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Ski season not over yet as fresh snowfall hits the Alps

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Val Thorens is still open for business, with more snow on the way Credit: Bruno Longo

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The European ski season is not over yet – indeed, it has now gone back to deep winter conditions, with very cold airflow and fresh dry snowfall in almost all of the high-elevation resorts where the lifts are still running. The Alps have really excellent snow conditions now on upper pistes and glacier slopes, and the forecast indicates major snowfall to come next week. It seems the 2016/17 season is going to go out with a bang. Across North America the choice for skiers is much more limited, but the high-elevation trails that are still served by uplift are typically offering dry and powdery snow conditions. In these select Canadian and US ski locations you can end the season next week with a face full of pow.

France

Fantastic skiing is still on offer in the French Alps, with more in prospect, as further fresh snowfall will soon move over the region. Next week will see nine premier resorts continue to provide uplift for skiing, with pistes above mid station elevation offering great sport. Val Thorens (2,300m) will be open until May 1 and is today offering all 30 lifts to a top station elevation of 3,200m for skiing on groomed and packed dry snow cover. The resort’s forecast has 35cm of snowfall for the next five days – if that delivers, there will be superb skiing on the menu, provided visibility is decent. So it really seems that for skiers lucky enough to have booked the French Alps for the final week of April, you will be ending the season on a high, deep in fresh dry snow.

Austria

The past week has seen periods of heavy snowfall at the 10 premier Austrian resorts that have continued to offer high elevation skiing after Easter. The five-day forecast looks extremely exciting for late season skiers and indicates very heavy snowfall to come for Austria through next week. St Anton (1,300m) in Austria’s Tyrol continues to offer excellent high-elevation skiing, with snow depths at top station elevation now boosted to 220cm by fresh powder snowfall in the last few days. The resort is predicted to catch the heaviest snowfalls in the Alps next week – as much as 80cm of fresh pow is possible above mid station, so epic late April adventure seems assured for skiers lucky enough to be heading this way next week. Today the resort is operating 16 of 23 lifts, and temperatures are unusually cold for this stage of the season.

Switzerland

There is superb skiing on offer high in the Swiss Alps right now, and next week the prospects look excellent, as heavy snowfall is forecast. Recent days have been unusually cold with fresh dry snowfall reported. Next week, lifts will still be turning at 10 premier Swiss resorts, and Zermatt (1,620m) will be offering some of the best skiing in the Alps. The five-day forecast for the resort indicates up to 45cm of fresh dry snow for upper slopes in the Matterhorn region, so base depths, currently at 160cm on Zermatt's glacier pistes, will increase for the start of May. Today 38 of 54 lifts are operational, although that number will drop to around 20 next week. Still, that will be more than enough access for deserted pistes covered in deep fresh powder snow. The bitter end of the season will taste sweet in the Swiss Alps.

GB Park and Pipe team in action in Laax, Switzerland GB Park and Pipe team in action in Laax, Switzerland
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Italy

The last few days have seen skiing in five high-elevation premier resorts across Italy, and there are fresh dry snow conditions on offer – pretty amazing for this late stage of the season. Next week the best skiing and most extensive terrain will be on offer at Cervinia (1,520m), above the Aosta Valley. Today the resort is still offering 13 of 14 lifts and the high pistes, descending from a top station elevation of 3,480m, are offering groomed and packed powder snow conditions. On these high slopes, the base is still almost 200cm deep, and that number is likely to increase through next week with significant snowfall predicted for the region. Cervinia expects up to 30cm of freshies so it looks like late April is going to be offering superb skiing under the Matterhorn, especially when the sun shines.

Canada

Among the Canadian resorts, there is still lift-served skiing on offer in Alberta and British Columbia, and the high trails are in great shape. Recent weather has been cool, and snow on upper slopes is fresh and dry. Whistler (652m) is boasting record-breaking snow depths for this week, with an incredible 370cm of base at mid-mountain elevation. This time last year it was 185cm – still a very good number, but clearly this season has seen extraordinary snowfall. Next week’s skiing at Whistler will be best on Blackcomb Glacier, where top station elevation is 2,284m. Today the resort is offering 31 of 35 lifts for access to upper pistes, and skiers are looking forward to 25cm of fresh powder snow forecast over the next five days. The Canadian ski season will end in early May with conditions just about as good as when the season began in sensational style back in November. It really has been an epic season in Canada.

USA

Nine premier American resorts have continued to offer skiing in the past week, and conditions have been excellent. Next week’s options will be more limited, despite most resorts and many trails still holding deep snow cover. Great skiing will be on offer at Arapahoe Basin (3,300m) in Colorado, where today 7 of 8 lifts are operational and skiing is on groomed powder snow, with a base depth of 150cm at the top station elevation of 4,000m. The five-day forecast indicates 30cm of powder snowfall to come, and temperatures are cool for this time of year. The resort closes for the season after the first week of May.

Andorra

The ski season is now over for the resorts of the Grandvalira and the Vallnord domains, but Andorran resorts can reflect on an excellent winter, with conditions for many weeks of the season being considerably superior to those offered in many parts of the Alps. But now it is game over for skiers – full-suspension downhill mountain bikes and carbon road bikes are being prepared to take over the high pistes and routes of the Pyrenees.

Eastern Europe

The ski season is now over for the resorts of Eastern Europe. It was a winter of mixed fortunes for the region, with especially good snowfall recorded in Bosnia and Bulgaria, whilst Slovenia had very modest snowfall. Interestingly and very unusually in the past few days, there has been further very heavy snowfall in the Balkans with almost half a metre of snow reported at Jahornina near Sarajevo – but sadly, lifts will not re-open for skiers until next winter.

Scandinavia

The ski season continues well into May across Scandinavia, with Finland offering uplift until June. The week ahead looks promising for skiers in the region with unusually cool air and fresh snowfall in the forecast. In Finland the leading resorts are all open next week with healthy snow depths and dry snow conditions at all elevations. In Norway there is still excellent skiing at Geilo (800m) where today 20 of 21 lifts are operational and upper pistes, rising to 1,170m, hold 80cm of snow base. Salen in Sweden offers skiing to an elevation of just 890m, but pistes here hold 75cm of dry packed snow cover, and 84 of 88 lifts are turning across the large linked domain. Salen has 25cm of fresh dry snow in its five-day forecast.

Scotland

The Highlands quite often offer skiing into the month of May, but if it happens again it will be very unusual, as there has been almost no skiing at any of the five Scottish ski centres all winter. It really has been a disastrous ski season in Scotland but never say die – there is significant snowfall in the seven-day forecast, so there is still a chance uplift will turn again for skiers in Scotland this winter. Then again, it may not.

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