A varied week of weather in the N French Alps. After colder temperatures and snowfall on Sunday, Monday will be sunny and milder with a Southerly weather system coming through. Snow showers at high altitude throughout the rest of the week.

Snow conditions in N French Alps will be very variable this week, with mild temperatures, intermittent rain or snow showers. Even just sprinklings of fresh snow will make a nice cushion to ski on.

Best snow coverage remains in the higher altitude resorts, particularly over 2200 m. Unfortunately, lower and mid-altitude resorts are really suffering from lack of snow, and their piste grooming teams are working very hard to ensure skiing for their customers.

Avalanche Bulletin

For most areas in the N French Alps the current avalanche danger level is around a ‘limited’ 2 out of 5. Slopes below 2000 m are often even down to a ‘low’ 1 out of 5.

There are plenty of glide cracks around. They’re not much threat to the off-piste skier who’s just quickly traversing under them, but you certainly wouldn’t want to linger around there. See this previous blog for more info about glide cracks or ‘brown frowns’ as they’re sometimes called.

Glide cracks are very problematic for piste patrol services and weather forecasters. It’s notoriously difficult to predict whether or not they’ll release, and virtually impossible to trigger them artificially. They can release large quantities of snow if they do go …. but often do nothing other than look ominous!! If a glide crack presents above a piste in a narrow gulley, that piste will often be closed to skiers as the day warms up, just in case….  One did release onto a piste in Les Arcs a few days ago (see this report by Data Avalanche).

Many glide cracks around at the moment – photo by Wayne Watson.

The vast majority of avalanche accidents involve cold, dry slab avalanches. They’re almost always triggered by the victim (or someone in their group) on with the vast majority on N’ish facing slopes (in the Northern Hemisphere) during December, January and February.

Weather forecast : Mon 25th to Fri 29th March thanks to Météo Alpes

A varied week in the mountains this week, with a Southerly weather system dominating. A sunny Monday. The rest of the week will be a mixture of showers and bright spells.

MON 25th: Following a cold Sunday (which saw a 10 cm sprinkling or so of fresh snow above 1800 m), Monday will soon clear up to be a beautiful sunny, spring-like day. Starting cold (-5° C at 1500 m) but warming up quickly, to 0° C at 2600 m. Weak to moderate S wind. Clouding over during the night.

TUES 26th: Unsettled weather. The high mountains near the French/Italian border will be socked in with thick cloud, with snowfall on the mountain peaks. Light to moderate SE wind.

WED 27th & THURS 28th: Morning snow showers for all areas from around 1400 m. Drying up in the afternoon and fairly mild for the time of season.

FRI 30th and the next few days: Continuing the same, with S’ish winds.


6 day forecast for Avoriaz c/o Snow-forecast.com

Tip of the Week

Sun Shadow Slope Orientation

Since I so often talk about N’ish facing slopes (the vast majority of avalanche accidents happen on the North’sh side of the mountain – cold, dry slab avalanches triggered by the victim), and due to popular demand, I am posting this TOP TIP on using shadows to identify slope aspects (below). Also when any fresh snowfall arrives (as is forecast for the end of this week), high N’ish facing slopes are where the danger/sensitivity to triggers will be most prevalent.


1. To help you keep things acceptably safe off-piste and ski touring, I’m currently working on a pre-recorded online ‘Essentials Talk’. Here’s a sneak- peek draft: a ‘staff talk version’ of the Essential Talk, featuring an accident Prevention Framework, which I’m making available free of charge for a couple of weeks on my YouTube channel.

If  you find it useful, please subscribe to this channel. There are lots of other cool vids in there too! Thanks again to Jérôme for the cover photo.

2. ‘Pocket Memory Aid Pack’ (for help applying the key safety points in the Essentials Talk Framework).
Education and training is not enough. So we need simplified ‘tools’ or aids to help you remember and apply the key safety points. It’s a small investment to help to keep you to understand and reduce risk and is a much appreciated contribution to our ‘Safety is Freedom’ cause!

Safety is Freedom!