Off Piste Snow report & Weather: 1 – 7 Feb Savoie / N. French Alps


Some small top-ups of fresh snow!

Off-piste snow report: 1 – 7 Feb for Savoie & Northern French Alps

Off Piste Snow & Weather: 1 - 7 Feb Savoie / N. French Alps

Stable conditions: Been able to ski the steeps. Andreas Bjorklund photo. Alpine Experience.

Snow depths remain very impressive for the time of year, and there are some great off-piste conditions out there, if you walk for them!

Off-piste areas easily accessed from the lift system have rapidly become tracked out. By doing a bit of boot packing, plus using touring skis and skins, we’ve been able to go a bit further afield and find the better snow. By getting away from the tracked out stuff, there are some great off-piste conditions to be found.

But as we write this on Thursday morning we have already had 20cm of fresh snow and are expecting another 15cm today. So the situation will change.

Snow stability is currently very good, thanks to humidification of the snowpack and overnight refreezing. The layers are now well consolidated, and we’ve been able to tackle many of the steeper slopes that we sometimes need to be wary of. The avalanche risk is currently around a 2 on the European scale of 5, and is not forecast to rise much above that even with the fresh snow.

See what the avalanche danger ratings mean on henrysavalanchetalk.com/hat-advice/danger-rating.

These smallish quantities should not affect the avalanche risk very much. The main risk to the skier is currently on steep N’ish facing slopes, where large accumulations of fresh snow could be forming. There is also a risk of sliding in areas where the snow has become very compacted.

There are plenty of ‘glide cracks’ around. Quite a few have released into avalanches/slides. They often release later in the day, when it’s been warm and sunny, but equally can happen at night time or even in cold weather! Glide cracks look alarming, but do not actually present much danger to the off-piste skier, provided we don’t linger underneath one for long! They are unpredictable and release naturally (if they release at all). Contrary to common belief, they’re not triggered by skiers passing near them. Glide crack avalanches are virtually impossible both to control and to predict. When they appear above a ski run, the piste patrol services often have to close the run, as temperatures rise.

The weather is predicted to be much colder right across Europe next week, we will notice this in the mountains and this will prevent the glide cracks from getting worse.

Detailed weather forecast for 1 – 7 Feb

Off Piste Snow & Weather: 1 - 7 Feb Savoie / N. French Alps

Adventuring off piste. Wayne Watson photo

Thursday 1st: Some overnight snowfall (20 to 35 cm at 2000 m). It will continue snowing at altitudes above 1000 m in the morning,  clearing up in the afternoon. 10 to 20 cm fresh snow expected at altitudes around 1500 m. Temperatures down to 0° C at 1100 m and -10° C at 2300 m. W to SW wind, 40 – 60 km/hr at 2500 m, and at 4000 m : SW wind, 80 – 100 km/hr, dropping to 50 km/hr.

Friday 2nd:  A cold sunny day in the mountains. 0° C at 800 m. Clouding over during the night, with possible very light snowfall (no more than 5 cm). N wind, 20 – 30 km/hr.

Saturday 3rd: A cloudy day with more light snowfall down to low altitudes during the morning (again, less than 5 cm). 0° C at 600 m. N wind 30 – 40 km/hr on the mountain tops.

Sunday 4th & Monday 5th: Mixture of cloud and bright spells. Possibly some light snow flurries, but probably not amounting to much. Temperatures slightly below seasonal norms.

Tuesday 6th & Wednesday 7th: Sunny and cold in the mountains, with excellent overnight refreezes.

Tip of the week

Look out for recent avalanche activity, see which slopes are releasing and how much snow is involved. Observe the glide cracks.

As snow and weather conditions evolve, keep an eye on our HAT Facebook updates for info on latest snow stability.

Check the danger rating on the avalanche risk bulletin for your area.