It has now been some time since there has been any significant widespread snow fall in the Alps, but that is about to change. The high pressure areas which dominated the Alps this week are starting to show signs of weakness and they will give way to a western current with depressions next week.

Colder air reaches the western Alpine region on Monday night. The influx of cold air is accompanied by heavy snow in the French Alps. It will give snow in the mountains above 1300m, then 1000m at the end of the night. This first disturbance will give 15 to 20 cm of snow at 1500m in the French Alps. The snow will soon extend to Switzerland and Austria in the late evening and early Tuesday morning. The snow level is initially somewhere around 1300 meters.

New disturbances are moving rapidly across the Alps from west to east. On Tuesday, much colder air rushes into the Alps from the west. As a result, the snowfall limit eventually drops to well below the 1000m. This second episode of snow fall can give between 20 and 25 cm in the ski stations in the French-Swiss border region at around 1000m.

On Wednesday, the weather will still remain very unstable with new snowfall expected around 1000m. This new episode should give 5 to 10 cm of additional snow to 1200m.

The most snow is clearly destined for the French Alps next week. By the end of the week locally there will be in excess of 110cm. A lot of snow is expected in ski reosrts between the Mont Blanc region and Zermatt. Paradiski and Val Thorens may welcome up to 120cm at places.

In Switzerland we expect between 70 cm in the border region with France, up to 50 cm in Berner Oberland. In Austria, most snow falls clearly in the west. A thick fresh cover of 40 cm is very likely.

For Tirol and Salzburgerland, the expectation with quantities of between 20 and 35 cm is slightly more limited. On the south side, most snow falls clearly in the western corner. Amounts are likely to be around 45cm. Further east towards the Dolomites we expect a welcome 15 cm of fresh snow.

New active disruptions are expected in the French Alps, especially Thursday and Saturday. The snow limit should rise higher in altitude and be around 1800m. These new snowfalls could give 30 to 50 cm of additional snow above 1800m.

Known for it’s traditional atmosphere, beautiful backdrop and wide meandering slopes Les Houches is often under-rated as a ski destination in Chamonix Valley. However, if you prefer a slower pace of life away from the hustle and bustle of Chamonix, enjoy breathtaking scenery, yet still have a good selection of challenging slopes then head to Les Houches at the bottom of the valley. Les Houches is perfect for families, progressing beginners or cruising intermediates as there are many mellow runs descending through magical snow covered fir forests. Moreover, Les Houches is your best bet for open lifts on a powder day.

The village of Les Houches sits at an altitude of 1002 metres. It’s the lowest ski resort in the Chamonix valley and the first ski resort you’ll reach as you drive up and enter the valley from the motorway. The Les Houches ski resort, with over 55km of beautiful tree lined runs, stands at the foot of Mont Blanc offering a spectacular backdrop to your ski experience.

Perfect for families with it’s wide, blue pistes and it’s dedicated kids Ski Camp play area, it also has enough reds, twelve in total, to keep intermediate skiers happy. Beginners will love the gentle beginners area at the Prarion and more advanced skiers can try their hand on the famous world cup black run – the Kandahar.

The Bellevue Cable Car in the centre of Les Houches brings you to the Bellevue plateau (1800m). The Prarion gondola, further on through the village, takes you up to 1900m. The Prarion lift shunts you up to the heart of the ski area. It’s here you’ll find the beginners slope accessed by the Ecole 4 man chair, lots of gentle blue graded pistes and the Ski Camp play area for kids. Five lovely broad blues meander tamely down through a ‘forêt du sapins’ on the Saint Gervais side of the mountain. With plenty of easy blue pistes, Les Houches is much less intimidating than the rest of the valley and a great place for beginner skiers to progress up from the Espace Debutant.

Les Houches

For intermediate skiers Les Houches offers a whopping 12 red pistes. Access via Bellevue leads you straight onto three short reds down to the Grands Bois drag lift. On the Saint Gervais side, at the end of both the blue graded Chamois and the Abbaye pistes, there’s the option of further vertical decent via two red pistes, the Plan du Crêt or the Plancerts. Both take you to the base of the long, 40 year old Plancerts drag lift (1370m).

With a vertical drop 900 metres, the home runs back to the village are quite long, and unlike any other ski mountain in Chamonix, Les Houches has not one but three different home piste gradients. Take your pick from blue, red or black pistes to get you home. You can ski down to either car park, Bellevue or Prarion.

Les Houches is renowned in the valley for being excellent on bad weather days. Because so many of Les Houches’s runs are in between trees, it’s a great place to ski when visibility is low or during high winds. Also if there have been high amounts of snow falling, and avalanche risk is high, many or sometimes all of the other Chamonix lifts may be closed. This is when Les Houches champions. It is rarely closed. Les Houches is relatively snow sure for it’s altitude. All the runs are mainly north facing and hold the snow really well. Lower slopes are prone to rain when temperatures soar.

Getting there

It takes around an hour to transfer from Geneva to Les Houches. From Geneva airport, either organise a direct resort transfer through one of Chamonix’s many transfer companies. We had a very good experience with Chamonix-based Cham-van.

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