Glacier skiing entering its second season |

With the longer days and the milder weather reaching the valley floors of the Alps, the glacier skiing areas are now back in vogue again as skiers and snowboarders head back to the cloud-piercing heights after the bitter cold of December, January and February forced the annual interlude for many.

Hardly deserted but certainly less popular, the glacier skiing areas of the Alps are emerging from their quieter period over peak winter when the plummeting temperatures can thin the crowds of many but the hardier skiers and snowboarders. Traffic on the glaciers peaks during the autumn as the ski world awakens and few places can compete with their snow sure 3000m+ slopes in early season. The sun disappears, temperatures plummet and the full range of ski areas opens as Christmas approaches and the crowds disperse to lower lying ski areas. As spring approaches and the lower resort enjoy soft, snow the glaciers, some as much as 2km above the lower ski areas still have superb dry snow, preserved by the frigid air and gargantuan ice shelves that the ski areas reside on. And with the extra sunlight and the bitter cold retreating, so the skiers and snowboarders return to the high-altitude slopes of the glaciers, en-masse.

Traditionally, March and April offer fully open ski areas with operations only really scaling back from mid-May. The difference in snow quality between the glaciers and the lower slopes is often stark at this time of the year. Over the weekend, the Stubai Glacier was serving up powder lines in cold, clear weather. Only the lowest ski routes, down at 1750m showed any signs of wear, the rest were huge, wide motorways of snow. 4.5m or nearly 15 feet of snow currently resides on the upper slopes of the Stubai Glacier and whilst 2019 has been an epic winter for snow, it is not unusual to have that level of snow accumulation at this time of the year.

Autumn can be a great time to be on the glacier ski areas – the thrill of a new season ahead, possibly combined with Christmas markets and Christmas parties makes early season a special time. But in terms of snow quality, whilst the lower resorts are surrendering their snow to the rivers, the glaciers are still offering near perfect groomed slopes of powder days, meaning spring can be the best time of all to be on the glacier ski areas of the Alps.

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