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Alpe d'Huez enjoys cold temperatures & sunshine

Cold temperatures make for good conditions in the never-ending sunshine

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| Rob Wood, Alpe d'Huez Reporter | Published
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Followers of our dump alert service will be aware that we received some lovely fresh snow last Friday into Saturday when around 15cm fell at resort level (1850m) whilst the upper slopes (3300m) saw around 30cm fall in total.

The snowfall was a rare hiatus in what has otherwise been wall-to-wall sunshine since Christmas Day – there have literally been only two cloudy days in the period since the New Year. Thankfully, the temperatures have remained pretty cold which is helping to keep the slopes in particularly good condition – up on the higher slopes, the temperatures have been down at around -10ºC for the past week or so. Although we haven't had much in the way of snowfall recently, we really are thanking our lucky stars for a very snowy November and early December and we still have over 2.5metres of snow on the very highest of slopes on the Pic Blanc, at 3300 metres.

There seems to be a little bit of snow in the forecast for the next few days as we may see around 5cm on Friday (January 24th) and a further 15cm on Monday into Tuesday which will be most welcome. With continuing cold temperatures, all of the slopes in the Grande Domaine ski area should see some fresh snow. There is a chance of a bit more snow between Wednesday and Friday next week after which it looks like a return to the mainly sunny conditions that have been prevalent for a while.

As is always the case after Christmas and New Year, January is a quiet time in Alpe d'Huez before the uber-busy month of February starts. For the past few weeks, lift queues have been virtually non-existent and, with loads of sunshine, it really is a great time to be in resort. Along with short lift queues, the pistes have remained very quiet recently and this is due to the fact that we have nearly 100 pistes open at the moment, 99 in fact, and these pistes are being served by 62 lifts (out of 67), so the ski area is virtually at 100% of its capacity at the moment.

On-piste snow cover around the ski area currently stands at values between 260cm at the top of Pic Blanc (3300m) and 40cm in the lowest of the resorts in the Grande Domaine ski area, Vaujany (1250m). In Alpe d'Huez village, we currently have snow depths of 125cm. Off-piste conditions would obviously benefit from some fresh snowfall as it’s a bit tracked in all but the remotest of locations. The section from the top of the Pic Blanc towards the Pyramides and towards Clavans offer the best of the off-piste conditions at the moment. Off-piste snow depths currently range between 270cm on north-facing slopes at 3000m and 20cm on south-facing slopes at 1500m, with most faces boasting around 150cm-200cm. Avalanche risk currently stands between 2 and 3 out of 5 across the whole ski area as it has done for the past few weeks.

The famous 16km-long Sarenne black run is in good condition for its entire length and the cold temperatues are allowing the massive network of snow cannons to supplement the snow cover every night. The super-steep and mogully Tunnel black run is in good condition but is definitely not for the faint-hearted with moguls the size of a small family car!

All 39km of the fabulous Nordic ski trails are open at the moment and they are in great condition, as are the 27km of walking trails which really are worth checking out if you fancy a spell away from the slopes. The walking trail towards the medieval fort and the Sarenne valley from the Altiport is particularly lovely in the afternoon sunshine.

Thankfully, the shortest day is long behind us now and there really is a noticeable stretch in the afternoon daylight with sunset these days at around 17:30. The cold temperatures look set to continue, as you would expect for January so, if you are on the way out to resort make sure you bring your thermals.

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Our Alpe d'Huez reporter, Rob, spends his winters in the mountains and his summers on Broadsands Beach (South Devon, UK) where he runs a watersports company. If you want to go kayaking, canoeing or stand-up paddleboarding check out his website.