The Late, Late Snow: Best Late Season Ski Resorts
If it takes you a couple of months to get up the skill to breeze gracefully, down divine white slopes or soar through the air over dry powder bowls - all in front of a backdrop of icy majesty, then you might not be ready to swap your skis for water skis. Don’t worry, there are a few corners still coveting their snow against Spring's warm breath and refusing to throw off their white winter blankets.
March and April can mean less snow, but they also means longer days and less people on the lifts, so at the right resort you can pack a lot of last minute skiing into each day. If in any doubt aim high, the higher the altitude of the resort the more snow it will get and hopefully keep. Even better if the resort has north facing slopes - at above 2,000m in the shade, the air it at its most snow-friendly.
Val Thorens is Europe’s highest resort at 2,300m with lifts up to 3,100m and access to Mount Vallon’s 2,952m high north facing slopes, the lifts at La Plagne drop skiers at 3,250m beside the Bellecote Glacier, and Verbier stretches to 3,330m, but Zermatt’s lifts on to the Klein Matterhorn reach a dizzying 3,899m, and stay open all year. Unbeatable for altitude in Europe - unless you drop in via helicopter.
Representing Italy, Cervinia’s high altitude runs come off the Matterhorn at 3,480m and though there aren’t a huge selection of runs the blue and red runs take advantage of the Matterhorn’s snow laden peaks.
Glaciers are another insurance policy safety net for planning a late season run. A few of Europe’s glaciers, the Hinterlux near Mayrhofen for example, stay open all year. Saas Fee has the Allalin Glacier to keep it cool, and ski runs run right beside it as high as 3,500m. You can ski it all year out of Saas Fee, like the racing teams do - when things get a little watery they just bring out the snow cannons.
Dachstein Glacier will only lift you to 2,700m but the glacier towers over the surrounding valleys in a spectacular way and there is plenty of off piste entertainment as long as you don’t mind things getting a bit rocky.
Most of the runs at Tignes, are at snow friendly altitudes, but the Grange Motte Glacier is an added insurance policy, likewise are the many north facing slopes. Chamonix isn’t just in a prime position under the snow cloud trapping peak of Mont Blanc, you can also do some glacial skiing on Le Grandes Montets and Chamonix lift passes can be used in 11 skiing areas so you can seek out the best snow around.
As well as being further up as in taller, being further up as in up the globe into the northern hemisphere, also means more snow. Obergurgl, with its reliable snow fall, 110kms of piste, snow cannons and family friendly resort is on the northern side of the Alps. Are, in Sweden is even further north, its mountains aren’t sky ticklers like the alps but the rolling high hills are the perfect shape for ski slopes and Pyhe in Finland is within the Arctic Circle.
On the other side of the world, Vail enjoys a longer winter season than the Alps, and Alta and Steamboat have good reputations when it comes to average annual snowfall - another way to choose your late season resort. The other trick of the seasoned late seasoners applies wherever you decide to lower your goggles: start early and take advantage of crisp mornings, hold out for lunch as long as you can, then squish home early in the mush.
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