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How good was the skiing this season?

May 24th, 2011
Nick Ski Three Valleys

Nick Ski Three Valleys

With France Meteo saying the least snow in a generation and HAT (Henrys Avalanche Talk) saying the least snow since 1949…. Well, from 11th December until the beginning of April the 3 Valleys had at least 90% of pistes open but generally 95%.

What really happened?

As always we started to ski in November in Val Thorens and finished as planned 8th May. This season the snow and cold weather arrived about a month ahead of average and by the opening day of Courchevel 4th December and the 3 Valleys links there was far more snow than normal and what a great first day we had skiing back home to La Tania. Then, a huge temperature change with rain and very warm weather, you could almost see the snow melting in resort. However things picked up and the week of 11th December was fabulous with around 50cms at mid station and a few classic powder days. Then, on New Year week after some more snow the Grande Couloir opened the earliest I remember in 10 years. This indicated that we had a huge amount of snow base higher up as the steepest run in Europe is very rocky and normally opens at the end of January. We then had a medium powder day on Wednesday 12th January followed by rain up to around 2300 metres which put a crust on almost all the off piste. The pistes were pisted and we started to enjoy some fabulous piste skiing but the off piste was impossible to ski below around 2700mtrs, very cold and sunny days for week after week until the week of 19th February when the snow returned. By this time the pistes were becoming very hard packed, not icy though, but the best skiing was in the first couple of hours. The sunny slopes like Mur and the bottom of Marmottes started to close even though it was very cold the sun was melting these and similar facing pistes throughout the 3 Valleys. .

The season then seemed to be more normal with a few medium snowfalls which freshened the pistes and made the off piste much better but extremely dangerous on steeper slopes because the layers of snow had not and were not bonding.

So, March progressed and the final sting in the tail happened with temperatures reaching heights that had not been seen since the late 1800s. The snow then started to melt rapidly and many pistes were closing by the start of April. Folyeres kept going until 8th April and after then we were basically 2 weeks ahead of normal which would mean everywhere except Val Thorens would normally be closed. However, the outstanding work by the piste bashers continued to astound us and the Three Valleys links were kept open until Easter Monday with some downloading into Mottaret for the last week .

So, to sum it all up a season of extremes, generally cold and sunny season until the end of March and then very warm. Only a few snow falls after December but by then the base was well above average and helped tremendously by the snow making facilities and the skills of the piste basher drivers who took snow from everywhere possible at the sides of the pistes. Did we have fun? Of course what could be better than being in the mountains with lots and lots of sunny weeks. How about our guests? On a number of occasions when ski hosting the guests said it was one of their best days skiing ever. It was especially important to pick the best routes and pistes this season but there was lots and lots of fabulous skiing to be had. See you next season.

Many thanks to Nick Ski Three Valleys for this article.

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