LATE-SEASON SNOW: WHERE TO GO
Saturday 12 February 2005
If you plan to travel over the early Easter break or afterwards, your best bet is to pick a resort with high altitude terrain. Ideally, find a centre with a glacier summer ski area to be doubly sure, with slopes that can be easily accessed by high-speed chair or gondola lift from the resort centre.
In France that means resorts like Val d'Isere or Tignes in the Espace Killy; Val Thorens in the Three Valleys or the Paradiski area above Les Arcs and La Plagne (pick one of the higher base villages). In Switzerland Davos, Verbier, St Moritz and Zermatt (pictured) are all safe bets. In Austria try Solden or the Tux or Stubai glaciers. Italy has Cervinia, from where you can ride one of the world's few cross-border chairlifts into Switzerland to access Zermatt's glacier skiing and there's more skiing above 3000 metres at Alagna in Monte Rosa, the Marmolada glacier near Arabba or at Cortina.
Scandinavia's ski areas have been investing heavily in new lifts and hotels in recent seasons, taking seriously the increasingly devastating effect of global warming in the Alps. The northerly latitude of Norway, Sweden and Finland's ski areas make them a better bet for snow surety through into May and it's a good time to visit for the long hours of daylight too (you can ski under the midnight sun in Riksgransen from late May). It's a good opportunity to go and check out Scandinavia's biggest lift, an eight-seater chair which opened this season at Norway's Hemsedal.
Closer to home there's also been a slow start to the season at Scotland's five ski areas so far too (not good news for the new owners of Glencoe and Glenshee), but consistently low temperatures have now enabled all to open at least some higher terrain.
In North America, the season to date has seen very mixed fortunes. Lake Tahoe has been feasting on vast powder falls and there's already talk of resorts like Squaw Valley staying open to 4 July for the Independence Day celebrations. Colorado and Utah are also having very good seasons, but be wary of booking April trips here as many of the big name resorts such as Telluride switch off the lifts early in the month (3 April is closing day there this year), even if the snow is 10ft deep with fresh powder falling.
A few hundred miles to the north however it's a very different picture on snowfall with the Pacific North West resorts of Washington state beleaguered by warm temperatures and rain, bringing conditions so disastrous for the state's pounds 5bn ski business that virtually all resorts are currently closed. The chances of a late season recovery are not good. Further north in Canada, however, Jasper and Banff are both enjoying above-average falls.
Alagna: 00 39 0163 922988, www.alagna.it
Arabba: 00 39 0436 79130; www.marmolada.com
Banff: 001 403 762 6500; www.skibanff.com
Cervinia: 00 39 0166 949136, www.cervinia.it
Cortina: 00 39 0436 3231, www.cortina.dolomiti.org
Davos: 00 41 81 415 2121; www.davos.ch
Hemsedal: 00 47 32 055030, www.hemsedal.com
Jasper: 001 780 852 3816, www.skimarmot.com
La Plagne: 00 33 479 097979, www.la-plagne.com;
Les Arcs: 00 33 479 071257, www.lesarcs.com
Riksgransen: 00 46 980 40080, www.riksgransen.nu
St Moritz: 00 41 81 837 3333, www.stmoritz.ch
Scotland: 0845 22 55 121, ski.visitscotland.com
Solden: 00 43 5254 22120, www.soelden.com
Stubai: 00 43 5226 8141, www.stubai-gletscher.com
Telluride: 001 970 728 6900, www.telluride.com
Tignes: 00 33 479 400440, www.tignes.net
Tux: 00 44 5287 606, www.tux.at
Val d'Isere: 00 33 479 060660, www.valdisere.com
Val Thorens: 00 33 479 000808, www.valthorens.com
Verbier: 00 41 27 775 3888, www.verbier.ch
Zermatt: 00 41 27 966 8100, www.zermatt.ch
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