How to make the most of every Alpine weather condition

12th February 2019 | French Alps

This is such a crucial question when on your ski holiday, as you want to get the most out of your ski time when you’re only there for a few days. One of the beauties of owning property is the ability to come away dependant on the weather, but it’s inevitable that at some point you may well get caught out in an unavoidable white-out, and be wondering how to make the most of your time on the pistes. We’ve put a little guide together to try and make a quick reference of where we think you should head to, no matter the weather. We’ve based this on The 3 Valleys in order to give you specific area examples, but the principles are the same no matter what resort you’re in. Science prevails.

Whilst we would love to pretend that we love skiing no matter the weather, and whilst I’m the first to admit that fresh powder is a joy even in a white-out, sometimes you just might not feel like it. Sometimes, the kids just want to be able to see you in front of them, and sometimes you want to make sure you grab the best views on the days when the weather is glorious.

bluebird mountain

On a perfect bluebird day…

Get to the views! The views up high in the mountains are always spectacular, but there’s nothing quite like perfect blue skies to be able to ‘peak spot’. In the 3 Valleys you can see Mont Blanc, the Paradiski and even over into some bits of Italy! Get up the lifts, get high and take in all that the Alps have to offer, and take your camera. Our favourite place to head to in the 3 Valleys when the weather is stunning is Orelle. Known as the 4th Valley of the 3 Valleys, you need good weather and strong legs to make it over there from Courchevel but it is more than possible. Get to Orelle and the highest point in the valleys. If you’re feeling really adventurous then you can take the zipline back to Val Thorens! In terms of snow; well this depends on the snow conditions. Read on for slushy spring days and cold icy bluebird days. Whatever you do, pack your suncream and make sure your goggles/sunglasses are up to the job.

On a sunny spring day…

Spring skiing is highly underrated in our opinion. Yes, the snow can be heavy and depending where you’re skiing you might get the odd bit of mud but fear not! There is beauty in spring skiing. Check out our blog all about spring skiing for the ins and outs. But the main thing you need to know, is that it’s a good idea to stay high and have a little lie in! The pistes are often rock hard in the mornings and fairly unforgiving having frozen overnight so have a slower morning and make the most of the mid-morning to mid-afternoon perfect conditions.

powder day

On an icy day…

Ice. We all know it, we all hate it. Head to the south facing slopes in the morning to get the snow which has been slightly softened by the sun. Stay lower where the snow is likely to be warmer and therefore softer. And mainly, just relax. Our main instinct is to throw our hands up the slope when hitting snow – thus throwing our skis onto their edges and making us slip even more. When you feel the ice under your planks, just let your skis slip over it and ski out the other side looking like a professional.

On a day where you can’t see the person in front of you…

The dreaded whiteout. You want to ski, but can you face it? This is actually the day I love to have an instructor with me – having someone to follow who knows the resort blindfolded makes skiing in a whiteout so much easier and takes away the stress of thinking you’re lost or about to accidentally ski off the side of the piste. However, if you head out on a thick whiteout, then head to the trees! The trees give you depth and perception and suddenly you’ll find you can see much more of the ground in front of you. Stay low, runs into Courchevel, La Tania, or even St Martin will keep you feeling a bit safer and more secure. TOP TIP! Remember to check the webcams on days like these, it might be that the cloud is localised or that it’s a Mer de Nuage. You might be able to get above it so always worth checking the live weather webcams in resorts on these days.  

mer de nuage

On a powder day…

The days we dream of. The perfect day. Fresh powder and a sky bluer than the Mediterranean sea. Is there anything better, I hear you cry? No, my friends, there is not. BUT. These are also often the most dangerous days. Having been based in the Alps for a while now, we’ve seen and heard lots of stories of people going off-piste unarmed with knowledge or equipment and not surviving. These glorious days should be respected with a healthy level of apprehension. There is no better feeling than gliding down on ungroomed fluffy snow, but if there’s enough snow then you can get this on the pistes if you’re up early enough. Head to quieter areas like Courchevel 1650 where it’ll be less tracked out. And if you do want to feel that dizzy elation of deep powder, grab an instructor who knows the area and an avalanche kit and get out there. Get to the best spots and stay safe, because, we want you to keep reading our blogs!

On a rainy day…

Head to a spa or restaurant. That is still somewhere on the mountain! In my personal opinion there is nothing worse than skiing in rain. You end up very quickly learning how waterproof your ski kit is, and when it starts to drip off your helmet down your neck you know it’s game over. BUT. If you insist on heading out (you’re a stronger person than me) then get high. Hopefully you can head up above the freeze line and get some rain that has turned to snow. If you can’t, and it’s raining at 3000m then honestly you just need to decide if you want to stay out and just deal with it. If not, it’s the perfect day for hot chocolates and getting a massage or heading to a spa.


On a special day…

H-E-L-I-S-K-I. There, we said it. If you’ve got the cash then head out for a heli-ski. If the weather is perfect and you want to really have a different experience then this is for you. But isn’t heli-skiing illegal in France?! Well yes, it is. But, as with everything, there are loop holes – check them out here, and start planning your next adventure.

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