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Zermatt and Cervinia 2019-20

 Poster: A snowHead
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Right, not sure if this photo will mean much but let’s try. At this time of year we are waiting for the lifts on the Furgg glacier to open up. That opens up the excellent pistes 71 and 72 and connects the still open summer skiing area to Trockener Steg via pistes 81 and 73. Usually the lifts can open mid-late October. Two things are needed: a bit of snow on the glacier (augmented by the stored snow - there is no snow making on the glacier); and temperatures low enough for the snow making to build a track to connect the end of the glacier to the lift station at Trockener Steg.

In October I would usually be getting my daily white stuff fix by looking at the Trockener Steg webcam. Unfortunately it is out of action at present! The closest one can get is to look at the Klein Matterhorn webcam as it sweeps round to the North West. The photo below is a screenshot of that, enlarged. What you can see is the Furgg glacier with a decent amount of snow on it. A couple of weeks ago it was just blue/grey ice. You can also just about make out the thin white track leading from the end of the glacier to Trockener Steg. It might not be the clearest but it is enough to get me excited.

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Great spot John. I was looking at the GFS runs today and am I right in thinking we have something potentially interesting next week to the tail end? Temps dropping, some precipitation on the horizon also?


Could more top-ups on the glacier and things start to look healthier? Looking forward to that first big 'storm' of the season where things settle!
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Run28 wrote:
Great spot John. I was looking at the GFS runs today and am I right in thinking we have something potentially interesting next week to the tail end? Temps dropping, some precipitation on the horizon also?


Could more top-ups on the glacier and things start to look healthier? Looking forward to that first big 'storm' of the season where things settle!


Hard to tell. The good news is that the temperatures are staying low up on the mountains so hopefully any of that precipitation from the north west that we do get will be snow. Saturday is just a blip and looking at the radar projections might pass north of Zermatt. Monday looks more hopeful (all be it Monday is still quite far out in forecasting terms). It is not the biggest bank of precipitation but it looks quite heavy and at present it is projected to stretch well to the north and south of Zermatt as it comes in from the NW (i.e. less chance of it being bounced away at the last moment). Fingers crossed. Later that week GFS is basically saying your guess is as good as mine.

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Precipitation from about 6 in the evening until 2 am last night. In town and up to about 2000m it was mainly rain - although at 2000m enough of it was snow to leave a nice looking cover. Up in the main ski areas it was snow and has created the first non-glacier proper cover. The photo below is from Schwarzsee looking up to Trockener Steg and at the areas that will become the pistes from Trockener Steg down to Furgg. They will not open until end November. However above Trockener Steg there should now be enough cover (including snow making supplement) to open up whenever they fancy it. It could be this weekend I guess.

The snow came in from the North West so the Swiss side did better than the Italian side. The Italians don’t intend opening until the weekend after next.

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JohnMo wrote:
However above Trockener Steg there should now be enough cover (including snow making supplement) to open up whenever they fancy it. It could be this weekend I guess.


Whoop whoop!
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Looking a good start. Findeln with a light cover too. More on Wednesday/Thursday it looks like from Gfs run.
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twoodwar wrote:
Looking a good start. Findeln with a light cover too. More on Wednesday/Thursday it looks like from Gfs run.


Yes. This is Alhpitta restaurant in Findeln this morning. It will melt but lovely to see and gives confidence of the more important stuff up high.

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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Lovely to see Rothorn with a solid covering this morning also. Hopefully the mountain team can get things moving up on Trockner this week....maybe an early start is on the cards up top!
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twoodwar wrote:
More on Wednesday/Thursday it looks like from Gfs run.


It seems to be a race between the warm front and the bank of precipitation (obviously part of the same weather system). There are some (relatively) high temperatures over the next couple of days. Then the next bank of precipitation comes through Wednesday afternoon. Probably too early to be anything other than rain low down but good for high up.

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@JohnMo, not sure why I get excited as its March before I get there this year, (Obertauern with mass family in Feb). The anticipation is everything.
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Greetings, I am new to this forum but already found a lot of useful info.

I've been doing yearly two-week pilgrimages to the Dolomits, but this time, traveling alone, I changed the itinerary to Zermatt. I arrive 4 January for two weeks... flight and accommodation booked.

I've read fair bit about Zermatt. It seems to be a passion driven love affair for many, just like the Dolomits which for me was also a breath-taking experience each time... and I am sure I will go back one day, but for now it's time for a change.
Being alone for two weeks, it will be skiing, skiing and a lot more skiing.

My only concern is the cold. I live in a very warm climate and the Dolomits were also spectacularly sunny and warm most of the time. I skied mostly with just one base layer and average pants and jacket. Zermatt seems to be a lot colder and windier, especially in January. I wonder what advice the regulars would give about skiing in January. What to wear and be aware of, how to protect from the elements?
Thanks
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@Aussieboy, top notch ski wear and plenty of layers recommended , this is high mountain and much higher than the Dolomites . Have a rucksack to peel off into and back again .
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@Aussieboy, welcome to snowheads. Yes it can easily get to -20 on the glacier in January. Lifts will close though at this height if this is the case. I have never worn more than a good insulated jacket, light fleece and good quality wool base layer. I have worn thermal leggings when its forecast to be a bit cold. I dont feel the cold though that much. As Rob Mackley says a rucksack to add or take off a layer is always a good idea.
You will enjoy it I am sure.
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@Aussieboy, Yep, it can be cold and it can also be windy. And January is the “best” time for both of those things. It is very high and that comes with many advantages for a ski resort but undoubtedly comes with those features.

I am a complete wimp and I have no problem layering up and keeping warm. I also do wear nice fleece-lined trousers and a very heavy jacket at the height of winter as well as having super thick gloves and a face mask (which I very rarely wear but nice to have when needed).

There are a number of things you can do to try to keep warm and minimise wind.

On the latter keep an eye on the weather forecast and particularly the wind direction. If it is from the north, head over to Italy. If it is from the south, stay in Switzerland. If it is from the east it will be a cold wind but you should be sheltered from it. If it is from the west, there is nowhere to hide.

As regards warmer areas, you will need to be looking at the piste map to understand the below.

Rothorn (particularly the slopes from Blauherd to Sunnegga and Rothorn down to Gant) gets the best early sun. So if it is a sunny but cold day, head there first. Gornegrat gets the sun later in the morning so head there after. The far southern Swiss slopes (Trockener Steg and Schwarzsee areas) get very short sunshine spells in January. Cervinia (Italy) gets by far the best January sun. Valtournenche (in the far south) is also good for sun and is more sheltered than Cervinia.

If it is cold and/or windy, stay off the top of Klein Matterhorn. A cold wind up there can go straight through any layers you have on.
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Thanks for the advices. I've been replacing all my clothing apart from my jacket which is a 20k/20k and still holds strong. My new pants feel quite warm but only 10k/10k so not as waterproof. I am a intermediate/advanced skier so I plan to try off-piste. Do I need more waterproofed pants?

I will have wool base layers. Would you recommend knee warmers? What do you use, if you do?

I've bought a face mask which is so scary I can't look into the mirror (my friends assured me "it's the same without a mask..."), so I will get a fleece cover as well.

Do you use any additional warmer over the gloves? I am thinking of making up a down puffer tube which I can simple pull over the gloves on the chair lifts or when the weather gets nasty. I haven't seen anything ready made...

Do you use / need any warmer for the boots? I can wear only a thin pair of socks inside the boots and my feet got cold on long chair rides even in the Dolomits...

Thanks for any suggestions.
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Depending on how the season goes I’m unsure of the number of itinerary’s (great off piste marked runs) that will be open in Jan - so keep an eye on the live piste map and on the forum. The itinerary Guru, @JohnMo will hopefully keep us all updated on those. That said, it’s all up to the weather gods at the end of the day!

I personally don’t use anything other than a good pair of gloves for hand warmth. My wife uses inner gloves (v thin thermal layers) but they make my hands too hot. If you are skiing hard your body should be hot anyway!

Merino wool bass layers are brilliant and in January I’d recommend a solid mid layer also. It depends on your set up. If you like shell gortex jackets then you should have lots of layers underneath including base, mids and in Jan a thermolite / thin down jacket. That said if you have a thermal jacket with insulated layers etc you should only need base and mid.

Boots wise I think you’ll be fine with a good pair of thermal socks. Again, the harder you ski and work the boots the warmer they will become....unless it’s blowing a force 5 and wind chill of -30 I guess! Most of the chair lifts now have wind shields which helps you keep warmer whilst sitting still...some are also heated!

I’ll finish with this though. We love skiing in Jan in Zermatt. The mountain is beautifully quiet, snow is in fantastic condition and fingers crossed you’ll have lots of snow in the town. It can be colder then March / April but it’s worth it if you are a passionate skier!

I hope you love Zermatt as much as we all do.
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@Aussieboy, It is often quite hard to know how someone else will react to cold. I hate my feet getting cold but I have never used boot warmers (or really ever felt I needed them). However, I do wear very good quality socks. It is certainly an area that I think is worth stretching one’s budget. Even the super warm socks can be quite thin these days.

One thing that is worth considering is now much you buy in Oz and how much you get in resort. Obviously resorts are more expensive and the Swiss Franc is a killer. However, the advantages are that: you know better what you need after even a day on the mountain; the resort shops tend to have the very best quality (although again – it comes at a price); and the resort shop assistants tend to be very knowledgeable at offering advice (not to say home ones aren’t but I think it can be more hit and miss). When we first got a place in Täsch (next to Zermatt) the seven of us skiers (me plus three children with partners) and one non-skier cum walker (wife) were stocked up with UK gear. As time has gone on we have more often bought what we realised would benefit us in resort. In relation to your specific question I am not sure you’d need pants that were more waterproof.

As for trying off piste, did you do much in the Dolomites? In Zermatt, some of the off piste is on glaciers so you need to be extra careful because of crevasses – not an issue in the Dolomites. Personally, despite the fact that I know the area well, I don’t go into the real back country without a guide. One thing we do have in Zermatt (common in Switzerland and Austria but not Italy) are itinerary runs. These are controlled areas that are not groomed and are marked just by single poles keeping you on broadly the right path. They are marked on the piste map as yellow routes. They give you a lot of the fun and challenge of being off piste but in a safer environment. By far the best area is Rote Nasa/Stockhorn but this does not open until 26 January (or later if snow is bad). It needs a good covering of snow to cover the rocks in that area. If you could see it in the summer you would realise how necessary that is and that it is not just an excess of caution. Here is a copy of a post I did a couple of years ago describing the various itineraries:

Quote:
67/68 – run down next to the piste. Nice and wide. Not a lot of cliff edges. Usually plenty of people around and from most places you can be seen from the piste. The best place to start.



59/60 – similar to 67/68 but a bit steeper and not as many people around and can’t be seen from the piste.



58 – known by my daughter as “death route” because I took her on it when her skiing was not really up to it. It starts off dead easy then gets steep then falls into the trees. I love it. Don’t do it unless you can handle really sharp turns or you have a desire to get very intimate with a tree trunk. Nowhere near a piste.



49 and 43 – just ways to get to restaurants or back to town but do them if you are passing by.



30 – getting into the real stuff now. Try this before you take the lifts over to Rote Nase and Stockhorn. If you enjoyed

67 and 68 you’ll probably enjoy this. But unless you are confident on this don’t try …



31/32/33/34 – heaven on earth in my opinion. I could spend a whole day playing over these routes. You get an ancient lift over there that only serves itineraries and not groomed pistes. Unless you know them don’t try to do them on a bad light day – it would be easy to stray off route (or just go off the edge of a rock drop!) and no-one is going to find you. On a clear day there should be enough other people around to make you feel not too nervous. If you go to Zermatt and are a reasonably competent and confident skier (and fit) it would be a real pity not to head over here. But do check whether your own insurance covers you.



10 – easy peasy lemon squeezy. But surprisingly nice run still. Another good one to try if you just want to find out if you can cope with itineraries.



16/17/18 – Great runs to do and often have unskied snow for several days after a dump but they do not get a lot of people on them so those of a nervous disposition might not like them. Can be very steep in parts and there are rocks a plenty. If you were fine on the Stockhorn sector you should try these ones as well. But it is much better to do with at least one other person (and stay in sight of each other) than on your own.
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Well, the precipitation this afternoon was rubbish. The wrong stuff up to very high. Still it helps the areas due to open later this month.

GFS starting to get a bit excited about the middle of next week. Fantasy Island but still going to do the snow dancing.

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@JohnMo, 15th/16th now looks like a humdinger on 12Z.
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twoodwar wrote:
@JohnMo, 15th/16th now looks like a humdinger on 12Z.


We really shouldn’t be taking about “forecasts” for as far out as next Tuesday. But what the hell - it is not yet the season so no harm Toofy Grin . This is how the BBC sees next Tuesday. Not sure exactly which models the BBC uses. Tracking their radar projections it does all rely on banks of precipitation making it eastwards from the Atlantic and not being pushed up or down. Of course Tuesday will be nothing like this but it is better than just staring at a blocking high.

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I assume you live out there @JohnMo?
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Russeh wrote:
I assume you live out there @JohnMo?


No. We live in London (where the skiing is a bit scratchy). But we have an apartment in Täsch and are retired so we try to spend a decent amount of time out there throughout the year. It certainly feels like home when we are there.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@Run28 - Which live piste map do you recommend?
As to keeping warm, I am a carving enthusiast on moderate speed, so I usually warm up quickly while skiing. I was mainly concerned about long chairlift rides, but now I think I will be prepared.

@JohnMo - Thanks for the list. I haven't done anything off-piste. The Dolomits' Sella Ronda area is really vast with spectacular reds and some great blacks to keep the endorphins high, but the amount of snow in January was never great, so off-piste was not so inviting. It seems early January is not the best time for off-piste in Zermatt either. Nevertheless, I will try what's given and I will certainly not heart-broken if I get my endorphin fixes mainly on the pistes.
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@JohnMo, always was reckless. Worth noting that the forecasts for today in Liverpool from the BBC ( meteo france I think) and the met office differ significantly. Met Office is normally more accurate. Why the BBC changed is beyond me. I have no problems looking 1 week out John, as my expectations of accuracy are not high. Its just good fun.
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JohnMo wrote:
Russeh wrote:
I assume you live out there @JohnMo?


No. We live in London (where the skiing is a bit scratchy). But we have an apartment in Täsch and are retired so we try to spend a decent amount of time out there throughout the year. It certainly feels like home when we are there.


sounds lovely. Hoping to do something similar one day, someway off retirement yet though :/
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Aussieboy wrote:
@Run28 - Which live piste map do you recommend?
As to keeping warm, I am a carving enthusiast on moderate speed, so I usually warm up quickly while skiing. I was mainly concerned about long chairlift rides, but now I think I will be prepared.

@JohnMo - Thanks for the list. I haven't done anything off-piste. The Dolomits' Sella Ronda area is really vast with spectacular reds and some great blacks to keep the endorphins high, but the amount of snow in January was never great, so off-piste was not so inviting. It seems early January is not the best time for off-piste in Zermatt either. Nevertheless, I will try what's given and I will certainly not heart-broken if I get my endorphin fixes mainly on the pistes.


Hi Aussieboy,

I'd use the live map on the Matterhorn Paradise website - https://www.matterhornparadise.ch/en.

You'll see that currently, it shows the hiking trails etc but it will flip to show the Winter pistes soon! For me, that is when Winter has arrived!
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Thanks, Run28, I checked it, it's quite good for a real time interactive. Indeed, I was hoping for something like the Dolomiti Superski 3D map application (from https://www.dolomitisuperski.com/en/Live-info/Ski-map) which is absolutely stunning.... well, "you can't always get what you want".... but I barely can wait to get there "real time".
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Aussieboy wrote:
Thanks, Run28, I checked it, it's quite good for a real time interactive. Indeed, I was hoping for something like the Dolomiti Superski 3D map application (from https://www.dolomitisuperski.com/en/Live-info/Ski-map) which is absolutely stunning.... well, "you can't always get what you want".... but I barely can wait to get there "real time".


If you want something a bit more impressive then download the SkiGuide App on the AppStore. You can have a 3D interactive map on your iPhone with the weather forecast, snow depth, open/closed lifts and runs, webcams etc. It also has a navigation tool which I haven't tried yet!
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@Run28, thanks for that, I will download that app. I have 5 weeks to be watching this thread. I have never skied so early in the season before, but I am sure by nov 25th there will be something for me to ski. Mind you in Italy if the skiing is limited, we can eat good food and drink wine, so all will be good.
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Just downloaded it, brilliant app.
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Run28 wrote:
If you want something a bit more impressive then download the SkiGuide App on the AppStore. You can have a 3D interactive map on your iPhone with the weather forecast, snow depth, open/closed lifts and runs, webcams etc. It also has a navigation tool which I haven't tried yet!


It also has an android version on google play. It looks functional.

What very impressive in the Dolomit 3D map is the satellite imagery. Flashing out on a giant monitor it almost gives an experience of skiing (to a viewer sitting in a chair 10,000 miles away in 30 degree sunshine...). It has a mobile version as well. It's quite suggestive to split two weeks into one in Val Gardena and another in Zermatt... perhaps next year.
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JohnMo wrote:
above Trockener Steg there should now be enough cover (including snow making supplement) to open up whenever they fancy it. It could be this weekend I guess.


Nope. Didn’t open. The next seven days has more snow on the way so next week is a possibility. But maybe they will wait a fortnight and open up at the same time as the Italians.
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JohnMo wrote:
JohnMo wrote:
above Trockener Steg there should now be enough cover (including snow making supplement) to open up whenever they fancy it. It could be this weekend I guess.


Nope. Didn’t open. The next seven days has more snow on the way so next week is a possibility. But maybe they will wait a fortnight and open up at the same time as the Italians.


Minor correction to that: the piste running from the summer ski area down to Trockener Steg is now open. It shows that that area is ready.
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Looks like the top might be getting a dusting tomorrow and Friday. Ground temp is looking lower than last week so hopefully, this is the start of the brown and grey turning to white up top!
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GFS still solid for snow on 15th/16th, and still showing temp drop and snow on 20th.
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