Recent heavy snowfall in Scotland has seen a flurry of skiers rushing to the slopes while some of Europe’s famous mountain ranges turn to slush and mud after unseasonably warm weather.
Families were seen enjoying a day on the snow-dusted slopes at the Lecht Ski Centre at Strathdon in the Cairngorms, the Scottish Highlands, after a cold snap over the festive period.
This is in stark contrast to Europe’s alpine resorts, which saw record-breaking temperatures over the New Year and are threatening to cancel this year’s ski season.
In Switzerland, temperatures hit a record-breaking 20C on New Year’s Day, the highest ever north of the Alps in January.
Recent heavy snowfall in Scotland has seen a flurry of skiers rushing to the slopes
A skier enjoying the slopes during pristine conditions in the Scottish Highlands
People were out on the slopes as the ski season gets under way in Scotland
A snowboarder on the fresh snow in the Scottish Highlands
Nigel Hake, operations manager at the Lecht Ski Centre, said the slopes had been ‘very popular’ with locals and holidaymakers flocking to the resort.
Weather conditions were good for skiing in Scotland yesterday
He said the recent cold snap had resulted in a ‘good layer of natural snow on the east side of the Cairngorms’ which was ‘bringing people out’.
Most of the ski centre’s runs have complete cover of soft snow on Wednesday, with some icy patches.
Mr Hake added that the fact that there were no Covid-19 restrictions for the first time in three years was also a factor in this year’s popularity.
‘People are trying to get out and enjoy normality,’ he said.
‘During the years of Covid lockdowns we had some of the best snow for many years but people weren’t allowed to use it and were a bit frustrated.
‘People are happy to be out and about again.’
The Lecht Ski Centre was full of families enjoying a day on the slopes on December 30
In contrast, a ski slope in Schruns, Austria appeared remarkably bare on December 28 as Europe grapples with unseasonably warm weather
Heavy snowfall in Scotland has seen a flurry of skiers rushing to the slopes while Europe’s famous mountain ranges turn to slush and mud after unseasonably warm weather.
Images show the snowfall in Scotland yesterday which is ideal for skiing
Skiers in Glencoe have taken to the piste in recent days to make the most of the good conditions
Lee Hardy at Braemar Mountain Sports, in the Glenshee ski area, said that conditions were good for this time of year.
He said: ‘We had a lot of snow two weeks ago and some of that has melted but currently there is seven runs open at Glenshee, the weather is being kind and the snow is soft.
‘We had some rain yesterday but temperatures are due to drop again with more snow forecast for the weekend, so actually this will consolidate the snow and hopefully make the base more solid.
‘There’s some good conditions for ski touring, especially over on the back bowls and for families, the weather has been good so the ski centre has been busy over the holiday period.’
A woman and her child enjoy a day out at the Lecht Ski Centre at Strathdon in the Cairgorms over the festive period
The slopes at the Lecht Ski Centre in the Scottish Highlands were packed with people
A woman and her young child enjoy a spot of sledging on the snow-dusted slops in the Cairngorms
Chris O’Brien, managing director at Nevis Range, said their sledging area had welcomed 2,500 visitors over Christmas and New Year.
As the ski season gets underway in Scotland, many of the mountain resort’s slopes opened up on Monday.
Despite rain overnight which washed some of the snow away, more forecast for later in the week made for a ‘bumper’ weekend ahead.
Mr O’Brien said some of the world’s leading sports equipment brands, such as Commencal and Oakley, had invested in the area signalling ‘confidence in Scottish skiing and mountain biking at Nevis range.’
The Lecht Ski Centre was full of skiiers enjoying a day on the slopes on December 30
The Met Office recorded 8cm snowfall at their station in Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, on Sunday with depth expected to be higher in the mountains.
However, climbers are being advised to take care outside of the resorts after eight avalanches were recorded in the last 48 hours.
A 48-year-old mountaineer died on the north face of Ben Nevis after an avalanche on New Year’s Day, while another man, 40, suffered serious injuries and was taken to hospital.
Meanwhile, alpine ski resorts have been plunged into crisis after half the slopes in France closed due to a winter heatwave in Europe.
The unprecedented January ‘heat dome’ has produced temperatures ranging from 10 to 20 Celsius (50 to 68 Fahrenheit) from France to Western Russia – with several temperature records broken over the New Year weekend.
At least seven countries – including Denmark, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic – have seen their warmest January weather on record, while the Swiss resort of Adelboden recorded temperatures above freezing even at 6,500ft.
Le Semnoz in France pictured last week (left) and during a more snowy time in 2018 (right)
Frustrated skiers have posted videos slaloming down narrow slivers of ice flanked by grass and sharing their annoyance over the lack of snow on the slopes, meanwhile there has been a rush for refunds from some holidaymakers.
Patches of grass, rock and dirt were visible in some of Europe’s skiing hotspots – like Innsbruck in Austria, Villars-sur-Ollon and and Germany’s Lenggries.
Resorts at lower-altitudes in France and Switzerland have been worst affected by the warmer weather and heavy rain, which has destroyed snowy slopes.
Austria and Italy have slightly more favourable conditions but more snow is needed for skiing.
The heat dome – which is created when an area of high pressure stays over the same area and traps warm air underneath – has also sparked further warnings about climate change.
Villars-Sur-Ollon in Switzerland closed last week (left) due to the lack of snow. Pictured right: The season in snowier times
Many resort bosses are now in crisis talks about whether they can remain open, with The Times reporting that others are saying the ‘heartbreaking’ situation has forced them to close their slopes to skiers.
There are fears for the safety of guests, with doctors saying they are receiving the same number of skiing fall victims now as they would in Easter due to the conditions.
More than half of the resorts in France have closed including at least ten in the French Pyrenees and scores in the Isère region of the French Alps.
Footage taken at the Morzine ski resort in the French Alps shows skiers on the slopes making do with grass and very little, slushy snow.
Bastien Moyon, 18, a skier who was in Morzine last weekend, said: ‘This year is the first time I’ve seen it like this. It’s pretty impressive actually. I’ve never seen rain like this.’
The difficult conditions come just days before the skiing World Cup, set to start next Saturday in Adelboden, Switzerland, drawing thousands of fans.
Many resorts with slopes under 2,200 meters across the French Alps have experienced a lack of snow.
Bastien, a host and content creator at Atlas Ski Co, added: ‘It’s pretty hard to ski. The conditions are pretty dangerous for everyone.
‘People are pretty disappointed with the situation. They would have liked a season with normal holidays.’
The lack of consistent snow cover and waterlogged slopes causes dangerous conditions for skiers.
Some resorts are scrambling to offer alternative activities in a desperate bid to claw back visitors.
Biking trails, zip wire descents and go-karting are all offerings being put forward by resorts due to the lack of snow.
Bastien, who gave up his skis in favour of a mountain bike, said: ‘The operators of the resort are] very disappointed, people should be directed to other mountain sports.’
The Swiss resort of Splugen-Tambo was the latest to shut in the country after the warmest New Years Day on record in some resorts.
The resort of Adelboden recorded a temperature of 15C (59F).