With the weather so unsettled over the last couple weeks it looked as if the last week of the season was going to stay cloudy with flat light and mist stubbornly flowing up the valley. Thankfully the weather did break over the weekend and although some clouds remained, especially in the afternoons, the mornings were clear and sunny.
Over Saturday night we had another snowfall which covered over a lot of tracks from the previous day. On Saturday we got up the mountain to find it quiet and like a December day with sunshine and cold temperatures. A strong wind has been lurking around over the last couple of days, too. Fresh powder lay in all directions and with the majority of the area open everybody was able to get some fresh lines. Initially it all looked great but after riding around Attelas to Ruinettes, Mont Fort glacier area and Gentianes and Chassoure we found a real mixture of wind slab, powder covered frozen avalanches and frozen bumps under the fresh snow. At times we could feel the potential as up on Mont Fort the powder we found felt bottomless. However, most other areas we tried ranged from super bumpy to occasional bits of frozen debris hidden under the surface. The recent wind has created a lot of slab and I set of a big slide in the couloirs below Attelas. Thankfully I was cutting the slope I intended to ride from one point of safety to the next. The first cut did not cause any movement and I was just starting to trust the snowpack when on my second cut I pulled up under a big rock for protection and a half metre piece of slab fractured under me and to my left. Throughout the rest of the mountain I heard good reports from Stairway, Highway, Catwalk, Mont Gele and Back of Mont Fort.
Overall the snow cover is really good considering the lack of snow we had over the mid season period. Things were starting to look very brown before the new snow came in almost three weeks ago now. April showers have kept dropping a couple of centimetres here and there and occasionally a big dump has come our way too. Sadly the poor visibility, flat light and clouds have lingered and the end to the season has fizzled out with many businesses shutting up suddenly and many people either not coming up to ski or leaving Verbier a week early. This is all great news if you are planning to get out for some final ski turns. The chances are that you will find lots of powder, quiet pistes and the weather forecast hints at an improvement in the weather, although it is still expected to remain very unsettled with more snow yet to come. Last weekend was the last time that the Savoleyres and 4 Vallees areas were open this winter. That still leaves the runs from Mont Fort to Ruinettes open. This includes Lac de Vaux, Attelas, La Chaux and even the runs below Ruinettes which are in great condition until you get to the Medran cat track and it becomes sticky and muddy but still passable. Recently I have been spending many afternoons biking down from Verbier to Le Chable. The snow is mainly falling above Verbier and the flat light up the mountain has not been low down too. Plus, below Verbier the forests provide protection and better visibility when the weather is rough higher up. Bikes can be rented from many of the ski shops and you can put them on the lift at Le Chable. Also this time of the year is a great time to go touring on skis in the mountain. The fresh snow guarantees should mean May is equally good. This Wednesday the Patrouille des Glaciers competition begins with teams of skiers crossing from Zermatt to Verbier, through the mountains via an old trading and military patrol route. Top teams make it in around 6 hours but the journey normally takes 3-4 days for the average person. Click here for more information.
With only one week left before the winter officially ends there is still way more snow and better conditions than the first month and a half of the winter and, with quiet pistes and fresh powder, it is a great time to get out to Verbier and get some turns in before the summer arrives.
Avalanche Risk: Level 3