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Best European snowsure resort for early January

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
We are 2 adults ( late 40s).and our 19 year old daughter. We are intermediate skiers who like easy blues and reds with pretty scenery.
Any recommendations for early January? Up until.now we have been tied to school holidays as I am a teacher but finally free to be more flexible. Due to Uni holidays we can squeeze in a week on 4th January but a bit worried about conditions then. We went to Scheffau 2 years ago in mid February and the snow was terrible. So looking for more snowsure conditions.
Any help appreciated. Thanks x
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Wait till nearer the time - if you want to be sure of good snow you need to head high - but that could mean bleak, treeless, windy etc etc
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
or go to the Dolomites. Snowmaking there makes it a virtual certainty many pistes open (although you may be on white ropes that early) and certainly works for this part "easy blues and reds with pretty scenery".
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Quote:

Scheffau 2 years ago in mid February and the snow was terrible. So looking for more snowsure conditions


@skilass, I am afraid you were just unlucky. Schaffau no more or less likely to have good snow than anywhere else.

As Pam says, wait and see. Only fly in that ointment is finding cheap flights ...
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Wait until the last min to book. It's the quietest week of the season so there's always loads of late deals and you can choose where the best snow is.
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In an average year, early January is when the base for the rest of the season is built, e.g. look at https://www.j2ski.com/snow_forecast/Austria/Saalbach_Hinterglemm_snow_history.html or https://www.j2ski.com/snow_forecast/Austria/Flachau_snow_history.html for two possible answers. If conditions are poor at that time in the main resorts in Austria they are likely to be poor all over, but most of the main resorts have very good snowmaking. If you are worried, try somewhere with a nearby glacier - for Austria, Zell or Saalbach for Kaprun, Mayrhofen for Hintertux, Schladming for Dachstein, etc. If the conditions are good, the main area will be fine. If not, you're close to somewhere which will be OK.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Every year I go to Val Thorens (one of the 3 Vallées) in France, around the first two weeks of January. We always book in advance, as we have friends who come every year from Australia. VT is the highest ski resort in Europe, and over the past five years, we have never failed to have masses of snow — even when the adjacent valleys are been sparse.

But VT can be cold and bleak (or challenging and magnificent as I like to put it); but anything is better than no snow. And if there is snow in the beautiful tree-full Méribel valley next door, then you just hop over.

But if you can, as others have said, just wait until nearer the time. It’s a quiet period, and there are always deals to be had.
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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!
If flights are a problem, either book flights to a major ski airport or arrange to drive, which costs no more if left till the last minute.
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@skilass, I agree with the Dolomites suggestion. I went to Arabba (Garni Bellavista, hotel of Snowheads parish) first week in January this year and (I think) there had been virtually no snow for about a month yet there were miles and miles of pistes, all in excellent condition with only a sprinkling off the sides. The other parameters of scenery and skiing standard it also nails, as Mr Miles says......
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Ski the Net with snowHeads
Have skied the first wk in January for many years never had real snow problems yet,(always book high level resorts) but Les rosiere has a really good snow record and is a really nice resort and the skiing level should suit you very well
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
As everyone else says in the post, sit and wait till Christmas week before you book, then you can see where the snow is or isn't
I know it makes you bite your fingernails but that's when the best bargains come ripe.
Have a great time.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Great advice. Thanks everyone. I will keep looking at snow reports with baited breathe and get more excited about our trip as the time gets closer. We haven't been for 3 years so this adds to the excitement of it all.
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
@skilass, would agree with the waiting "as long as is sensible" advice as you are not going peak season. I was in Ski Welt / Kitzbühel in January 2018 and there was lots of snow, digging out the car weather, surprised that things had changed by February. I have tended to go to Ski Welt etc either in December when early season conditions have been good or in January. Its good when the weather is cold and not so many people around.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@skilass, +1 for Dolomites. Somewhere on or near to the Sella Ronda circuit, if you like touring different areas during the week.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Somewhere in Paradiski could work. Both La Plagne and Les Arcs have higher villages, offer ski in and out as well as miles of cruisey blues.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
If I were to take a quick stab, Cervinia? High altitude, lots of good cruise reds and blues........
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@skilass, I'm intrigued by your first post, concerning the terrible snow conditions in Scheffau in mid-February, a surprising time of the season to experience bad conditions anywhere reputable. In fact I've checked back through my photos of that season in Saalbach (where I spend all season) to see if anything jogs my memory, but I can't remember anything unusual - unseasonably mild weather, an anticyclone over the Azores, Foehn wind, etc. All my photos, taken in mid- February 2018 simply show smiling faces, great snow, and everyone apparently having a great time. Having said that, although the seasons do become a blur in my memory, I do remember that there was one season in the last few years when the half term week was unusually and surprisingly warm - more like late March weather, with soft snow and lots of busy, mogully pistes; perhaps that was the week you're referring to. From what I remember the conditions last season, during half term, were pretty well perfect.

It's understandable to want to guard against a repetition of that experience by aiming for a high resort. However it does sound unusual, and it's possible for a week of poor conditions to affect the Alps generally, rather than a particular resort. If a warm, southerly wind is blowing up from the Sahara, everywhere will be affected. (I've noticed how the resort often gets the credit or the blame, as the case may be, for whatever the weather was delivering on a particular holiday. I suppose that's natural; if you experience brilliant or terrible conditions in a particular resort, it's going to colour your recollections and judgment of that resort).

There really should be no need to aim for a high resort in early January, when temperatures tend to be at their coldest. Many experienced people will advise you against committing yourself to a high, bleak, treeless resort at that time of the season, in case the weather closes in and ruins your holiday. Delaying your choice may not be the answer, as conditions can change very quickly, sometimes in a day or two.

I agree with @ousekjarr, 's advice above. Even in an unusually bad year for early snow, a major resort with good snow-making infrastructure should be able to provide good, extensive skiing by Christmas, or even the middle of December, let alone early January, and the high probability is that enough natural snowfall will have occurred by then to render the snow-making unnecessary. Proximity to a glacier (the Kitzsteinhorn at Kaprun is only a 25 minute drive for us, but we've never felt any need or inclination to use it until April) might provide some psychological reassurance, but the chances of you wanting or needing to use it in early January are in my opinion extremely remote.

If you want to aim a bit higher than Scheffau, without going to unnecessary extremes, you could consider a slightly higher resort. Saalbach is generally accepted to be an intermediate skier's paradise, with 408km of mainly blue and red pistes. The village sits at 1,003m , over 250m (getting on for 1,000 feet) higher than the likes of Scheffau, Zell am See, Kitzbuehel, etc., so it is at an average altitude for an Austrian resort. Under standard conditions, the extra 250m makes a temperature difference of approximately 1.6 C, which doesn't sound much, but can make the difference between rain and snow, or between wet snow and better snow, or between no snow cannons operating and snow cannons going at full blast. 90% of major runs are covered by snow cannons, and a high proportion of the runs are forested and grass-covered in summer - meaning that they become skiable even after moderate snowfall (no rocks to cover). (Send me a PM, if you would like a copy of my guide to the Ski Circus).

I'm sure that there will be general agreement that orientation of slopes isn't really a factor in early January, when the sun is so weak and low in the sky that it can't really inflict any significant damage, especially as the most vulnerable lower slopes are often shaded by high mountains, and so remain colder for most of the day than the higher slopes. Much of course depends on the resort, and the surrounding mountain topography.

It's probably worth making the point that the snowline is lower in Austria than in the western Alps. This is usually attributed to the distance from the warming influence of the sea and the Gulf Stream, as well as the exposure to different weather systems. An Austrian resort at 1,000m is probably equivalent to a western Alps resort of 1500m, give or take 100m.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@skilass, I will be in La Rosiere on the 4th Jan, I've skied there every New Year for the past 20 years and I've only known 1 year when there wasn't as much snow as usual, but we could still ski and the link to Italy was usually open. If you want glorious scenery with great skiing on over 160 kms of pistes in France and Italy on a single lift pass then you can't go wrong here. The resort is high at 1850 m with the highest pistes starting at 2800m while most of the skiing is above the tree line, there are pistes down to 1176 m through the forest and there are a lot of forested runs in Italy. If you go to www.larosiere.net you'll get lots of info and there are quite a few videos showing what you can expect. La Rosiere is one of the most snow-sure ski stations in France, it's always in the top four resorts, but because it's south facing it's much sunnier than Les Arcs across the valley. In my experience New Year is a great time to ski there and although it's busy - mainly with French and Belgian skiers it's not crowded. I can recommend the Relais du Petit Saint Bernard hotel which is right next to the main lift, that's where I'll be staying but there is a good variety of accommodation form budget up to 4 star.
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skilass wrote:
We are 2 adults ( late 40s).and our 19 year old daughter. We are intermediate skiers who like easy blues and reds with pretty scenery.
Any recommendations for early January?


Ischgl will be fine for snow in Jan (resort open Nov to May) and ideal for blue/red piste skiers. You just might want to pick different apres bars to your daughter
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
10 of us heading to Ischgl on 4th Jan for a “lads” trip. So hoping there will be snow. You may want to avoid the bars we are in as well, age range of our group 55-73, we will be found wherever Horlicks is the beverage of choice.
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@tatmanstours It must have been 3 years ago we were in Scheffau. It was so mild, we were skiing in the pouring rain and very little snow over to Ellmau. So disappointing at peak time in the season and spending big money on travelling at half term. Hopefully January will be better.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
I think La Rosiere sounds a possible place as well as Saalbach, which we last visited, and loved, in 2004. Lots of new possibilities.
Thanks so much for all your suggestions. January will be here before we know it. Can't wait. Leaving the teaching profession and going skiing whenever we like is going to be amazing. Roll on winter.
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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!
@skilass, Freak weather for February. You were unlucky. I wonder how far up it was raining; even in a much higher resort, freakishly mild weather can very occasionally hit.
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Feb 2017 half term was warm in Ski Welt... I was there. I remember driving round to Zell am Ziller to find some altitude, and getting soaked in the rain one day.

However in 7 years of skiing 2-3 times a year, that’s the only time I’ve been rained on. And most of the week was glorious sunshine.

January has a high chance of being bleak high up. I personally would go somewhere with a variety of altitudes to play with.

If a flight needs to be booked - I would book to Zürich or Innsbruck and choose late on from the huge variety of options available from there

Overall, don’t sweat it. There will be amazing snow somewhere, and you’ll be able to find it when most people are going back to work Toofy Grin
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@tatmanstours It was raining pretty much across the full altitude range. Even on the upper slopes it was grim, driving rain. I remember we eventually gave up the fight and went to the pub.
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
I'd go with the Dolomites too, somewhere like Kronplatz. A strategy of 100% snow making seems more reliable these days than hoping for good early snowfall. Their sheltered location on the south side of the Alpine ridge usually mean better weather unless the air mass is coming from the south.
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
1. Zermatt
2. Lech
3. Klosters
4. Wengen
5. Cortina
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
If you want blues, reds & scenery the Dolomites is hard to beat. Loads of snow making if needed, head anywhere around the Sella Ronda and you can't go wrong.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@skilass, you were very unlucky. Skiing in the rain is unpleasant but rare in February less so in March and April. February is usually the most snow sure month, January, especially the early part can be hit and miss though you are unlikely to find rain, more general lack of snow in a poor year.

The normal advice is to head high though as others have pointed out January can be pretty bleak above the tree line. The week after New Year (or in some places Russian New Year) is one of the quietest so easy to wait to see where best conditions might be. If you want to book flights Innsbruck might be a good option as it gives easy access to a lot of the Austrian resorts as well as the Dolomites thus a choice of two different areas with regard to weather and snow conditions.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
It seems the Dolomites get the popular vote from replies to my post - good snow, pretty scenery, lots of runs and you can't beat the Italian food (and wine!)
Lots of new places to consider. Now we just need the snow. I love this forum. Thanks again.
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