Piste Planning

Diehard snow addicts have been able to ski all summer in Europe with some of the best summer snow conditions for years in the high glacier resorts across Europe. With the 2013 / 14 season kicking off in earnest in November, we take a month by month look at when and where to plan your perfect ski trip.

November:

November skiing is mostly glacier skiing with resorts like Saas Fee and Zermatt in Switzerland both ideal destinations. Early season conditions have been excellent over the past couple of years and, fingers crossed, early snow fall indicates we might be in for more of the same this year.

There are not a lot of package options on offer for this time of the year so booking independently is the way to go. Another option is to book an early season course to get your skills up to speed for the months ahead. We have heard good things about the Warren Smith Ski Academy and we can’t wait to take part in the course in Cervinia in November.

December:

If you are one of those people that have dreamt of Christmas in a ski chalet you better get booking soon as all the good ones will go quickly. Christmas and New Year skiing is gaining popularity, especially in the UK, and this has pushed both the price and demand for good accommodation up for this time of year.

The other important point to keep in mind is that while Christmas and New Years skiing are expensive and overcrowded, there is no guarantee of good snow in all the resorts. If you want to ski in December, we recommend booking a package early in the month. You’ll get a week skiing for a fraction of the price and crowd free but keep in mind all areas and runs may not be fully open yet. Crystal Ski have 7 nights self catering packages starting at around €470 now. Alpe d’Huez in France and Cervinia in Italy are good bets for this time of year.

January:

A few years ago January used to be a month of empty pistes and great value late deals. This is no longer the case and among the reasons for this change is the massive influx of Russian skiers visiting some of the top name resorts across the European Alps. They tend to travel over Orthodox Christmas and New Year which falls over the first half of the month and it can be hard to find a free table or indeed hotel room at the more popular resorts. The second half of the month is quieter Crystal Ski have deals from €370 per person sharing based on 4 adults sharing in resorts like Avoriaz and Chamonix in France.

If you want to go beyond Europe you will find plenty quiet pistes and good snow in North America, Canada or Japan at this time of year. If you’re heading for the Alps it can be worth waiting as there are usually last minute deals to be had towards the end of the month.

February:

Despite the fact that booking your holiday for February gives you the best chance of good snow, you must weigh that up against the fact that half term in the UK and school holidays in France make for crowded and overpriced resorts throughout most of the French Alps.

North America is just as busy in February with President’s weekend (mid month) being a very popular time for family ski breaks. Where ever you are considering, you will need to book early for a February holiday. Package deals sell out quickly for this time of the year, all the best chalets and apartments are let well in advance and flights are more expensive.

March:

By the time we get to March the feeling traditionally has always been that the best of the season’s skiing is behind us. With the arrival of spring, skiing at valley level will undoubtedly be getting a little bit slushy, but further up the mountain, snow conditions are still often suberb. Add to that longer and warmer days and a March holiday starts to look more attractive.

Crystal Ski are offering 7 nights half board at the Hotel St Gothard in Andorra from €456 per person.

April:

Most tour operators and travel agents tend to shut down ski holidays in early April. But if you like quiet pistes, excellent snow and great value for money, April skiing is for you. Accommodation is in plentiful supply, flights are less busy to main ski airports like Geneva and the last few years have seen good late snow falls in April.

Even in high resorts, keep in mind that conditions will probably be getting a little slushy by mid / late morning so you should be on the first chair lift to take full advantage of the best of the snow. Just like in early season, it’s better to head for the high glacier resorts like Saas Fee or Zermatt in Switerland. The last ski lifts run everywhere in Europe by early May.

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