UPDATED 17 NOVEMBER 2014
Skier? Snowboarder? Planning your first trip to the slopes of the season? Can't wait 'til January? We've found 10 places most likely to satisfy powder addicts desperately seeking snow.
With winter on its way, snow lovers are already sharpening their edges, polishing their goggles and scanning the snow reports for the first signs of the white stuff.
If you’re one of those people who just can’t wait to hit the slopes, we reveal some of the best places to get an early season ski trip in.
But how can you be sure that you’ll find snow, rather than grass on the slopes?
Well, the general rules for early season skiing are similar to late season skiing; head high or head north if you want the best chance of hitting the slopes before the New Year. Resorts that have invested heavily in snow making systems are also most likely to be able to guarantee the goods.
As Europe’s highest ski resort, most of the skiing here is over 2000m, which means the snow starts falling early. Part of the huge Three Valleys ski area, Val Thorens is an excellent bet for good snow conditions early in the season. Fly to: Chambery, Switzerland.
The Land of the Rising Sun’s most famous ski resort, Niseko (which actually consists of several ski areas) normally opens by late November with the help of the Siberian weather fronts that have made Niseko so famous for powder snow. Already massively popular with Australian skiers, Niseko’s notoriety is fast spreading worldwide. Fly to: Sapporo
3. Åre, Sweden
Sweden’s number one resort, which also claims to be Northern Europe’s largest and most advanced, Åre boasts a season that starts in November and lasts until May. With 100 pistes to enjoy plus night skiing too, Åre is a popular choice for early season skiing and pistes tend to be open by mid-December. Fly to: Stockholm
Winter sports enthusiasts can start skiing early here on the glacier which offers an impressive 20km of runs and a vertical drop of over 750m. Skiing on the rest of the mountain starts in mid-December, making Tignes a fairly solid choice for an early season schuss. Fly to: Geneva
This famous Swiss ski resort has lifts that take you to a dizzy 3899m, and offers skiing that starts in late November. Zermatt is one of the few, truly year-round ski destinations in the world and a sure bet for pre-Christmas skiing. Fly to: Zurich
With a ski area that sits between 1800m and 3500m and has access to a glacier, Sass Fee offers early-season skiers plenty of snow. Freestyle snowboarders and skiiers should be particulary at home here as Saas Fee boasts a year-round snow parks on offer. Fly to: Geneva
One of the higher resorts in Europe with pistes to 3000m and a good snow record, Livigno’s skiing normally starts in late November on a good year. The town’s tax-free tax status is also a considerable draw, meaning that food and drink are excellent value here. Fly to: Innsbruck
The excellent slope grooming and snow-making facilities at Whistler Blackcomb help to ensure a lengthy season that starts in late November/early December. This Canadian super resort has repeatedly been voted the best ski resort in the world. Fly to: Vancouver
With a season that typically starts in November, and lasts until June, skiers and snowboarders coming to Mammoth can enjoy the “tallest ski resort in California” which is also one of the USA’s premier mountain resorts. Fly to: LA
10. Solden, Austria
Like Zermatt, Solden has year-round skiing on its two glaciers, so when it comes to early-season trips, it’s a pretty sure bet – so sure in fact that Solden say “snow is absolutely guaranteed from November to May”. With a state of the art mountain railway, and a massive ski area, Solden is a great choice for the early bird skier. Fly to: Innsbruck