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Good snow conditions throughout the resorts as warm weather continues

The gift for skiers that keeps on giving

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Sam Birch | Les Arcs Reporter | Published: 24 Mar 2017


Good snow conditions throughout the resorts as warm weather continues

This week Les Arcs has seen a few clouds interrupting the sunshine, helping to reduce direct sunlight and keep the pistes in order. Visibility has remained decent, with little (if any) low-lying mist. 

The slopes above 1800-2000 metres are really very good indeed and great for a long, hard shred. Snow coverage across the resorts is generally soft, becoming slushier in the lowest resorts by the afternoon time.

As we approach the weekend, darker clouds are beginning to form and the wind has increased, closing the top half of the Transarc gondola lift on Thursday afternoon. There have been a few snowflakes in the air today which, indications suggest, will be followed by light snow on Friday and a significant dump on Saturday night. Although the daytime freezing level is currently above 2000 metres, this should also drop with the incoming weather front, ensuring that the snow lays well below the 2000 metre mark.

Best Sectors

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Typically, the nicest on-piste conditions are currently to be found at higher altitudes, with snow underfoot softening as the day progresses.

The upper section of the Peisey-Vallandry area is a treat, with Grive (blue) running very consistently and nearby Blanchot (red) being similarly quick, if not a little bumpier. Across all resorts there is often some “chop” where the softer snow has formed into mini moguls. This is often most obvious on steeper blue runs where moguls seem to form quicker than they can be groomed out (usually due to increased traffic and cautiousness of users).

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Towards Arc 1800, off the Derby lift, Belette is pretty quick although I saw a couple of snowboarders get spectacularly caught out by soft drifts forming on the steepest incline. The key to this run, and Renard (blue) which you can also loop on the Derby lift, is keeping your legs soft and picking a smooth line. The left-hand side of Renard from its starting point is flatter than the rest, as quicker riders use it as a highway from the Grand Renard run towards Peisey-Vallandry.

Most of the blue runs on this side of the mountain are in lovely condition. Charmettoger and Grands Mélèzes are quite predictable until the final approach to resort, which continues to be unnecessarily mogulled. Belvedere and Arpette are generally firmer, and thus easier to ride, but even these get softer lower down (and later in the day). Plan Bois (also blue) is actually fairly pleasant, whilst not particularly quick. Although the slopes can become borderline wet below 1800 metres, making them slower, there is practically no unpleasant stickiness at this stage.

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The Arc 2000 bowl is difficult to fault, with the ubiquitous altitude helping to keep the runs firmer and diminish the effects of the sun. If anything, some of the red runs from the Col de la Chal towards the two main resorts can be a little sheer in patches. The snow is very good and, with the summit of the Aiguille Rouge maintaining a depth of over 2 metres, it is likely to stay about for a long while hence. The forecast snow over the next few days should benefit this area particularly.

Worst Sectors

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Although the vast majority of pistes are still open, a couple of the runs have been closed over the last week. These are usually the steeper, lower, black runs which need constant freezing temperatures to maintain snow adherence. Rouelles towards Arc 1600, Ecureuils over in Peisey and Bosses from the Derby lift are all shut. Of these, Bosses is in the best condition but, as it is quite thin, will suffer less traffic than the others.

The popular red runs from the top of the Vagère lift, Vagère and Golf, are beginning to look a little brown from virtually the top to the bottom. Vagère in particular is closed below Belvedere, and has a very obvious thin section halfway down which is best avoided.

The Clair Blanc (red, but I have literally no idea why it is not a black) run from the Arpette peak is beginning to degrade at the edges and there had been a small “snow slip” from the off-piste onto the right-hand side. It is best tackled by expert skiers only.

There is still some half-decent off-piste available, but most of it is not as soft or fun as it looks. There are a few short sections which are acceptable for traversing between pistes, but the actual runs are usually riding better. The main exception to this rule is the snow-field above Peisey-Vallandry (around the Grive and Blanchot pistes); it is customarily quite difficult to discern what is a piste and what is not a piste, and that is a good thing.

Coming Soon

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We are likely to experience most types of weather before the start of next week. This should bring new snow to the upper echelons and may cause some disruption to the highest lifts in the very short term.

There will still be regular sunny spells (keep applying the sun cream) and the temperatures are not going to plunge dramatically, so I doubt we will be digging out the thermal underwear again. As always, keep an eye on the weather forecasts and the lifts to get the most out of every day.

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