Category Archives: Snow report

Hello snow, goodbye cows

Guest blog by Maev.

Snowfall over the weekend blanketed the Alps in its first winter coat of the season.

The Alps in its winter coat.

Winter has come to our valley.  The flaming autumnal shades of the alpine forests have been quieted by a generous sprinkling of the white stuff, the comforting smell of burning wood fills the air at dusk as home-fires are lit, hands have disappeared into gloves or pockets, and the valley is suddenly extraordinary quiet. For most of the cows are gone. The melodious/incessant clanging of their gigantic brass bells (because you either love this sound or it drives you mad) has ceased as local farmers made the decision this past weekend to put their precious livestock away. I can’t help but feel sorry for these bovine beasts that get the very best of the Swiss spring, summer and autumn grazing their way down the lush mountainside, but are interned in barns for the full length of the winter.

As the snow fell purposefully on Sunday and farmers coerced their cattle off the land, I, and several thousand other runners, braved the elements and battled our way down the course of the Lausanne half-marathon from Vevey to Lausanne, following the footsteps of the marathon runners, who were on their return journey. With the temperature peaking at 1 degree Celsius, gusty winds whipping off Lac Leman, intermittent blocs of snowfall, and the resulting small crowd support, it was a tough and unseasonably cold race. Temperatures at this time of year are usually pegged at 11 degrees. I’m so grateful for merino wool.

As I trudged through small villages and past frosty vineyards, friends back in Valais wasted no time in dusting off their skis and touring boots and took to the pristine hills. While the lower slopes are obviously still pretty thinly spread, one can’t help but get excited that this appears to be the beginning of a base,  at least up high. And weather conditions are staying cold for the foreseeable future. TeleVerbier have announced that the ski lifts will be turning this weekend. There’s no doubting that the ski season is suddenly, excitingly, upon us. It’s time to swop out those running shoes for skis as our winter playground reveals itself. I have to say, I’m glad I’m not a cow.

Bramble Ski only has a handful of properties left for Christmas and New Year. If you’re thinking about a white festive season contact Bramble Ski urgently to secure your luxury holiday.

Photographs by Barry Cox.

Skiing this weekend has been postponed

After our previous post we`ve now just discovered that Verbier will not be opening this weekend. So if you were planning to ski, then you `ll have to get yourself to the top of the mountain. While we don`t have official confirmation of the reason yet, we suspect that the concern is the lack of snow. Once again we`ve had a spell of amazing blue skies and pretty warm weather which has done any aspiration of an early opening no favours. There is the possibility of some snow in the forecast for Thursday/Friday so we still may get some turns in … earned turns mind you.

Skiing in Verbier commences this Friday …

There is about a foot of snow in the north bowl down to Lac de Vaux.

With the lifts opening in Verbier on Friday I decided to hike up to Attelas this weekend to have a look at how much snow is in the Lac de Vaux bowl.

We parked at Le Carrefour and hiked up under the new detachable six-man chair lift that has replaced the old La Combe and Mayentzet chairs. All work on the new lift is now concentrated on the base station. The pylons, the lift cable and the top station are all completed. Linking up with the Funispace, Les Attelas and Chaux-Express, this new high-speed lift called La Combe 1 is going to prove a great alternative to Médran as an access to the mountain. See the full Verbier lift map here. Below are some images of the new lift …

From Ruinettes we decided to pick the direct route up to Attelas and climbed under Les Attelas (commonly called the ‘James Blunt lift’) . The steep, sometimes hair-raising pitch, finally gave way to the somewhat flatter boulder-field gulley and it was here, bathed in sunshine, that we were rewarded for our route selection. Circumambulating the rocky outcrop above us, we spotted a majestic Ibex. As I clambered up another steep pitch to try and get a better angle of him, he gracefully obliged, posed for a few more minutes and then disappeared around the corner.

Alpine Ibex.

With little to no snow on the sun-drenched slopes heading up to Attelas and no snow in the forecast, I began wondering how skiing was going to be possible at Lac de Vaux this coming weekend. But the sheltered and noth-facing bowl, in contrast, has some decent coverage, no doubt aided by hard-working snow canons. There is about a foot of snow in the bowl down toward the lake. Don’t bring your best skis out this weekend, but there is enough to get a few turns in.

From here, we completed the loop around the Attelas peak and hiked to Col de Mines noting a number of small releases into Valon D’Arbi en-route. Emerging at the col in the late afternoon sun, the fiery colours of autumn beckoned us back down to Verbier.

Photographs by Barry Cox.

 

Early season turns in Verbier …

Below are a couple of shots taken this past Sunday (october 9th) when staff-member Sarah MacPherson skinned up from Verbier to get some early season turns following the storm that blew through from the north … Looks like winter!

Photographs by Sarah MacPherson.

Snow arrived this weekend

New snow Bruson

New snow and soft morning light.

Happy Monday. This weekend a low pressure system from the north hit the Alps of Switzerland and brought with it low temperatures and precipitation. Unconfirmed reports claim up to 40cm of snow fell in some places in the alpine. On Saturday it snowed quite consistently in Verbier and we woke up on Sunday to a clearing weather pattern that left us with a beautiful blue-bird day.

Always eager, a couple of Bramble Ski’s staff headed into the mountains to enjoy the bounty of snowfall. Check out our Facebook page for images of Sarah’s first day skiing of the season and Phil’s snowshoe hike.

The temperatures in the sun were actually very warm yesterday and the snowline quickly receded. Sunny conditions and marginally warmer temperatures are forecast for the rest of the week so I don’t expect the snow will last, however, it was great to get a taste of winter and to see the Bramble Ski crew taking early advantage.

Photographs by Barry Cox.

The snow in British Columbia’s interior keeps on coming

Since early January we have been blessed with snow in Kicking Horse. Wave after wave of storm has pulsated through from the Pacific coast and have delivered what locals say is more like the winters of old.

Today (Sunday Feb 13th) has been another truly spectacular day. After a 48-hour storm with high winds that delivered close to 50cm of blower champagne powder at mid-mountain, clearing clouds this morning, dissipating winds and moderate temperatures culminated in a perfect day of skiing. Conditions on every aspect in the resort were superb and in some of the wind-loaded alpine chutes outright exhilirating. Of course for the more daring-do it was one of those days to tackle runs and drops that have been eye-balled for weeks, even seasons. On numerous occassions I witnessed huge 30-40ft cliffs hucked, followed by the typically Canadian response from all who witnessed it, a cacophany of hollars and cheers.

Last weekend Kicking Horse Mountain Resort hosted its third annual Wrangle the Chute competition. The event is judged on its own unique blend of big mountain riding, park and mid-west rodeo bull riding, in the form of the mountain’s home-made furry mascot E.J. Hector.

Sir James Hector was a Scottish geolist, naturalist and surgeon who accompanied the Palliser Expedition with the mission of exploring new railway routes for the Canadian Pacific Railway. Surveying the pass that the railway now follows east, Hector’s horse bolted for the hills hoofing him in the chest and rendering him unconscious. The story goes that his companions mistook him for dead and prepared his grave. Hector came round before they prematurely buried him and the name Kicking Horse has stuck for the river and pass they were exploring.

E.J Hector, is a bucking bronco that is strapped and suspended between two snowcats for the final phase of the competition. Competitors picked a line down the face above the Heaven’s Door Yurt in Crystal Bowl, aired a huge kicker and then rode E.J. to gain maximum points. The event was won by Nelson-based Mathew Montandon whose 360 degree spin off of a 50ft cliff won him the judges favour. Below are a selection of my images from Day 1 of the two-day event.

With more precipitation expected Monday and Tuesday, followed by sun on Wednesday and Thursday, it is going to be a stellar week to be on holiday in Kicking Horse country.

Photographs by Barry Cox.