Hoping for light snowfall in the New Year!
The best snow coverage is on N’ish facing slopes above 2300 m. Low-altitude French ski resorts continue to suffer badly from poor snow depths. High altitude ones, too, desperately need a top-up of fresh snow. We’re hopefully due for some light snow early next week and let’s hope so!
Off-piste snow report 29 December
It’s always fun off-piste and an adventure, even if the snow’s not always perfect. Conditions vary considerably from day to day depending on wind, temperature and sun. Venture out. You never know what you might find!
Wind often hinders the snow quality, but sometimes it actually helps. This week we’ve found patches of good soft wind-transported snow in sheltered spots and gullies. On more exposed slopes, though, the snow has often been ravaged and hardened by the wind.
Snow on warm sunny S facing slopes is usually extremely crusted, having been melted and humidified in the warm days and then refrozen overnight. At the moment, with the snow cover very hardened in places, there is a very real risk that you might not be able to stop sliding if you fall on a steep slope. It’s a time for caution and ‘no fall skiing’. If you’re ski touring, don’t forget your ski crampons if you’re going to be doing any icy traverses as you walk up.
There is still plenty of cohesionless ‘sugar snow’ or ‘gobelets’ around, particularly on high N’ish facing slopes. This will constitute an extremely dangerous layer when we receive any substantial amount of fresh snowfall landing on top of it (16 cm or so). Small areas of windslab at high altitude have been formed after recent strong NW winds, along with some persisting deeper old windslab from previous SE winds. There is a chance that a skier passing by could trigger some of this windslab, particularly with the cohesionless sugar snow and sometimes loose fresher snow that’s around. The avalanche danger rating is currently at a 2 over 2500 m, and a 1 below on the European scale of 5. Check out our website advice to see what the danger ratings are all about: www.henrysavalanchetalk.com/hat-advice/danger-rating/
Weather Forecast for the next few days
Thursday 29th December: A sunny day with only very light wind. Remaining mild for the time of season with maximum temperature 6° C at 2000 m.
Friday 30th: Sunny again. Slightly colder in the afternoon: 0° C at 2000 m, with a light NE to S wind. Possible gusts of Foehn/Lombard wind near the French/Italian border.
Saturday 31st & Sunday 1st January: Sunny again. Very light wind. Temperatures remaining the same.
Monday 2nd: Clouding over as the day goes on. Light snowfall down to low altitudes by late afternoon, continuing overnight. We hope anyway!
Tuesday 3rd & Wednesday 4th: Cold and windy! N wind may bring in some more light snow to exposed slopes.
Check out our on-line talks to learn more about having fun and being safe off piste: www.henrysavalanchetalk.com/training/the-essentials/
Meteo France are now publishing their official avalanche danger ratings – see them on www.meteofrance.com/previsions-meteo-montagne/bulletin-avalanches, entering the mountain area of your choice.