some excellent powder before the wind picked up in the Sachette. It was so good I returned on Saturday and Sunday, skiing spring snow on easterly and southern slopes down low, before skiing the last of the powder on the northern slopes in the Sachette. It was a cracking weekend with high quality clean spring snow mixed in with a few powder turns, and that combination always goes down well.

After three days in a row in Tignes I skied some Val d’Isere spring snow classics on Monday. We skied the Clochetons off Bellevarde, followed by the Epaule du Charvet, another Clochetons, the Tour du Charvet via the Couloir du Mont Blanc, the piste ‘L’ and the Familial Sud, to finish off a brilliant morning of spring skiing. Normally on the spring tour you’d turn to the western slopes of the Manchet after the sunny Charvet-side of the mountain, but with the cool temperatures those slopes hadn’t yet transformed to spring snow and remained a frozen mess, and were best avoided.

On Tuesday it was time for a skin and we climbed up to the Crete du Genepy followed by Mont Roup, which was absolutely outstanding with untracked snow that had transformed and softened to perfection, and it was a real treat. In between off-piste routes the piste skiing was as good as it gets, and the combination of wonderful spring snow and a piste blast was hard to beat.

I returned to the Charvet sector on Wednesday for another great day of spring snow without any walking needed. The spring slopes accessible here off the lift system are truly outstanding, and when he snow is clean you can get in a phenomenal amount of skiing. On Thursday I had a group of strong walkers so we had time to do a double skin, and skied the Crete du Genepy again followed by a wonderful Mont Roup. Both itineraries have impressively steep slopes, and with high quality clean spring snow it was a fantastic ski. The avalanche risk has been 1/5 for most of the week, making the steep slopes very accessible and as safe as they get (but don’t be late), and even with limited options it’s been another brilliant week of skiing.

There is a stunning trio playing in the Baraque this week, so if you’re in town on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, stop in and have a listen. They start at 19:30 and shouldn’t be missed. Karen and Andreas play at Le Petit Danois on Friday night starting around 17:15, and it’s one of my favourite gigs, and next Thursday (April 4th) will be the Guinea Pigs last gig at the Danois. They are a fantastic duo and they won’t be here next winter as Paul is moving to Finland to live with his girlfriend, so if you’re in town next week don’t miss them. I’ve watched them every Thursday night for three years and I’m seriously going to miss them.

The weather for the weekend looks to remain sunny, but from Monday on we should see some off-and-on light snowfalls. We aren’t expecting a lot of snow, but even 10cm or so to clean up the tracks off-piste would be gratefully received. Next week also looks to be relatively quiet, so we should have another fabulous week, both on and off-piste. Have a brilliant week and look out for another update next Friday.

Follow more from Wayne in his Daily Diary.

NB: Exploring beyond the ski resort boundaries is an amazing experience for anyone who's physically fit and has mastered the pistes well enough. There are, however, risks associated with venturing outside the safety of the marked/patrolled ski area, including awareness of your actions on those below you on the slopes. Mountain guides are professionally qualified and have extensive knowledge of the local terrain to provide you with the safest and most enjoyable possible experience in the mountains; as a visitor here we highly recommend you hiring one. Many ski schools also provide instruction in off-piste skiing, avalanche safety and mountaineering techniques. Make your time in the mountains unforgettable for the right reasons, ski safe!

Off-piste skiing and mountaineering are dangerous. The opinions expressed in these articles are very much time and condition-specific and the content is not intended in any way to be a substitute for hiring a mountain guide, undergoing professional mountaineering training and/or the individual's own backcountry decision making.