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When will Europe’s ski resorts open? Heavy snow means an early start to the season

Some slopes have reported over a metre of fresh snow in the last week, and more is on the way.
Some slopes have reported over a metre of fresh snow in the last week, and more is on the way. Copyright Joan Oger
Copyright Joan Oger
By Rebecca Ann Hughes
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Some slopes have reported over a metre of fresh snow in the last week, and more is on the way.

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Ski season is starting early in some places as resorts across Europe have welcomed bumper snowfall.

After persistently warm weather in October, the Alps saw chilly weather and heavy snow in the first weeks of November.

Some slopes reported over a metre of fresh snow early in the month, although recent bad weather has caused snow to melt at lower altitudes and seen heavy flooding. 

"There is no longer any snow below 1,500-1,700 metres of altitude and there has been a drop in snow cover in the 1,500-2,500m range", summarizes Gilles Brunot, responsible from Météo France in Chamonix. 

Other areas are enjoying an optimistic start to the season, however.

“Storms have been piling into the Alps for the last two weeks, with snow accumulations of more than 100cm quite widespread now on the upper slopes,” holiday company Ski Solutions' managing director Ian McIlrath told Travel Weekly.

“This will ensure a solid base for the winter ahead, and with a lot more snow in the forecast, it’s shaping up to be one of the best starts to the winter ski season that I can remember.”

The exceptional conditions have prompted a surge in bookings, according to the McIIrath.

Jet2.com has also launched a 10 per cent off sale on flights to some ski destinations including Chambery, Geneva, Grenoble and Salzburg over the winter.

When will Europe’s 2023 ski season start?

With snow lying thickly on the slopes and more to come, several ski resorts have brought forward their opening dates.

In France, big-name resorts Tignes and Val Thorens both announced they would open a week earlier than anticipated, on 18 November, to the delight of enthusiasts. 

“Everyone is waiting for this,” skier Heidi Gallay told AFP. She is originally from La Clusaz (Hautes-Alpes) where the slopes will not open until December. “I’m happy to be [at Val Thorens] to be able to enjoy the first snow,”

At Tignes, there are 1,300 metres of slopes available for skiing.

In Austria, Kitzbühel has opened two weeks early as well as Sölden, with 60 kilometres of vertical waiting for skiers.

In Switzerland, there are nine areas already open including big hitters Davos, Zermatt and Verbier, the latter of which opened three weeks early.

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Italy’s ski resorts have reported nearly one metre of snow in the last week and Madonna di Campiglio brought its opening day forward a week to 18 November.

Europe’s ski resorts hit by climate change

The bumper snowfall has been a much-needed blessing for Europe’s ski resorts, which have been suffering amid a warming climate.

Some ski centres at lower altitudes have been forced to close due to a lack of snow.

Recently, a resort overlooking Italy’s Lake Como became the focus of activists arguing the need to direct public investment into alternative mountain activities instead of saving low-lying slopes.

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