For those of us with a passion for winter sports, the long hot summer months can feel like an annoying obstacle between us and the snowy fun of the winter ski season.
But if you are one of those who pines away the summer months waiting for news of the first snowfall, then I’ll let you into a little secret: some of the Alpine ski resorts open for an autumn season as early as September!
The great thing about skiing during the early season is that most people don’t even know it’s possible, so the slopes are virtually empty (except for national teams training for the World Cup season which begins in October) and there are no queues for the lifts.
Of course there is a risk – particularly as early as September, that mild weather and rain will spoil the fun. But most of the resorts open at this time of year offer a combination of glacier skiing and, into October and November, a decent covering of artificial snow which mitigates the impact the weather can have.
What to Expect From Early Season Snow
It’s impossible to know what the snow conditions will be like in the early season. After all, the resorts are dependent on early snow falls and cold weather to open an extensive number of runs, and these are far from guaranteed at this time of year.
Skiers looking for the best conditions may want to think about booking last minute deals based on snowfall. The benefit of the early winter sports season is that the sun is relatively weak at this time of year, so, unlike in the spring, it cannot ruin a good snowfall quickly. This gives you plenty of time to get a last minute flight out there and enjoy the fresh powder.
If you are booking in advance you will find that only the highest ski resorts open for the early season, and these usually have access to a glacier with snow machines which will guarantee skiing even in a mild autumn.
Where to Go for the Best Early Snow
Fans of all winter sports, from Alpine and Nordic skiing to snowboarding, will find plenty to keep them satisfied in the early season as long as they choose carefully where to go for the best snow. Austria is a good bet for early skiing with more resorts open during October than any other country.
Here’s our rundown of the best Alpine resorts for early season skiing:
• Zermatt (Switzerland)
• Saas Fee (Switzerland)
• Hintertux glacier (Austria)
• Pitztal (Austria)
• Kaunertal (Austria)
• Val Senales (Italy)
• Kitzsteinhorn glacier (Austria)
• Mölltal glacier (Austria)
• Solden glacier (Austria)
• Stubai glacier (Austria)
• Dachstein (Austria)
• Glacier 3000 (Switzerland)
• Titlis glacier (Switzerland)
• Vorab glacier (Switzerland)
• Diavolezza glacier (Switzerland)
• Tignes (France)
• Cervinia (Italy)
For winter sports fans willing to take a chance on the snow conditions, early season skiing can offer some great opportunities at very reasonable pre-season prices. The benefit will be that you will have the pistes to yourself and can enjoy trying out all the new season’s equipment while it’s still brand new. Not to mention the fact that, if you fit a ski holiday in in October, you’ll have plenty of time for a least a couple more before the season ends!
Patrick Chong is the Managing Director of InsureMore, an award-winning team of specialists in global single trip, family and annual travel insurance including winter sports policies. Besides offering great deals on travel insurance, Patrick also collects and shares the best free travel competitions to help his clients get the most out of their holidays.
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