Late March snow dumps

A late March snow deluge is rewriting the snow sports calendar. The season has gone from really good, to very average and now to very good again – you could be forgiven for being unsure of how to plan the timing of a corporate ski trip given the uncertainties.

Winter 2022/23 hasn’t been a classic in the Alps, early December was off to a flyer in Austria, but then mild and dry weather seemed to stick over the country for weeks. To the west in Switzerland and France, the conditions were dire – nothing in places. The media were right to pick up on the threats of a changing climate, but their stories were highly generalised – across the Alps there was anything from lots of snow in the south, to nothing in the west. So how do you plan a corporate ski trip when the main ingredient is at times so fickle?

Artificial snow

The media were absolutely right to pick the dramatic closures of Swiss and French ski resorts earlier in the season. These rare events offer an ominous view of the future. But the Alps are a vast formation with an infinite range of micro-climates, many of which are altered further by artificial snow making systems. Without this infrastructure, the ski season would have been impossible in many areas. But for good or bad, snow making is here to stay and despite the bad press, the skiing in Austria in January was anything from acceptable to good.

Height – yes but not always

The safety net was always supposed to be height – elevation, equated to cold, and then to snow. Generally that is true, though there are exceptions – Chamonix, with its cloud piercing Aiguille du Midi ski lift saw a record-breaking lack of precipitation in January. At 3842m, it doesn’t matter how cold it is – if there are no clouds, there is no new snow.

Manage expectations

Overnight snow, followed by knee deep powder, all under blue skies - it’s what everyone wants and a glance at Instagram, it seems everyone gets. And just as with skin tones, front row seats or home makeovers, social media has made everything utterly unrealistic. The truth is and always has been, that snow conditions can't be guaranteed. It is mighty hard to do, but expectations need to be managed – on almost every corporate ski trip, the lunches will be perfect, the après ski legendary and the snow anywhere from present to phenomenal. And sometimes it is the client that gets to post the pics of otherworldly snow deluges.

In some ways, the demise of longer, colder winters has brought more stability to them, with artificial snow creating the tracks back to resort that often survive until the end of the season, even when the snow hasn’t fallen from the sky. This winter we took a large group to Morzine-Avoriaz in France, the Morzine ski area was entirely closed due to a lack of snow, so we skied in the adjacent Avoriaz ski area, with its higher altitude, and had great snow. In the same resort last winter, we had March skiing in t-shirts, followed a week later by another event which had the best powder skiing of the season. Both groups had truly memorable ski trips. Plan to be surprised!

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