A few snow showers coming through on Monday – starting later in the day – off and on through Tuesday and into the wee hours of the morning Wednesday, bringing up to 20-40 cm of fresh snow at around  2000 m in much of the N French Alps and surrounding areas. Calm and sunny from end of day Wednesday onwards with temperatures mild for this time of season.

Off-piste snow depths are great above 2000 m or so, indeed still above average for the time of season. You can currently ski down to around 1500 m off-piste, but not really much below 1300 m. There continue to be some great conditions at higher altitudes.

There are currently a mixture of snow conditions, with some really nice cold powder to be found on sheltered N facing slopes. Particularly near the French/Italian border the wind has played a huge role blowing the snow around the mountain, causing some major snow drifting, sometimes scouring the snow off altogether, and at other times exposing ice and rocks underneath the surface. At times the snow has become very dense and crusty due to the wind, making for some ‘educational’ skiing (to put it politely!).


Avalanche Bulletin

Avalanche danger ratings 22 Jan 2024 c/o Météo France

The current avalanche danger level at the time of this writing is between level 2 – 3 out of 5 on the European scale. It is forecast to go up to a 3 with the new precipitation and wind. The colder more N’ish facing slopes above 2000 m are more likely to show an avalanche danger level of 3, while slopes below 2000 m are becoming more stable, due to melting and refreezing.

Any avalanche activity this coming week is going to be directly related to new storms (snowfall and wind) coming through at the beginning of the week. This instability will be most acute within the 24 to 36 hours after the snowfalls. Within a day or 2 of the storms, things should settle down though.

We suspect that towards the end of the week the avalanche danger will have decreased back down to a 2 out of 5, and maybe even to a 1 at lower altitudes.

Transceiver training afternoons

We can never overstress the importance of practising with your avalanche safety equipment if you’re going to be skiing off-piste.

I’ll be running avalanche transceiver training sessions every Monday afternoon, starting next Monday (29th Jan) on the lower slopes of La Daille, Val d’Isère.  It comes with easy access and parking and no need to buy a ski pass (there is even a free shuttle bus back to Tignes)! Sessions are 75 euro/person and will run from 2 to 4.30 pm. Everyone who attends gets a ‘HAT Safety Pack’ (see this week’s Top Tip below for a description).

I’m working on doing more of these transceiver training sessions in other resorts.  And we do them in the UK too, mainly during the Autumn. See this link.

Please email hat@henrysavalanchetalk.com to sign up, or see Louise at the ski school desk in Jean Sports, Val d’Isère, any evening between 5 and 7 pm.

Weather forecast : Mon 22nd to Sat 27th Jan

MON 22nd: A fairly bright start to the morning with some high cloud. The cloud will thicken as the day goes on. Light snowfall down to 2000 m at first, but with the snow/rain limit dropping to 1300 m by late afternoon. It will carry on snowing very lightly until about midnight or so. Possibly 15 cm of fresh snowfall above 2500 m, up to 10 cm at 2000 m, and up to 5 cm at 1300 m. Light to moderate W to NW wind. Maximum temperature 0°C at 2700 m, dropping to 1600 m.

TUES 23rd:  A mixture of cloud and some sunshine in the morning. Cloud thickening up in the afternoon with a few snowflakes possibly coming down at high altitudes above 2400 m or so (rain at lower altitudes). Light to moderate NW wind, more noticeable at higher altitudes.

WED 24th: Sun and cloud. Light to moderate NW wind. 0° C at 3000 m, so very mild for the time of season.

THIRS 25th: Sunny and very mild for the time of season in the afternoon.

FRI 26th & SAT 27th: Sunny, calm and very mild for the time of season.

FOLLOWING FEW DAYS: Calm, dry  and sunny.

Tip of the Week

  • To keep things as safe as possible when you’re heading off-piste or ski touring, you need to apply the key safety points in our Accident Framework. Education and training is not enough : you need to apply what you know!

The Framework, which you can find in our HAT Prevention Pocket Guide, is designed to help you apply what you know. It’s a great complement to all training (and aimed at all off-piste and ski touring levels). Now available as a ‘HAT Safety Pack’, which also includes our Companion Rescue Card. The Safety Pack can be bought on our website.

  • Your essential partner rescue equipment is only useful if you know how to use it!

If you’re in Val d’Isère or Tignes come to one of our Monday afternoon avalanche transceiver training sessions (2 – 4.30 pm). See info above.  Email hat@henrysavalanchetalk.com to sign up, or see Louise/Suzanne at the Alpine Experience desk in Jean Sports, Val d’Isère, any evening between 5 and 7 pm to book a space.

Safety is Freedom!