The death of the ski season has been greatly exaggerated.
I have just returned from a snowboarding trip to the resort of Val D’Isere in the French Alps and can happily report that the winter season is alive and kicking there – with plenty of snow from top to bottom.
I was in the ski resort of Les Arcs, to the north, the week before and enjoyed similarly good conditions.
I arrived in Val D’Isere – which together with neighbouring Tignes, offers 300km (186 miles) of slopes – on Friday (January 6) to the joyful sight of snow-covered chalet roofs in the village, which lies at an altitude of 1,850 metres (6,069ft).
Ted Thornhill has just returned from Val D’Isere in France, where he discovered superb snow coverage. The image above is a still from a video clip he shot from a chairlift in Val D’Isere on Saturday, January 7
I was staying in the uber-luxury Chalet Blackcomb, operated by Consensio, and once I’d prised myself away from its cosy interiors the following day enjoyed a superb morning’s snowboarding with brilliant guide Antoine from the Oxygene Ski & Snowboard School.
The pistes were well-groomed, with lots of soft patches of snow to turn on. (And, as is the way with us snowboarders – to sit on.)
Lots of Alpine resorts have been struggling with poor conditions this year, as we’ve reported, but Val D’Isere was most definitely in good nick.
And it got better.
On Sunday (January 8), we breakfasted as snow began falling – and by the time we reached mid-mountain, it was practically a white-out. Lower down, a picture-postcard winter scene awaited. I even found a few small stretches of fresh powder to glide along at the edges of the piste.
Ted describes Val D’Isere as having ‘picture-postcard winter scenes’ during his recent trip
Ted’s ‘brilliant’ guide Antoine (right) from the Oxygene Ski & Snowboard School in Val D’Isere. Pictured left is Helen, one of his group
Ted took this picture in Val D’Isere on Sunday, January 8. Winter is coming? It’s already here
Ted in Les Arcs, which he visited in December/January
In Les Arcs – between Tuesday, December 27, and Monday, January 2 – I stayed at the impressive VIP Ski property Bear Lodge hotel in Arc 1950.
It was billed as ski in/ski out – and that’s exactly what was possible.
I’ve seen better conditions in Les Arcs – the snow was a tad heavy on lower slopes – but further up the mountain, the pistes were in great shape.
Will the good conditions continue?
It’s looking hopeful for Val D’Isere and Les Arcs – and resorts elsewhere in the Alps.
Val D’Isere is due 24cm of snow at mid-mountain level – 2,700m/8,858ft – today (Monday) and another 8cm on Wednesday, with temperatures ranging between -1C and -11C.
Ted describes the pistes in Les Arcs (above, during his trip) as being ‘in great shape’
Ted stayed at the ‘impressive’ Bear Lodge hotel in Arc 1950 (right). He writes: ‘It was billed as ski in/ski out – and that’s exactly what was possible’
Les Arcs is due 33cm of snow today at mid-mountain level – 2,390m/7,841ft – and 12cm of snow on Wednesday, with temperatures ranging between -1C and -9C.
Fresh snow is also due in the next six days, according to Ski Club UK, in French resorts including Avoriaz, Courchevel, Flaine and Les Deux Alpes; Austrian resorts including Kitzbuhel, Mayrhofen and St Anton; Italian resorts including Cervinia, Cortina and Courmayeur; Swiss resorts including Davos, Grindelwald and Zermatt; and in the Spanish resort of Baqueira.
Full reviews of Bear Lodge hotel and Chalet Blackcomb to come.