Travel: Blanket response from skiers after heavy falls

SNOW CONDITIONS in most of the Alps are almost perfect now after the massive falls of last weekend, writes Jeremy Atiyah. Anecdotal evidence has it that some resorts had not seen a snowfall like it for 10, 20 or even 30 years. The snow even reached as far as the Mediterranean, where tourists in Majorca were surprised to wake up to six inches of it.

"It's very rare for so much snow to fall in such a short space of time," said a spokeswoman for the Austrian tourist board. "In St Anton there was a metre and a half in just a couple of days, while Lech was completely cut off."

The story from the Swiss tourist board is the same:

"We had huge falls all over Switzerland," they told me. "Engelberg was a complete wipe-out. Snow is very deep even at village-level. A few years ago conditions like these would not have seemed so abnormal, but this year we had hardly seen any snow at all until now."

"In Chamonix, in the French Alps, the guides told me that they hadn't seen anything like it," said Nick Seed of the ski-tour firm White Roc. "Right now it is still very cold but dry, with excellent powder and wind- crusted snow."

"The pistes were pure powder," I was told by another skier just back from Chamonix. "Even the guides kept disappearing into the snow and having to be hauled out again. In fact, these conditions can be very dangerous - several people have been killed by being caught in avalanches or simply getting stuck in the very deep snow."

Other than that, with persistent low temperatures, skiing conditions look set extremely fair for at least the next two months.

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