Ski news: Hot topics on the slopes

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The Independent Travel

Snow sure in California

La Niña, the weather system responsible for flooding around the Pacific, has also brought excess precipitation to California. Mammoth Mountain has had over 8m of snow, with over 5m of it falling in December. According to skiinfo.co.uk, it currently tops the world snow depth table with 5.7m. It will be celebrated at the 30th Annual Snowfest ( tahoesnowfestival.com) from 4 to 13 March.

Ski Independence (0131 243 8097; ski-i.com) has a week at the Iron Horse Lodge in Northstar from £1,099 per person including flights and SUV rental.

The mystery chalet

Spectacular last-minute deals are now being offered by some operators as they try to regain ground after what is being described as a "challenging" Christmas and New Year sales period. Closed airports, rising VAT and fuel costs, and Christmas and New Year falling on the traditional Saturday change-over day have all had an adverse effect on bookings. Mountain Heaven (0151 625 1921; mountainheaven.co.uk) has come up with a concept from the package holiday to help fill its chalets. The Mystery Chalet deal can be booked on the Monday before departure. You get a week in a fully catered chalet for £199 per person (travel extra). You find out the precise chalet in France or Switzerland later in the week.

"Whatever happens, guests will get great food and wine and some will end up in the premium chalets including The Penthouse in La Rosière," says director Nick Williams.

Book now for next winter

If you're ready to forget this winter already, why not book your winter 2011/12 trip now? Crystal (0871 231 5655; crystalski.co.uk) and its sister company, Thomson (0870 888 0254; thomsonski.co.uk), have already launched 2011/12 programmes with deals including free childcare and "two for one" on either rentals or air carriage of ski gear. Book by 31 May.

Royal escape to the slopes

Spring sees a swathe of concerts in the mountains and one of the biggest is in Austria's Ischgl (0043 5444 100; ischgl.com), where The Killers will follow in the footsteps of Elton John and Kylie Minogue and headlining the season-closing Top of the Mountain concert on 30 April. With an extra holiday to mark the Royal Wedding on 29 April and Monday 2 May a bank holiday too, you can take a long weekend here without taking time off work. Four nights' bed and breakfast with a three-day lift pass costs from €330 per person; incoming@paznaunischgl.com for availability.

Help for DIY skiers

A new site offering what it claims to be the UK's first dedicated ski accommodation booking service has just launched, initially offering properties in France, Austria and Switzerland. Part of the Osprey Holidays group, PowderBeds.com delivers deals for any duration. "We saw the need for a dedicated ski site focused solely on providing accommodation for skiers building their own packages," says director Michael Bennett.

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