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Sunny day after sunny day in Chamonix

Chamonix is stuck in Groudhog Day – don't forget the sunscreen

Featured in:

Graham Pinkerton | Chamonix Reporter | Published: 27 Feb 2019


Sunny day after sunny day in Chamonix

In a world of daily news reports describing turmoil and change, you can't fault the weather for its consistency this week! If you like sunshine, then this has been a great time to be in the mountains. 

As each day has been almost exactly the same as the day before, it's been a little harder than usual to keep track of events; was it yesterday I skied Le Tour or the day before? Brévent has tried to help give some clues by having the Col Cornu chairlift break down every other day but, otherwise, it's been a fairly smooth-running week.

Yes, there have been queues at the bottleneck lifts but it's really not been that bad. Cruising about Grands Montets on Tuesday afternoon the only lift with anything approaching a wait to get on was the Bochard lift. Head to Herse instead and you could ski straight onto a chair, with the added advantage of being out in the fresh air for the way up too. Skiing down riders right of the main piste from Herse you were treated to vast areas of smooth chalk snow. Whilst powder snow gets all the advertising images, and ski tourers rave about their springtime descents on corn snow, chalk is surely the connoisseur's choice of snow types. Good technique and reasonably sharp edges are required but, with these and some confidence, you can have an outstandingly good time.

Then there are the moguls. Grands Montets has a justified reputation for turning into a mogul field every year and, sure enough, the main spots (below the Herse chairlift, Lavancher bowl and above the Tabe chairlift) look as pimply as I did in my teenage years. Great fun if you like moguls, not so much if you don't.

If you're looking to get touring then spring/corn snow is really the best thing to be looking for now. There are still a few pockets of untouched velvety fresh to be found in hidden north-facing slopes but, after the winds last Friday, they're few and far between. Of the usual touring suspects, the exit from the Buet valley remains in good condition whilst the exit trail from the Vallée Blanche has started to break in a few places. It still skis fairly well but if you're precious about your skis probably best to take the train down from Montenvers.

Looking forward, whilst there are still some schools on holiday next week, the peak weeks will be finished and the slopes will feel quieter. There's also some news in the weather forecast! After a couple of weeks of paying it no attention as the weather tomorrow was going to be the same as the weather today, there's a change a coming. Thursday looks likely to be the last of the sunny days with a snowy disturbance passing through the valley on Thursday evening. This will bring some snow, along with cooler temperatures and stronger winds but it is unlikely to cause too much disruption. After that, the forecast is much more unsettled looking, with a mix of sunshine and snow showers showing up on the radar, the snow currently looking strongest on the 5th.

So, make the most of the sunshine. Just like you did yesterday. And the day before. And the day bef...

NB: Exploring beyond the ski resort boundaries is an amazing experience for anyone who's physically fit and has mastered the pistes well enough. There are, however, risks associated with venturing outside the safety of the marked/patrolled ski area, including awareness of your actions on those below you on the slopes. Mountain guides are professionally qualified and have extensive knowledge of the local terrain to provide you with the safest and most enjoyable possible experience in the mountains; as a visitor here we highly recommend you hiring one. Many ski schools also provide instruction in off-piste skiing, avalanche safety and mountaineering techniques. Make your time in the mountains unforgettable for the right reasons, ski safe!

Off-piste skiing and mountaineering are dangerous. The opinions expressed in these articles are very much time and condition-specific and the content is not intended in any way to be a substitute for hiring a mountain guide, undergoing professional mountaineering training and/or the individual's own backcountry decision making.