So where is a good place to go on off-piste skiing holiday in the early winter season? It depends on the year of course, but this December was pretty normal in the Alps and the off-piste skiing has been good in Courmayeur, Chamonix and St Anton in December. Christmas skiing in St Anton is often a good bet thanks to the configuration of the terrain, grassy slopes rather then rocky moraines.
On Grands Montets in Chamonix, as in many ski resorts all over the Alps, the 21 of December was a big powder day! In Chamonix we got 30cm of snow the previous night and quite a bit of wind, so plenty of snow in the big bowls and bare rock on the wind exposed ridges. However the ground on Grands Montets consists of big boulders and the off-piste sharks are only just buried.
The snow fall brought milder temperatures compared to the previous record-cold days with around -25 degree celsius on the mountains. Snow kept falling in Chamonix all Christmas-week but temperatures raised dramatically. Lots of heavy snow on top of a pretty poor base made conditions quite dangerous in terms of avalanche safety. It was good to let the snow settle a bit during the holiday celebrations.
The same weather trend took place in the Austrian Alps in the Arlberg region. Wolfgang and Luis had a successful off-piste holiday in St Anton the weekend before Christmas. Very cold before the snow arrived and big powder day on the 21st. Then it got warm and windy. We celebrated a rainy Christmas day in Innsbruck…
It was snowing hard again in St Anton on the 25th and we got amazing powder skiing on the 26 Dec! All though less snow in general than the weekend before we skied 30 cm of cold and fresh snow. Christmas skiing in St Anton was quiet, maybe because of the cold temperatures, but we continued to make first tracks as the lifts opened along the day.
In ski resorts all over the Alps, the amount of snow was increasing during the Christmas week. With the return of the cold (the next front is already coming in) we will get a solid base and more soft snow on top of it.