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11-03-2024 | Frank Jansen | 1 Comment

Will the climbs open up earlier because of the lack of snow?

A question from our inbox: "I'm planning a trip to Andermatt in early June to cycle the big cols. Will they be open by then? I'm hopeful, considering the apparently low snowfall this season."

Snow clearing on a mountain road
© Climbfinder

Temperature and Snow Factors

The situation isn't straightforward. The opening of cols hinges on two key factors: snowfall and spring temperatures. While we can't predict the latter at present, snowfall is a different story.

Heavy snow was noted early in the season, with pictures of green meadows becoming a global spectacle. Yet, significant precipitation did occur. At lower elevations, it manifested as rain, but higher up, particularly at the peaks of cols, it was predominantly snow. In some areas of the southern French Alps, record snowfalls were observed. Even last week, some mountain tops saw substantial increases in snow depth. However, this isn't uniform across all European peaks; some have experienced relatively poor snowfall.

Low snow at the base of Col de Vars
Photo: Sparse snow at Col de Vars's base, but plentiful at the summit.

We reached out to Rogier van Rijn from Wintersport.nl and Climbfinder for further insights. An avid cyclist and skier residing in the French Alps, he shared his expertise.

"The higher cols aren't likely to open much earlier, as they still have substantial, or in some cases, excessive snow cover. Moreover, at those altitudes, snowfall can persist into early May. Additionally, the amount of snow isn't always a direct indicator of avalanche risks, another factor in col closures. Financial constraints also play a role in clearing efforts. For instance, the Col d'Agnel had little snow until last week, but recently received a meter of fresh snowfall. In short: no, it's improbable that the cols will open earlier unless you're in a region with negligible snowfall."

Alternative plan

Our suggestion for the inquirer: have a Plan B. Consider the Dolomites, where less snow typically falls compared to the Alps and many cols are accessible nearly year-round (like the Sella Ronda, Fedaia, Giau, Valparola).

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Rob Thierig 

  13 Mar, 2024     1 month ago     Reply


Ik wil half april naar de Pico Veleta. Zal dat mogelijk zijn?


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