The strongest El Niño in 50 years has been predicated for this winter. The deputy director of the NOAA (National Oceania and Atmospheric Administration) Climate Prediction Center, Mike Halpert, has reported “this could be among the strongest El Niños in the historical record dating back to 1950.”
Experiencing an El Niño this winter is awesome news for skiers and snowboarders as this could mean we receive much more snow than an average winter... and more snow means more powder days!
Every 2–7 years an area of the tropical regions in the Pacific Ocean warms up and distorts the weather patterns in the western Ocean, including Australia, North and South America and even parts of Europe and Africa, this is called El Niño.
The National Oceania and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) recent report predicts the El Niño will persist through winter before settling down in spring. There have already been signs of the start of El Niño this summer, such as the record number of storms during the central Pacific hurricane season.
The 2 strongest previous events were in 1982-83 and 1997-98, in 1997-98 there was powder day after powder day and amazing conditions across the Alps. Now the World Meteorological Organisation is predicting that this phenomenon could be one of the strongest on record. “At the moment, this year’s El Niño is stronger than it was at this time of year in 1997” - Bill Patzert (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory climatologist) It’s had been reported that the start of winter in December and January will be quite mild, then in February we will see a change to a colder winter that will most likely feature several storms and significant snow.
California - Resorts could receive between 30-40% more precipitation. This could mean great things for ski holidays in Heavenly, Northstar, Mammoth and Lake Tahoe. Colorado – After a wetter than usual spring, the trend should continue through the winter to create a much more seasonable winter than last year. Vail Resorts are optimistic for a fantastic winter in their resorts, including Park City, Vail, Breckenridge and Beaver Creek. An El Niño often means that Europe is prone to heavy rain and storms and a colder than average winter.
If you are looking for the best snow this season, take a read of our top 5 snow sure ski resorts in Europe
Black ski runs are the most advanced pistes on the mountain, suited for experienced skiers and snowboarders that can tackle this tricky terrain. Some resorts even go beyond the black piste with double black diamond runs for experts only. I’ve done my fair share of black pistes in the Alps, but as a snowboarder my favourites may differ to a skiers, so with help from our expert ski team: Sales Director, Adam Johnson, Head of Ski Product, James Box and Ski Team Leaders, Nick and Scotty, we’ve put together the ultimate top 5 black runs in Europe. From beginner blacks to harakiri-extreme pistes, you’ll feel like a ski champion after executing these advanced slopes.
5. Aiguille Rouge, Les Arcs, France A Black/Red run for starters If your ski legs aren’t warmed up yet, they will be after this. From the top of Aiguille Rouge at 3226m you can take the epic 7 km Aiguille Rouge run down 2000 vertical metres to the village of Villaroger. It’s a mix of terrain starting as a black run for the first half, then a red piste through the trees for the remainder of the run. The steepest section is at the top, after that it feels more like a red run (a blackish red?)
4. Saslong, Selva, Italy
A world class thrill The World Cup Saslong run from Selva down into St Christina ‘is awesome’ says James. It’s not a difficult black run, as there a steeps followed by flats, followed by steeps, etc. So if you are flying down the piste you can get lots of air just as the downhill racers do when the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup comes to Val Gardena. Extreme fun paired with the beautiful scenery and the stunning mountain range backdrop.
3. La Sache, Espace Killy, France Not for the faint hearted AJ: My favourite black run in the Espace Killy is La Sache. There is a big caveat on this though. It must be done before lunch or maybe at lunchtime when the pistes are emptier. Some of the narrower and steeper sections get very crowded with skiers negotiating the monster moguls that form during the day that makes it a nightmare later in the day. Just before lunch is ideal because there is a great little Savoyard restaurant in Tignes-Les-Brévières called La Sachette that you can stop at after. At 1550m, this is the lowest point in the whole Espace Killy and therefore the warmest and best for dining outdoors. Scotty: The first time you do La Sache you just wonder where the hell you are going to end up, it’s steep, bendy but awesome. 2. Grand Couloir, Courchevel, France
Terror at the top
At the top of Saulire at 2700m there is just one of the famous Courchevel couloirs marked on a piste map as a run, the Grand Couloir. This famous piste is often high on the list for the scariest black run in the world and can get extremely mogully if it hasn’t snowed in a while. To get to the Grand Couloir there is a narrow ridge that gets icy and grooved so you can’t turn your skis to slow down. As you pick up speed the ridge gets steeper and bumpier. I’ve seen quite a few skiers lose their nerve and bail out at this stage but if you hold your nerve there is a small space to stop at the end of the track. The GC is steep to start but it quickly widens, it is steeper if you keep to skier’s right and stay in the shadow to get the best snow.
1. Chassoure – Tortin, Verbier, Switzerland
The possibilities are endless
From the Chassoure peak there are a few options to make your descent, depending on the snow fall and conditions these slopes can change daily. From the top you can drop straight in and face the moguls of ‘the wall’ or traverse along and ski down when you see a preferred route. The 700m track takes you down to Tortin where you can head up toward Mont Fort, or tackle the Chassoure-Tortin run again. This was described as a ‘skiers dream’ by one of the team, but beware as this is world renowned as an extreme ski run.
If you're looking to tantalise your extreme taste buds further, here is a quick rundown of more brilliant black pistes in Europe: For Starters: Piste 21 (under Chairlift 1), Kitzbühel, wide black run with flatter sections For Excitement: Through the tunnel in Alpe D’Huez …… stop… out the door…. ARRRHH. Beware, it’s steep. For Fear Factor: Anything down Mont Gele in Verbier. For Endurance: Point de Vue at Grand Montets in Chamonix, the run goes on forever. For Mogul Mania: Top of the Valluga in St Anton, it’s about half a mile of moguls! Gulp factor: Pan du Fou, Nendaz. If you’re a chicken then you turn right:
With Springtime fast approaching and bluebird days becoming more and more frequent, we’ve put together a list of our top resorts for Spring skiing. At this time of year, the higher altitude resorts and those with glaciers are the best to visit, as snow conditions stay preserved for longer - many even offer all year round glacier skiing.
Snow forecast over the next 9 days: 31cm Opening dates: November - May
Snow forecast over the next 9 days: 54cm Opening dates: All Year Round
Snow forecast over the next 9 days: 46cm Opening dates: November - July
Opening dates: November - May
Snow forecast over the next 9 days: 36cm Opening dates: November - April
Snow forecast over the next 9 days: 37cm Opening dates: December - May
Opening dates: All Year Round
Snow forecast over the next 9 days: 42cm Opening dates: October - May
Snow forecast over the next 9 days: 8cm Opening dates: November - May
Snow forecast over the next 9 days: 31cm Opening dates: October - April
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