A Snow-sure Winter Season as Ski-lifts Open Early

(2019-12-13 09:15:16)


As autumn turns to winter each year, keen skiers and snowboarders turn their attentions to the forthcoming ski season – eagerly keeping tabs on the fresh snowfall in their favourite ski resorts. It’s very early days, but this winter season has been a treat so far – as plenty of fresh snow across the Alps has seen the ski-lifts open early in many of our most popular resorts.

We’ve seen swirling storms and dumps of fresh snow — some up to 120cms deep at high altitude — in France, Italy, Austria and Switzerland, ensuring a strong start to the winter season 2019/20.

On-piste, we’re seeing great snow-depth and the piste-bashers have already been busy preparing the slopes. But away from the patrolled pistes, the snow-pack is unstable and the risk of avalanche is high. As always, a little avalanche knowledge goes a long way.

Here, we’re taking a close look across the peaks and valleys of the Alps, to share with you some of our favourite resorts already welcoming early-season skiers and boarders.

Gondola in the Alps


The French Alps are home to many of our most popular ski resorts, and their high altitude puts them in a strong position for great early-season snowfall. At an eye-watering 3,200 metres above sea level, Val Thorens ranks among Europe’s highest resorts, and the lifts fired up there first.

Val d'Isère and Tignes opened early too, and the two resorts combine to make up the Espace Killy — widely considered among the finest ski areas in the world. Here, diverse terrain and modern lifts combine to offer amazing conditions for skiers and snowboarders of all levels.

Alpe d'Huez is a great resort for learners and eager intermediates, with an altitude of nearly 2,000 metres making it reassuringly snow-sure. The ski schools here are very good and the après ski is lively, too.

Courchevel has a reputation for glitz and glamour, but away from the 6* chalets and elegant luxury hotels, there’s a fine selection of accommodation options across the four villages to suit budgets large and small. It sits on the edge of the Three Valleys, and attracts confident skiers keen to tuck in the miles.

Les Deux Alpes boasts a high-altitude and snow-sure glacier, and features regularly on the list of French resorts opening early for the start of the winter ski season. For freestyle skiers and boarders in search for challenging hits and kickers in the terrain park, Les Deux Alpes is a must-ski resort.

Beautifully situated in the heart of the Three Valleys – with Courchevel to one side and Val Thorens to the other – the French resort of Méribel must be one of the best-located ski destinations in the world! Swift gondolas whisk snow-lovers to the Saulire and Tougnète peaks in moments, offering easy access to a staggering range of terrain. 

Serre Chevalier is another French resort offering excellent early-season skiing, thanks to heavy fresh snowfall. Here, skiers and boarders enjoy a big-mountain feel and plenty of exciting woodland runs. The older mountain villages offer bags of Alpine character, and Serre Chevalier is popular among learners and intermediates.

One of the French Alps’ most iconic resorts, Chamonix boasts a reputation for extreme mountain adventure dating back centuries. The snow record is strong, and the Chamonix Valley’s off-piste terrain draws thrill-seekers from across the world.

Ski resort in France


In Italy, this winter 2019/20 has seen some of the strongest early-season snowfall of anywhere in the Alps. Across the Dolomites, many of Italy’s most popular ski resorts have recorded enviable base-layers of the fresh stuff. Resorts including Selva, Val Gardena and Arabba have all reported impressive snowfall this November and December, and it’s looking like a bumper season on the Italian slopes.

Arabba is an intermediate-level skiers’ dream destination, with extensive slopes perfect for progression, and breathtaking mountain scenery. Heavy shade keeps the slopes in good condition, while the neighbouring resorts of the fabulous Sella Ronda circuit are all within easy reach.

Like Arabba, Selva is great for intermediate skiers and snowboarders. The lifts are swift, the Dolomites scenery is spectacular, and the local slopes are outstanding. If you have any beginners in your group, Selva offers superb nursery slopes.


St Anton’s reputation among Austria’s ski resorts is second-to-none, and its position at the head of the country’s largest ski area means there’s terrain for all levels. St Anton is a remarkably pretty resort, with rapid ski lifts, challenging terrain ideally suited to strong skiers, and an après ski scene that’ll blow your socks off! Bags of Tyrolean charm and character complete the picture.

For fans of Austrian ski resorts, Ischgl is an absolute gem – and the lifts cranked up here recently for the start of the winter season. The ski area is compact yet diverse, with rapid lifts ideally located to help you explore the slopes with ease. The terrain parks are outstanding, making it popular among freestyling snowboarders, and there’s a good range of off-piste to explore too. Like its sister resort of St Anton, the après ski scene is vibrant and very Austrian!

Mayrhofen fired up the ski lifts in recent days, too, and remains among our most popular Austrian ski resorts. The snow parks here are second to none, with hits and kickers for freestylers from beginner to professional standard. Lively après ski, top-notch ski schools and  a wide range of non-ski activities make Mayrhofen a great resort to tick off.

Ski-lifts in Austrian snowpark


The jewel in the crown of the Swiss Alps, the elegant ski resort of Verbier offers challenging slopes well-suited to advanced skiers, outstanding ski schools with programmes for all levels and pursuits, plus a dazzling range of stylish bars and clubs for après ski. With slopes reaching over 3,000 metres, Verbier is a great option for early-season skiing – and this year is no different.

The snow if falling think and fast, and winter 2019/20 is off to a bumper start. Whether you’re considering an early-season dash to the Alps, a week on the slopes over the festive season, or a trip later in the year, our experts are on hand to help with the ski resort recommendations to match your requirements. Call 0203 0800 202 to chat with a member of our team.