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Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors
Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors
Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors
Ski guiding in Meribel France with British ski instructors

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Early Winter Snow Conditions

Posted on
December 3, 2019

Hi everybody and welcome to another post from your favourite blogging Méribel ski instructor! I've gradually settled into the winter way of life, having arrived back in resort at the beginning of last week. Much running around in circles has taken place, but also the all-important first few skiing turns of the winter. The valley floor is hanging on to autumn for dear life (see above), and higher up the mountain it can't decide whether to stick with autumn, or be full on in your face WINTER. How has it morphed together? We've had both seasons in Méribel Town with a fair bit of rain, and also plenty of fresh snow (at the weekend); more on this later.

Les Deux Lacs, Val Thorens

I picked up my lift pass from the ESF ski school last week, which meant that I could drive around to Val Thorens and put it to use. Last Friday I popped over there. The weather was ok, but what was the snow like? I have to say that I was very impressed: it was lovely. Usually I'd expect to ski on quite firm pistes at this time of year, due to the artificial snow. This 'cultured' snow, as the French call it, is essential to create a decent base. Then we have the foundation of snow cover for the remainder of the winter.

Chalet de la Marine, Val Thorens

I could see signs that the resort had been using the snow cannons to create man-made snow. However, it didn't feel like it because there was so much of the fresh stuff on top. Remember I said that it had rained a fair bit at resort level in Méribel Town (1,500 metres)? This rain would've been snow over in Val Thorens, between the altitude of 2,200 metres and 3,000 metres. The skiing was fantastic and it was a great return to the sport. In summary - no rocks on the piste, no firm artificial snow (that I came across). It was lush.

The following day was the opening of Espace Killy, ie Val d'Isere and Tignes. I couldn't resist jumping in the car again for a change of scenery.

Tignes Le Lac

The sun came out, something that I hadn't seen for several days, and what a treat. Blue skies, perfect snow conditions and fresh legs - it doesn't get better than that. Espace Killy had definitely benefitted from the same storms that we had experienced here in the 3 Valleys. It was just as good over there; very similar to Val Thorens. This time I skied between altitudes of 1,800 metres and 3,100 metres. The snow cover was excellent, but the lower slopes had the firmer artificial snow feel to them. Remember this base is essential for the health of the pistes later in the season. In addition, this base is also essential for the popular Festive Period in just a few weeks' time. It's really important for the resort to offer open pistes for this period, and even more important for those of you who have booked their precious ski holiday. The skiing again, was lush.

The shrinking Grande Motte Glacier, towering over Tignes.

The following day another storm rolled across the Alps. I hunkered down in the apartment and waited for it to pass through. The centre of Méribel is at an altitude of 1,500 metres and we had at least 30 cms of fresh snow here in resort. Imagine how much fell in Val Thorens, Tignes, or even the top half of Méribel? Bucket loads I reckon. That firm artificial snow I mentioned a moment ago would've been covered by this latest storm.

Earlier today I grabbed my touring skis in order to skin (walk) up the mountain above Méribel and see what was happening........

Artificial snow mounds on the Blanchot (Altiport) piste.
A ski tourer's uphill track.

It was great to see how much snow there was on the mountain, and also to witness how busy the resort is. All to get ready for Saturday's lift opening day.

How much snow?

I was starting to develop a nasty rub/blister on my right heel, so decided to stop climbing and take a glug of water and munch on a flapjack. But it was tricky pulling myself away from this view; there was total silence except for the odd rumble of a distant piste basher. During the winter, the only time it would be this quiet is if you are miles off-piste, and far enough away from the Folie Douce! However, time had come to slide back down the mountain. Oh, how good was the snow?

My 'freshies'  

It's not often you get the whole mountain to yourself. Apart from the three other people I saw!?!

Where does this leave us in terms having a great season? That of course is way too early to tell, especially because we have only just entered into December. However this winter really has had a rather good start as you can see, and if you are planning on coming to the French Alps over the Festive Period, you can relax about whether there will be snow or not. There is plenty of the natural stuff, and the resort is working really hard to create the base on the pistes that have snow cannon coverage. In a few days' time Méribel, Les Menuires and Courchevel open their lifts for the winter. I can't wait, because I already know how good the snow is. It's lush.

Live With Passion, Martin.

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With our skills- based system of learning, we give you the tools to safely negotiate any demands the mountains make on you, helping you to increase your comfort zone and ski in a wider range of conditions. Whether you are a nervous novice, a blue piste cruiser or an all mountain adventurer, we tailor your ski lessons to create a perfect fit. The question is, which one are you?

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