Which ski resorts are open in October and November and where is the best snow?
Early-season skiing is limited to glacier areas in most situations, but you are likely to have the slopes all to yourself and a few other early-birds on the upside. You will be able to fly there and back across empty airports, and be the first to try out the equipment for the new season.
If you’re a family, fed up with restricted supply, crowded slopes, and sky-high prices when trying to book your ski trip in the half-term of February, how much more enjoyable, peaceful and better value instead of skiing in the half-term of October.
It’s surprising how few individuals take advantage of early-season skiing opportunities in October and November. You will appreciate uncrowded slopes; you will be rubbing shoulders with the national ski teams as they train for winter, and, best of all, you will pay less for lodging and lift tickets, all at three-star rates for a five-star experience.
In October and November, where do you ski?
With up to eight areas open by mid-October, Austria usually has more places for skiing or boarding operations in the fall than any other single country. Every winter, the exact date depends on snow conditions, but in any case, many tie in the region’s traditional autumnal beer festivals with the first skiing of the season to create a party atmosphere.
Austrian autumn glacier skiing or boarding options include the Kitzsteinhorn glacier at Kaprun and Hintertux, Kaunertal, and Pitztal, the Mölltal glacier ski area, the Solden twin glaciers, the Stubai glacier near Innsbruck, and the Dachstein, not far from Schladming.
Depending on conditions, Solden and the Stubai may also have already opened in early September. Obergurgl is typically one of the first ski areas that, due to its high base and very high slopes above, does not rely on a glacier to open every winter. It can usually offer top-to-bottom skiing from mid-November.
In addition to Saas-Fee and Zermatt, several more glacier ski areas in Switzerland are open every year from early October. Glacier 3000 between Les Diablerets and Gstaad, the Titlis Glacier above Engelberg, the Vorab Glacier at Laax, the third, and the Diavolezza Glacier in the Engadin Valley between Pontresina and St Moritz are the four other autumn options, which may only be accessible on weekends before the primary winter season begins.
Tignes is the only French ski resort opening for almost all autumn, usually reopening a few weeks after its summer skiing service on the Grande Motte glacier closed during the last weekend of September.
In addition to Tignes, Les 2 Alpes usually opens its glacier ski area, which it says is the largest in Europe, for a 10-day duration (two weekends and a week in between) straddling the end of October and beginning of November) when they stage an autumn snow sports festival with lots of fun activities and new season gear testing. It then closes again before the start of the primary season in early December.
In Italy, Cervinia opens typically at the end of October, apart from Val Senales, offering access from the Italian side to the paradise of the Klein Matterhorn glacier above Zermatt. A third choice is the Passo Stelvio Summer Ski Centre, which is usually open until October. At 2760 m, the base of this ski area is the highest bottom lift in Europe, and at 3450 m, there is almost 700 m vertical between it and the top of the lifts.