Winter 2011/12: a season of surprises and mixed fortunes

Fresh snow in Argentière on Wednesday

Winter 2011/12 really has been a season of surprises and mixed fortunes. In Europe, it started with a worrying lack of snow, but within a matter of days had gone from one extreme to another, leading to lock down in certain resorts, and some of the best snow records in recent years. Then early March saw the premature onset of spring, which brought temperatures more commonly associated with summer. Fortunately the fantastic base that had accumulated earlier in the season managed to withstand the prolonged period of high temperatures and minimal snow, but by early April it was beginning to look as though the end might be nigh.

However, in keeping with the twists and turns of the season, this week has seen winter return to the Alps, replenishing the pistes in certain resorts with more than 20cm of snow, and ensuring that the season definitely isn’t over yet!

A very bare looking Aspen Highlands earlier this week

Unfortunately it isn’t quite the same story over in parts of the US, where they’ve had a pretty dismal season. In Colorado, spring has well and truly set in, and without a substantial base to withstand the high temperatures, the snow has started to retreat rapidly. Pip Holmes from has been out in Colorado for the past week and sent these pictures, which show the extent of the thaw. Unsurprisingly Aspen have announced that they’ve decided to close Aspen Highlands this Sunday, well before its scheduled closing date.

It’s a completely different story up in Canada though, where it’s been dumping all season. In Whistler they’ve had an incredible 13.4m of snow so far, and the end still seems a long way off. It’s also a similar story in Banff and Lake Louise where they’re pretty close to beating their annual snowfall record.

Breckenridge on Thursday

It’s even been snowing again here in Scotland, just days after we were basking in some of the hottest March temperatures on record. Sadly it’s been too little too late to make much impact on the ski areas, in what has been a disappointing season compared to the past couple of years. Cairngorm is hanging in there (they had 3cm on Thursday night), but there’s very limited terrain open.

So, conditions couldn’t be more different across the board as winter draws to a close (or doesn’t, as the case may be!), but if the earlier part of the season is anything to go by, anything could still happen. There’s even a storm forecast to hit Colorado today, which could bring a massive dump of snow! As good ol’ Lenny once sang, “It ain’t over (baby) ‘til it’s over…”.

Whatever conditions winter 11/12 has brought, one thing’s for sure: it’s definitely been a season to remember!

What have been your highlights (or lowlights) of the season? Leave a comment below… I’d love to hear from you!


3 responses to “Winter 2011/12: a season of surprises and mixed fortunes

  1. Pingback: Another twist in the tail… | riding switch

  2. Wow you really got around! Ha-ha jealous!

  3. Sadly I didn’t make it across the pond this year. Just Europe and Scotland. Can’t complain though – had an awesome season! How about you?

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