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Kitzbühel Commits to 200 Day Ski Season

One of the lowest altitude major ski areas in the Alps, Kitzbühel, has now committed to a 200+ day ski season, from October to May, in its advertising. Kitzbühel in the Austrian Tirol was once the subject of media attention when a major UN report on climate change more than a decade ago said that low altitude ski areas in the Alps would be the first to suffer the effects of average temperature warming. The resort subsequently published season by season snowfall data going back many decades which appeared to confirm climate change predictions with less snowfall in the autumn and spring but more intense snowfall in the main season. Despite the predictions and the apparent reality with temperatures often too…

THE REAL WILD WEST – JUST ASK HOLLYWOOD

Alf Alderson discovers the real wild west in Telluride, Colorado Driving down Telluride’s wide main strip, otherwise known as Colorado Avenue, is quite an experience; authentic western-style hotels, bars and restaurants line the street, the snow draped ridges and peaks of the San Juan Mountains line the horizon and the steep ski runs of the town’s high altitude ski resort snake down to the edge of town – throw in a Hollywood star lounging about on the corner of Colorado and Aspen and it all becomes slightly surreal. “Look, look, it’s Samuel L. Jackson!” I cry to my buddy Tom. “Nah, it can’t be…” “You didn’t see, you’re driving…let’s turn back and check”. After all, it’s…

ELECTRIC FAT BIKING IN LES DEUX ALPES

I’m standing at the bottom of the Vallée Blanche chairlift at 1600-metres in Les Deux Alpes; fresh snow lies all around but despite my ski wear I’m not going skiing. Today I’m mountain biking on the snow instead; and I’m doing it the easy way, with an electric fat bike. Huge balloon tyres ensure a good grip on the snow and, best of all, the Bafang 8Fun motor ensures the hills are conquered with ease. I’m riding with Sylvain Marulaz, an ‘Accompagnateur en Montagne’ who, after guiding mountain bikers around the superb range of trails at Les Deux Alpes in summers decided to combine the upsurge in popularity in fat bikes and electric bikes to offer a winter…

SKIING WITH SHARKS…

Heliskiing in Iceland is a unique experience  By Alf Alderson When a man tells you his family have lived in the same valley since God was a lad you can understand how it is that he knows the area so well – indeed, ski guide Jökull Bergmann’s ancestors settled in northern Iceland before God even existed as far as they were concerned. His Viking forbears were still worshipping Thor when they rolled ashore on the Troll Peninsula in their longboats in the 9th century; more than a thousand years later their great, great, great (etc.) grandson, universally known as ‘JB’, travels around the area by helicopter as the head guide with Arctic Heliskiing, Iceland’s only heliski operation. And…

SAIL AND SKI

Ski touring by boat along Iceland’s north coast By Alf Alderson It’s possible that the hardest thing about sailing and skiing along the north coast of Iceland isn’t the logistics, the navigating of rocky shorelines, the beach landings in choppy seas and the long climbs to the summits of various sub-Arctic peaks, but pronouncing the place names. For instance, on the second day of my adventure here our schooner ‘Hildur’ anchored in Rauðavík Bay before we took the tender ashore to climb a 1129-metre mountain that goes by the entirely unpronounceable name of Skálavíkurhnjúhur. Getting to the top of Skálavíkurhnjúhur is no less demanding than trying to pronounce it, for although there’s no real climbing involved, it’s a…

WHY YOU, TOO, SHOULD GO HELISKIING…

If the thought of paying for a heliski trip makes your palms sweat, that’s fair enough – but it doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg, and you don’t need to be a pro-level rider either. Here’s why you should consider give it a go. All images courtesy of Last Frontier Heliskiing www.lastfrontierheli.com   By Alf Alderson I’m standing on the summit of 3040-metre Pizzo Zembranka on the border of Italy’s Stelvio National Park with four other skiers and a guide. I got here by helicopter in order to deal with the little matter of a 2090-metre descent down wide open, humanity free powder fields… And to do so I had to shell out just 180…

BC RIDER

Alf Alderson hits the road in a huge ‘RV’ to visit five of BC’s best If there’s one way of guaranteeing first tracks on a powder day it’s to sleep next to the ski lift, which is why I found myself nodding off one night last February within spitting distance of the Silverlode Chair at Red Mountain, BC. Snow had been falling since dusk some six hours ago, but I was safe and warm in a queen-sized bed in a monster-sized ‘recreational vehicle’, or ‘RV’; this was how, along with my mate and co-driver James, we’d managed to negotiate ourselves into pole position for the feeding frenzy that would…

POWDER HOUNDS

If you’re caught in a slide, these are the guys to call… By Alf Alderson I’m buried beneath a metre of snow, a few chinks of sunlight slicing through gaps to the outside world; but I’m not hurt - in fact, I’m not even worried – because I know an avalanche rescue dog is on the way to find me, and these are the go-to guys in this situation. ‘This situation’ is actually an exercise with the Breckenridge Ski Patrol, so apart from getting a little chilly there really is nothing to get anxious about, for within a minute an enthusiastic canine member of the ski patrol team known as ‘Ayup’ can be…

THE GREATEST?

Trying to ski the ‘Greatest Snow on Earth’ isn’t as easy as you might think. By Alf Alderson There’s an urban myth that the Inuit have around a hundred words for snow (although a recent article in the Washington Post claims the figure is actually 50), but North American marketing men seem intent on pushing the number of English words for the white stuff even higher. Steamboat Springs has its ‘champagne powder’ (trade-marked too, so don’t try using it without permission; which I just have); BC skiers float through ‘white smoke’; and, of course, if you’re in Utah you’ll be skiing the ‘Greatest Snow on Earth’. Or will you? Well, last February, me and my mate James decided…

Val d’Isère Re-Opens Winter (non-glacier) Slopes for Summer Skiing

This week, for the first time in the resort’s 82-year history, Val d’Isère reopened some of its winter pistes and lifts, situated just above the village, after they closed on 1 May 2018, at the end of a record-breaking season for snow cover. About 200 skiers and snowboarders took advantage of the exceptional conditions to ride the Funival funicular to the top of Bellevarde on re-opening day, where the first sections of slopes OK, Diebold, 3J and Verte offered skiing on snow lying more than a metre thick. After each run, enthusiasts could jump on the Marmottes chair for another go, exactly the same as in winter. David McCallum, a British property developer who lives in Val d’Isère said, “It…