EASTER skiers typically are families, teachers and school parties who are tied to fixed holiday dates and must plan and book ahead. But is there anything to tempt the rest of us to the mountains for a final fling?

You do not have much time, at least if you intend to take a package. Most of the high, snow-sure resorts will be open until the first weekend in May; and, of course, at resorts such as Val d'Isere and Saas Fee, glacier skiing goes on into the summer. But tour-operator departures mainly come to a halt after 17-18 April, and for a fortnight's holiday you may be limited to the next two weekends.

To some extent, tour-operator programmes are tailored to the likely conditions in different resorts. Many departures for low-lying Austrian resorts end today, while Bladon Lines flies to Val d'Isere on 25 April.

Snow conditions as the end of the season approaches are not bad - if you go high. Low-lying resorts would, in any circumstances, expect snow cover to be getting thin in the late March sun, but this year they have suffered from rain in January, too. Some new snow has fallen this week, but it was too little, too late to do much good. There must be a good chance of more heavy snow at altitude before winter can be regarded as truly over. But do not count on it arriving before Easter.

So, high-altitude skiing conditions look good enough. But are there any holidays to buy? And are there any special deals? We asked a cross-section of operators; the results appear below.

Special offers are most widely offered by chalet operators, who are fully committed to their accommodation for the full season. Unsold hotel rooms are often handed back to the hotel a month or two before departure.

Some deals may have been snapped up before you finish reading this sentence. One good way to find out about availability and special deals is to telephone a travel agency that specialises in skiing, such as Ski Solutions (081-944 1155) or Skiers Travel Bureau (0532 666876).

Bladon Lines (081-785 3131) was sold out for the pre-Easter week, except for a budget chalet in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. For Easter week (when prices are at their peak) it has space in late-snow resorts such as Val, Tignes and Zermatt, and special offers on chalets in Verbier (pounds 259) and Meribel (pounds 349).

Crystal (081-399 5144) has chalets available for pre-Easter and Easter weeks in late-snow resorts such as Chamonix, Saas Fee, La Plagne and Val-Tignes. Its best bet for an Austrian hotel holiday would be Obertauern at 1,740m. Crystal's special late deals are of the blind-date variety - either an unnamed resort or (pounds 40 more) unnamed accommodation in a named resort. French catered chalets start at pounds 299, B & B chalets at pounds 239.

Ski Esprit (0252 616789) has space in Verbier pre-Easter, but no flights. For Easter week it has quite a few options available, including flights.

Flexi Ski (071-352 0044) has little left, but could arrange flights and hotels for an Easter break, midweek to midweek.

Fresh Tracks (081-335 3003) has space on an Easter weekend for experts in La Grave.

Le Ski (0484 548996) has pre-Easter and Easter week, and Val d'Isere for Easter week for pounds 299.

Lotus Supertravel (071-962 9933) has reduced prices (down to pounds 289) in Val d'Isere, Courchevel and Meribel, in both weeks.

Mark Warner (071-938 1851) has pre-Easter holidays at pounds 100 off brochure price in all resorts except Val d'Isere and Courmayeur; discounts for Easter week were not known when we inquired but should be by now.

Meriski (081-682 3383) has space in each week, with pre-Easter holidays down to pounds 249 and Easter to pounds 279.

Ski Olympic (0302 390120) offers up to pounds 95 off holidays in chalets and jumbo chalets in several resorts, including Val d'Isere, pre-Easter and Easter weeks.

Ski Scott Dunn (081-767 0202) has space in its chalet-apartments in Zermatt for pounds 399.

Ski-Tal (081-398 9861) has reductions on holidays in St-Martin-de-Belleville (Trois Vallees) pre-Easter and Montalbert (La Plagne) and Peisey-Nancroix (Les Arcs) at Easter.

Ski West (0255 444516) has just two rooms in Courchevel pre-Easter but some availability in all of its resorts for Easter, with reduced prices likely.

YSE (081-871 5117) has little left pre-Easter, but expects to offer reductions for Easter week.

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