Picture-perfect alpine mountains with snow-capped peaks and gleaming white pistes… snowflakes drifting down through a velvet night sky to melt on an outstretched tongue… there are so many romantic mental images that skiing in Les Menuires conjures. However, the very weather that ensures a winter playground of snow for all of us to enjoy can also cause serious health risks to skiers and snowboarders.
Here are some important weather conditions that you should be aware of before you set off skiing. In Les Menuires, you may experience a number of these tricky conditions during your holiday, but just remember that preparation is key.
Top tips before you set off:
• Familiarise yourself with the general layout of the mountain and its trails before you head out
• Stretch, eat and stay hydrated throughout the day – take water with you
The most dangerous weather phenomenon that can affect you while you’re out on the slopes is a blizzard, otherwise known as a severe snow storm. Not only does the snow affect your vision but the moisture in the air quickly saps your body heat, which is further reduced by the wind blowing more cold air and snow at you.
If a blizzard is forecast during your holiday skiing in Les Menuires, it is highly recommended that stay inside out of the severe weather. A day spent wrapped up snugly in one of our catered chalets will distract you from pining for the slopes.
This is a tricky old issue: flat light is when a thick layer of cloud in the sky refracts the light from the sun, meaning that no shadows are thrown across the snow. It causes difficulties because shadows usually allow you to make out bumps, shapes or changes of gradient in the flat, white snow; when there are no shadows, everything looks the same. It can play havoc with your perception of depth and speed as well – you might think you’re racing along when really you’re crawling at a snail’s pace, or vice versa, or it may be difficult to judge when you’re going to land if you attempt a jump.
There are a few things you can try if you find you’re having difficulties with flat light. If possible, try to ski below the tree line, as the trees will help to give more definition to the snow. Keeping close to the side of the piste may be helpful, as piste signs and other features can provide useful references.
First-time skiers are often surprised how easily you can get sunburnt when you’re out and about on the mountain – maybe it is counterintuitive to put sun cream on when you’re wearing so many layers!
Sunburn is a pressing problem because, as well as sunshine streaming down on your head, sunlight bounces up off the snow and exposes you to more UV than you might realise. Also, of course, you are up at high altitudes where there is less atmosphere to absorb the sun’s rays. It is important that you wear sun cream while you’re out skiing, even when there isn’t any sunshine.
So never fear – with these handy tips, you will be prepared for any weather eventuality when you go skiing in Les Menuires.
Belinda Smythson works for Ski Amis, a specialist ski travel agency and booking service that has been helping avid skiers craft their perfect winter holiday for over a quarter of a century. With a team that has years of experience skiing in Les Menuires, Three Valleys, Paradiski, Espace Killy and Chamonix Valley, Ski Amis is the go-to company for winter sports fans looking for a holiday of a lifetime.