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Alpine Climbing & Skiing: Frost Guiding Blog

Off Piste in Arolla and Grimentz

~ Tuesday 30th January 2018

It's been a fast turn-around - from road closures, avalanches and landslides to perfect, stable off-piste conditions in a few days. The mountains never cease to amaze! Relatively warm temperatures and settled weather have created some excellent ski conditions in the Swiss Alps.

I started the week in Grimentz with the British Mountain Guides Off-piste training course. The popularity of off-piste and lift access day-touring has exploded in recent years and now provides the bulk of many guides' winter work, so a specific training course seems like a really good idea. The Val d'Anniviers is no longer a "secret spot" - it has joined the Magic Pass scheme and is much busier than a few years ago, but with a little imagination it's still not hard to find untracked snow.

Next, back home in Evolene with a few days off work - and perfect ski conditions!

Ski season update

~ Sunday 21st January 2018

"... above average snow depths for this juncture of the season; far above average snow depths on the northern Alpine Ridge, in the Valais, in northern Grisons and in the Lower Engadine."

Swiss Avalanche Bulletin

Well, that sums up the 2018 ski season in a sentence. It started snowing early prompting the usual excitement and forecasts of "bumper" snowfall, but this time they were right! Snow depths in the Valais are currently around double the average - this time last year we were still skiing on rocks and grass!

Heavy snowfall has disadvantages and has taken a particularly heavy toll on the mountain roads - keeping them open is hard enough and needs an army machines and drivers, but rockfalls and landslides have made life even harder this year. Arolla has been cut off for a record number of days, Zermatt has been inaccessible by road and now by train, and the Col de la Forclaz is closed until at least early March!

It's good news for skiers though. Exceptional conditions in resorts and (between storms!) some excellent touring. It now looks certain that there's going to be plenty of snow for the main touring season too.

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