Lucky us to have gotten snow relatively early this year all the way down to the valley floors. The skiing was deep this early December. The avalanche danger was a high 3 because the layer on the ground had turned to facets. This is not an unusual situation. It happens when we get early snow in the autumn then cold, dry weather afterwards. Because the ground is relatively warm, around -.1, and the air is cold, -15 in the alpine areas, this shallow layer of snow grows into faceted crystals that can’t support the weight of new snow. As the winter progresses, it gets covers with new lawyers of snow which eventually bond to each other and create a bridge over this weak ground layer. When we have a lot of snow, this bridge insulates our impact on this weak layer. So you’ll understand what the avalanche forecasters have been writing about these past two weeks:
These avalanche prone locations are to be found especially in little used terrain and at transitions from a shallow to a deep snowpack.
The WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF today
The weather forecast calls for sunny weather for another week, then possibly more snow and higher temperatures.
The snow is slowly accumulating at the upper and lower elevations around Verbier. What fun it is to again glide over the ground as if we’re flying. We skied mid December further to the east around the Furka Pass and Andermatt to get into the deep snow. Though the conditions here, for the moment, on steep, north aspects, in high alpine terrain is still too weak to safely ski, there are still lots of other fun places to have fun skiing. The warm weather last week has helped create a base below 2400 meters on which this new snow is accumulating.
Here are a few shots from last week. Wishing you all a very fine New Year!
There was deep powder and glorious sunshine over the Christmas holidays. How nice for everyone who came. And came they did! It was very, very busy in town. Then everyone left and all the obvious off-piste was done! Skied! Tracked!
It’s been a month since our last snowfall. So finding fresh tracks is super rewarding. I’ve been guiding freeride skiing every day, finding nice stashes of powder low in the forests and deep in the shady couloirs. We’ve been going high into the mountains for great adventure too. With the avalanche risk so low, one can ski really steep terrain now.
I made another little video of Chris and I skiing a local couloir. Thanks for the footage of me Chris! And it has just snowed 15-30 cm in this part of the Alps, so we are back to a bit of fresh powder skiing!
You’ve got to love these Alpine ski areas in Switzerland, France and Italy for the super quick access to the wonderful Freeride Skiing terrain! Using the lifts and modern freeride skis, mounted with light ski touring bindings, one is quickly into the virgin powder.
Yesterday, we took the lift to Attelas, then toured on from there, quickly getting into some real nice powder for a couple of good runs. It’s still relatively thin, so one needs to be real careful not whack into the rocks hidden below. I put the 3-axis gimbal on again to get a little video of Gilles floating…