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The Future Of Snow

Aug 18, 2007
If I had a penny for everyone that asks for a "high altitude chalet" for their annual skiing holidays nowadays then I would be a very rich man!

But how can you blame them? The British press have been bolstering their winter broad sheets with the effects of "global warming" and the dreadful snow conditions that we have been apparently experiencing in the alps. This has of course been spurred on by doom mongers sat in a London press office, with all but a poorly placed webcam to gain their daily insight on the true snow conditions at a local level*. Nevertheless, they still feel qualified to paint a pretty dreary picture to the unassuming public as to the future of European skiing holidays.

Many webcams are inaccurately placed and only show snow at the Tourist Office altitude which is often below the snowline and not where the real skiing is. Morzine in particular, (one example of a great British ski destination), has suffered this over sight by the Tourist Office who have chosen not to lodge their webcam at the skiing altitude, but rather at a 900 metre resort level.

Coming from one who has spent every week of the ski season touring the alps over the last 11 years, then I feel qualified to have an opinion. Although I have seen a change in snow, it is not as dramatic as one is led to believe. If anything the seasons are simply shifting. We are getting the same seasonal levels of snow as we were a decade ago, but it now chooses to come later and stay for longer. April skiing is now bigger business than ever as it steals demand from the festive weeks; and rightly so because the reality is that April is experiencing higher levels of snow than ever before.

Thankfully, various ski associations with first hand knowledge of the actual snow levels of last season have sought public correction and recognition from the media as to the unfounded nature of their premature remarks; remarks about the uncertain future of European skiing holidays.

I have heard many tales of skiers cancelling their Christmas skiing holidays at the last minute with huge losses in cancellation charges, simply because they choose to believe all they read in the papers! If they had taken their holiday as planned and paid for, they would have found a ski resort skiing normally above 1500 metres, and please remember that most premier French resorts have 95% of their skiing above this level anyway.

Indeed the resorts where skiing is placed below 1300 metres are experiencing the "wrong kind of precipitation", as temperatures are rising. However if you pick a resort where the skiing is above 1300 metres, then you will be experiencing normal skiing conditions and full coverage of ski area, which nowadays is further enhanced by snow cannons; snow cannons that are actually making the skiing better than ever before.

Perhaps the snow that we have just experienced in Chamonix, (July 1st 2007) is not a good omen that the snow is still prevalent, but acting as a harbinger to climate change or a merging of the seasons?

The fact is that last season was actually a better season for snow above 1300 metres than the previous two years. Long term weather forecasts are suggesting a rise in precipitation over the alps in the next ten years, along with relatively low levels in temperature rise. Therefore although there may be rain at low levels there will be greater amounts of snow at higher altitudes, thus making resorts above 1500 metres all the more in demand for European skiing holidays.
About the Author
Shaun Parker has been at the forefront of the Skiing Holidays Industry for 15 years. Now serving over 10 000 clients per year for snowboarding, mountain biking, activity and ski holidays, Alpine Elements provide a complete package for Apline holidays all year round. Visit http://www.alpineelements.co.uk
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