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Featured in: News & Reviews Stuart Hamilton, La Plagne Reporter Published

Come Spring skiing in La Plagne

Some of the best skiing is yet to come

As summer slowly creeps up from the valleys and the seasons transform before our eyes, you could be forgiven for thinking that spring riding might be a fruitless affair. On the contrary, end of season brings some of the best conditions of the year with frequent wall-to-wall sunny days and great spring snow underfoot.

Together with its neighbour, Les Arcs, La Plagne is one of the few resorts in the Alps where spring doesn’t signal the end. 70% of the terrain in this resort is above the 2000m mark, guaranteeing good snow even late in the year. We still have another a full of month riding left here (closing date April 27th) and, even once the lifts close, there will still be abundant snow covering most of the mountain. Summer may well be knocking at the door but the season is far from over in a resort with such a high proportion of terrain between 2000m-3000m.

If you’re in any doubt why spring in La Plagne rules, read on to learn why this really is one of the most magical times of the season.

Good snow


While the 2018/19 season hasn’t been on the monumental scale of last year, we still have very good depths across the mountain in all but the very lowest areas. Despite the sun making a welcome reappearance, temperatures have stayed relatively low so far for the time of year – meaning considerably less snow-melt than we might normally expect. Consequently, we really shouldn’t have any worries making it through to the end of the season in the higher areas. And, if you hit the runs between 11:00 and 15:00, you’ll get that glorious softening spring snow – some of the best conditions of the entire season.

La Plagne Snow Report & Forecast

Reasons to come spring skiing in La Plagne 2019

Chilled vibe


After the hectic February holidays, the resort takes on a much more chilled atmosphere as the season ebbs slowly towards the closing date. This part of the season is sandwiched between the mid-term holidays and Easter, making it one of the quietest times in any ski resort. The first couple of weeks of April are normally quiet anyway but, as Easter is so late this year, we can expect the resort to stay quiet in the run-up to the next holiday period.

Season Dates in La Plagne

Reasons to come spring skiing in La Plagne 2019

Less people, smaller queues


This is an easy one. Obviously, a quieter resort means much smaller queues and the natural off-shoot of that is more riding on much quieter pistes. Spring really is win-win in terms of riding the resort. This season, we still have great depths around the mountain but the advent of spring means considerably fewer people competing for piste and lift space. More turns, more runs, fewer queues, great weather. Spring riding has a lot to offer.

Ski Lifts in La Plagne

Reasons to come spring skiing in La Plagne 2019

Longer days and better weather


With summer just around the corner, the tail end of the season brings longer, lazier days. That extra hour added by the clocks going forward makes all the difference to the numerous après parties and events scheduled in La Plagne.

Events in La Plagne

Reasons to come spring skiing in La Plagne 2019

Relaxed staff


There is a noticeable change of gear in any ski resort as things draw into the final month of the season. Probably the biggest change you’ll notice is how relaxed the bar, restaurant and chalet staff become. By now, these stalwart troopers have graduated from a long season full of trials and tribulations. They’re wiser, more relaxed and more confident in their jobs. These are skilled people with a long season under their belt and this sense of achievement makes for far happier individuals. Saisonnaires all take a small journey doing a full winter – but we all end up better and more content for it. As the season ends, the stresses seem to vanish.

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Reasons to come spring skiing in La Plagne 2019

End of season parties


With happier, more relaxed staff comes the inevitable end of season parties. Contrary to what many people think, doing a season isn’t all easy. Actually, it’s full of highs and lows – just like normal life, only in the microcosm of the mountains. The truth is, it’s often quite stressful trying to fit in some semblance of a social life with working and riding. Spring brings the start of the party season – a chance for saisonnaires to live more like the holidaymakers they’ve been serving all winter. This is one of the most fun times of the year for the locals to finally let their hair down.

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Reasons to come spring skiing in La Plagne 2019

Spring snow


Each season, I wrestle with this same question: which is better – powder or spring snow? Powder snow is nirvana (particularly on a snowboard) but, as the season progresses and we move into that beautiful spring snow territory, I’m reminded just how great late-season snow can be. Powder gets tracked, temperatures are cold, the weather is frequently stormy and the chair back up invariably sucks. Compare that with the unbridled joy of riding bouncy spring snow, under a warm sun, without a cloud in the sky and quieter pistes with smaller queues. It’s a tough call which is better but one thing’s for sure – spring snow is more consistently reliable and lasts way longer than a fresh dump.

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Reasons to come spring skiing in La Plagne 2019

Resort height


Unlike many other Alpine resorts, La Plagne’s elevation guarantees good conditions right through the closing months of winter. With a ski area that ranges between 1250m and 3250m – and 70% of the terrain located above the magical 2000m line – you can be sure of good snow right through to the end. While it may well be summer in the valleys, up at glacier level low temperatures assure good snow. It’s not uncommon to see a 15-20ºC difference between the lowest villages and the highest reaches of the resort.

Ski Area in La Plagne

Reasons to come spring skiing in La Plagne 2019

Late-season storms


As summer creeps in, it’s often very easy to forget that you’re still very much at altitude, in mountains famed for their extraordinary snow. In La Plagne, most of our snowfall is dictated by the Jet Stream and, with the right conditions, it’s not uncommon to see good late season dumps – the kind of falls you’d think would only happen in mid-winter. And there’s also the famed Retour d’Est pattern which can arrive at any time. This freakish storm pattern develops in the Mediterranean and, although La Plagne is mostly shielded from its phenomenal snowfall, a good Retour can often creep further north and bring healthy late-season falls.

Dump Alert La Plagne

Reasons to come spring skiing in La Plagne 2019

Summer-like skiing


At this time of year, temperatures in the valley resorts frequently top 20ºC. Summer is most definitely making its incessant creep up the mountain with each passing day and, even at 2050m (main station level), we’ll commonly see sunny days and 15ºC+ temperatures. While fresh powder might not be in abundance, few things rival riding snow in summer-like temperatures.

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Reasons to come spring skiing in La Plagne 2019

Deals


Who doesn’t like a bargain? Hunt around at this time of year and you’ll typically find late-season deals ranging from cheaper accommodation (particularly independent chalets operators) to reduced flights and even cheaper pints in the bars as owners try to clear their stock before the final closing time bell rings. Start of season and mid-season prices are fairly fixed. End-of-season is a whole different ball-game.

Special Offers in La Plagne

Marmotte Chalet , La Plagne 1800 twin bedroom

Stuart Hamilton is the Creative Director of Snow-GuruSnowboard-App and Ski-App - a range of Android skiing and snowboarding apps aimed at improving your time in the mountains. He also runs iRide Ski and Snowboard app, available for both Apple iOS and Android.

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There are many, many reasons why late-season riding makes sense. If you haven’t tried it before, give it a go and join the converted. You will not regret it.

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