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The autumn that keeps on giving unseasonably warm temperatures has left Alpine resorts crossing their fingers that winter will arrive in time for scheduled resort openings…

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Europe’s highest ski resort, Val Thorens, has abandoned plans to open its slopes this weekend, after the return of milder weather wiped out the recent snowfall in resort.

Val Thorens’ resort base is at 2,300 and while its upper slopes at 2,700m are open, it is not possible to ski back to resort. Val Thorens is now focussing its efforts on being ready for the Grand Premiere official opening on 24 November and is hoping that the forecast of colder temperatures returning next week means the snow cannons will able to reach the parts Mother Nature can’t.

Announcing the postponement on social media, Val Thorens says: ‘Despite a desire to start the winter season on November 17th, the particularly anticyclonic weather does not allow us to open the resort and its ski area. The motivated teams of Val Thorens took the decision to focus on the Grand Premiere on November the 24th and 25th.

‘Currently the snow cover at 2,700m is satisfactory but does not allow a return to the resort on skis. All the teams are ready to prepare you the ski area as soon as the conditions are good.’

Packages and accommodation previously purchased for November the 17th can be refunded or postponed to the weekend of November 24th. We invite customers to contact directly their host or Val Thorens Reservation.

By contrast, across the Atlantic, North American resorts, which stuttered at the start of last winter, are enjoying some of their best early season conditions. 

Aspen in Colorado, which endured scratchy snow last winter, has announced that it is opening its slopes this weekend, five days ahead of schedule.

Aspen Mountain will open for daily operations with 130 acres of top-to-bottom skiing and riding, five days before the resort’s scheduled opening. Snowmass will open as scheduled on Thursday 22nd November with terrain off the Big Burn and Elk Camp lifts.

Aspen Mountain unveils more than 3,200 feet of vertical serviced by the Silver Queen Gondola, Ajax Express, Little Nell and Bell chairs. Runs will include One & Two Leaf, Upper Copper, Deer Park, Silver Bell, Silver Dip and Dipsy along with Spar Gulch and Little Nell. The Sundeck restaurant and Ajax Tavern will be open with food and beverage options.

‘Our teams have been working incredibly hard to provide as much terrain as possible for early opening,’ says Katie Ertl, senior vice president of mountain operations. ‘As we continue to work hard throughout the week leading up to opening, we will expect flash openings on more advanced terrain as we see fit and safe.’

The current Alpine forecast is that it will turn significantly colder on Sunday and into the early part of next week. Monday and Tuesday could see some snow flurries to low levels across the southern and eastern Alps in particular. 

There is still good skiing in glacier resorts, and non-glacial Obergurgl in Austria opened 37km of its upper ski slopes today. There is not much snow at resort level but on the upper slopes there is a remarkable snow depth of 110cm.


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