Sunny weather and relatively high temperatures throughout the Alps. This should continue throughout most of next week too. Fresh snowfall may hopefully arrive at the end of next week.
Skiing is a mixed bag of conditions, with some very crusted snow which has been affected by the higher than normal temps and wind, plus some great light powder snow in shaded / sheltered areas. Touring will start to become more necessary as the resorts gets more tracked out.
See the video in this article for more.
What is the current avalanche danger level in the Northern French Alps/Savoie?
The current avalanche danger level is 3 from about 2200m and 2 below. The 2 level will become more dominant while high North facing slopes have maintained the presence of a fairly persistent weak layer close to the ground which could facilitate triggering of a slab avalanche. Exercise care around steep North’ish facing slopes as this danger will continue to be there – however unlikely the chances of triggering are – the consequences could be very serious. In terms of applying care, the Accident Reduction Card shown in this article and video is designed to help apply the basic points that help to make off-piste and touring reasonably safe – an acceptable risk. You can access a version on the HAT web site under ‘HAT Advice’.
Where is most at risk at the moment?
High steep North’ish facing slopes in the shade. Here is where the best quality of snow for skiing can be found. The temperature of snow at the surface can get down to -10/-15° C, especially during clear nights, which is sometimes difficult to take on board when the air temperatures, even at 2500 m, are around 0° C at night (as they currently are). Although these cold snow temps are contributing to the quality of snow on these shaded north’ish facing slopes, there is also a lingering localised instability here as explained in the video in this article.
How does the forecast look for the coming week?
Beautifully sunny and relatively warm for the time of season – 0° C at 3000 m or so. Getting slightly cooler from Wed onwards. Snowfall expected around the end of the week. Fingers crossed, Santa!
Fri 17th: Mostly sunny with relatively warm temperatures : 0° C at 3000 m. A clear starry night. Light E’ish winds (occasionally gusting 40-60 km at 3700 m).
Sat 18th: Remaining sunny in the mountains. 0° C at 3200 m. Quite strong E to NE winds at high altitudes in the morning. Touch of Foehn and Lombarde winds too.
Sun 19th, Mon 20th: Continuing the same as Saturday.
Tues 21st: Remaining sunny, but lower temps: 0° C at 1700 m.
Wed 22nd & Thurs 23rd: Still sunny, with temperatures lower than at the start of the week.
Snowfall expected to arrive around Fri 24th or Sat 25th.
Tip of the week
- Exercise caution on the cold steep north’ish facing slopes. These are the slopes where the best quality skiing snow is to be found, but also where there’s a lingering instability in the snowpack.
- Apply the basic accident reduction points in our Safety is Freedom Framework to stay safe and get the best out of the mountain.
There’s a long list of evidence that shows how applying simple frameworks, checklists and memory aids reduce risk in ‘high consequence, low feedback’ risk contexts prevalent in: aviation, military, finance, health care, avalanche terrain etc.
See our HAT quick reference ‘Safety is Freedom Framework’ for accident reduction in avalanche terrain. The Framework is aimed at all levels of off-piste and touring: for beginners: a point of departure; for experts: a guide for further learning; for pros: it’s a great framework for client training and quick memory aid.
The Framework is best if accompanied by training such as HAT events and on-snow courses, but it’s also a useful companion for all training as it focuses on the basic key points that all avalanche training courses address – it helps you to keep focused on the essential accident reduction points.