Don't want to wait until Winter to Ski? Check out these Early-Opening Resorts
That glorious summer sun is still shining in the Alps, and while it may seem like a crime to wish it away, we just can’t stop dreaming about putting some planks on to our feet and speeding down a mountainside. Whilst most resorts have their official openings mid-December, many are letting the keenest riders get their fill as early as October. We’ve got the info on some of our favourite early season resorts, as well as early opening dates for more major resorts around the alps. A lot of the resorts shown have early ski seasons thanks to glaciers, but some will partially open depending on snow conditions, so make sure you check with the resorts themselves before heading out there, as dates are subject to change.
Sitting above Tignes, the Grande Motte glacier offers some of the most snow-sure early season skiing in France at an altitude of 3450m. Once the glacier has a decent snow base (end of September/ start of October) the ski area opens for those wishing to get some runs in before winter arrives. This year the glacier opened on October 1st. The lower slopes generally open at the end of November.
With the village sitting at a comfy 2050m and skiing up to 3480m, the height of Cervinia usually allows it to open in late October. With the best snow record in Italy, and guaranteed skiing on the glacier it shares with Zermatt, Cervinia is one of the best bets for some early season riding. This year they opened on October 22nd and are celebrating the 80th anniversary of the opening of their first lift.
The glacier here is probably your safest bet for an early ski session if you can handle the limited terrain. Open 365 days a year, Hintertux has some of the steepest glacier skiing in Europe as well as one of the best early season terrain parks which opened October 1st.
Val Thorens, France
With nearly 100% of the skiing above 2000m and three of the lifts taking you beyond 3000m, Val Thorens is renowned for its early and late season skiing. Even without much snowfall, the altitude means the snow cannons have plenty of cold nights to create some decent layers. This year, opening day is scheduled for November 26th.
This resort celebrates the start of their season unlike any other in Europe. By the time the annual free concert is ready to roll (past acts include Rihanna, Lionel Richie and the Beach Boys), there is plenty of snow on the pistes. This year, the opening date is set for November 26th.
Saas Fee, Switzerland
Like neighbouring Zermatt,Saas Fee is a traditional traffic-free resort with high glacier skiing, though with a far homelier atmosphere. The glacier is in use through the summer and has a world class terrain park and enough varied, steep terrain to allow race teams to train.
Other Resorts with early opening dates:
Châtel: Weekends in November and December
Courchevel: Partial Opening December 3rd
Davos & Klosters: November 18th
Laax: December 3rd
Les Deux Alpes: November and December
Les Gets: October 10th-November 11th
Meribel: December 5th
Obergurgl: November 17th
Pila: November 27th
Saalbach: December 2nd
Verbier: November 12th
Whilst early season skiing may not be everyone’s cup of tea, there are many benefits – uncrowded slopes, cheap accommodations, discounted lift passes and the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the world’s premier skiers as they prepare for winter. If waiting for winter is just a bit too much for you, we think you should give autumn skiing a go!
Read more here:
Nidski Resort Guides