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Good weather and great snow for Meribel

Great skiing still available as season draws to a close

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Martin Hemsley | Meribel Reporter | Published: 19 Apr 2019

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Good weather and great snow for Meribel

Lovely snow conditions continue here in Méribel, all the way to the end of this ski season. Yes, the weather is a little more spring-like now, with warmer weather during the day. The snow freezing every night up at higher levels helps prolong the life of the pistes. There is no doubting that summer is on the way, however we are certainly enjoying the last few days of the season.

The pistes remain reasonably quiet, even though it's the local holidays, and Easter holidays as well. The resort has a much more relaxed atmosphere compared to the main school holiday periods earlier in the winter. The official snow depths are 50cm at 1450m, and 200cm up at 2700m. There are still 52 pistes open out of a total of 64. This is providing us with more than enough skiing here in the Méribel valley, not forgetting that there is way more available over in the Courchevel valley, and the Belleville valley including Val Thorens.

So where is the best snow? At high altitude, in particular north-facing aspects as ever due to the spring conditions. Having said that, some of the much quieter pistes, away from the main through routes, keep their condition much longer into the day. For example, I skied down the two blue pistes of Choucas leading onto Gelinotte late afternoon recently. Even though Gelinotte descends all the way down to Chaudanne, it was perfectly skiable because it was nowhere as chopped up as other pistes. Mouflon and Combe Tougnete are keeping good quality snow as well.

Another popular sport alongside alpine skiing is ski touring. This is where skins are attached to the base of the touring skis, which allows uphill walking without sliding backwards. It is a growing sport for a few reasons, two main ones being that it is extremely good for fitness (walking uphill at high altitude certainly gets the ticker pumping and the lungs blowing), and the other is that touring enables you to access areas away from ski lifts, ie way out into the back country. This gives you solitude, incredible views, and untouched snow. That's quite an appealing list for some.

I recently caught up with my friend Ian Saunders (who is a colleague and fellow British ski instructor at the ESF ski school) for a days ski touring. Our original plan was to head over to Val Thorens, skin up the Glacier de Chaviere, and pop over onto Méribel's Glacier de Gebroulaz, and ski back to Méribel-Mottaret. A popular and iconic route for ski tourers in the area. However, as soon as we got closer to the glacier, the wind was blowing horrifically. So we decided to abort that plan and come up with another, more sheltered from the wind.

We stopped for a quick coffee to warm up, and then racked our brains. Plan B was soon hatched: the Lac du Lou itinerary from the Cime de Caron direction. This is an area that we love to take our clients, but hadn't been possible since early January this year due to a technical problem with the Cime Caron cable car. We had our touring skis and a bit of local knowledge to help get us up there. So how was the snow?

At the top we couldn't believe our luck, with some deep winter powder snow as shown in the photos. What a reward. However, things then changed. The snow deteriorated to what is best described (and probably optimistic) as educational. Thankfully, further down we found some deliciously transformed spring snow before finding a picnic spot at one of those small ruins in the middle of nowhere. We had the solitude, we had the incredible views, and untouched (changeable) snow.

The Méribel lifts close in a few days' time on Easter Monday. It's been an epic winter with very good snow conditions again this year, alongside a higher percentage of sunny days compared to the previous season. Yes, it is a shame the season is coming to end, but that's ok; we can soon start the countdown to the 2019/20 winter. How great does that sound?

Read more from our reporter Martin on his website.