First snow

The state of the slopes...

On this day a year ago nerves were building as Europe enjoyed one of its warmest ever autumns. This November, thankfully, is much more "normal". If anything (although we mustn't get too excited yet) snowfall is above average across Europe and there's deep fresh snow at the few dozen ski resorts already open (mostly high-altitude Alpine glacier resorts or high-latitude Scandinavian centres).

Snow has been falling consistently on the peaks for more than a month now. Pitztal ( in Austria, which opened in mid-September, has received two metres of snow so far, the latest 30cm in the past week. Hintertux ( has one of the biggest areas open – 50km of piste with a 1,150m vertical. Snowlines have been dropping too, reaching Chamonix ( resort level down at 1,035m on Tuesday. The heavy snow on the slopes above looks promising for opening day on 8 December. Verbier ( couldn't wait and opened early last week on 2 November.

Things look good across the Atlantic too. British favourites Lake Louise in Canada ( and Breckenridge in Colorado ( opened yesterday, joining a dozen areas already open thanks to good early snow.