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Heavy snowfall has got the winter off to a flying start.

Val Thorens, where November snow means the lifts are opening early. Photo: Tristan Kennedy

As the UK was battered by storm Ciarán last week, the same low-pressure system was bringing rather more pleasant weather further south. Heavy snow fell across the Alps, with around 30 to 40cm blanketing resorts in France, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy in the space of just a couple of days. This latest dump followed a wet end to October, when precipitation turned to snow at altitudes of 2,500m and above.

On Friday, Val Thorens, the highest resort in the Alps, announced that it had enough snow to open its top slopes a week earlier than planned.

"There are reports of deep powder—at least 30cm of snow at 1,800m on a solid base"

“It’s looking like a very positive start for winter,” said Olivier Desaulty, executive director of The Three Valleys Association, in a statement announcing the move. Val Thorens’ highest lifts will be open from this coming Saturday, 18th November, with special discounts on liftpasses offered for early-bird skiers. “Other resorts in the Three Valleys system have also had decent early snow,” Desaulty went on to explain. “For example, 60 to 80cm has fallen on Mont Saulire which links Courchevel to Méribel

Elsewhere in the Alps, ski tourers and splitboarders have been strapping on skins and taking advantage of the unusual early season bounty. Andrea Lucchi, an Italian ski tourer who visited the 1,800m high resort of Passo Tonale in Trentino on Saturday told SNOW: “The snow was nice, from the bottom to the top. The first time in two years [skiing on that run] without sharks at all.”

In Tignes, the second highest ski resort in the Alps after Val Thorens, snowboarder-run chalet company the Dragon Lodge has already been posting envy-inducing photos of splitboard turns in deep powder.

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Writing on the forecasting website WePowder, Rogier, a skier based near Serre Chevalier, reported “deep powder—about 30cm of snow at 1,800m, on a solid base”. His pictures of a ski touring excursion, posted on Friday, are enough to get any red-blooded powderhound excited.

While slightly warmer temperatures are predicted before the end of the month, there’s more snowfall due in many parts of the Alps too. WePowder is currently predicting up to 77cm of new snow for resorts in Switzerland, including Laax/Flims, Davos, and Engelberg over the next six days, as well as significant snowfalls in Austrian resorts like Ischgl. All of which bodes well for a good start to the season.

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