Be prepared this Winter, start skiing in Autumn


Most skiers get this feeling on the first morning of their winter ski holiday, finding it takes another 4 days before they’re back in ‘the sking zone’ again. Then it’s time to go home!!

But it doesn’t have to be like that!

I’m often asked why other skiers are performing better than them so early on in the winter season. My answer is usually always the same: ‘their skiing season started in the autumn’…!

Many of our clients understand the benefits of getting the mind and body prepared to hit the ski slopes from day one. They know there’s a big difference between ‘getting down the mountain’ and skiing ‘the whole mountain’… or ‘all-mountain skiing’. One is mediocre and softly satisfying; the other is dynamic and exhilarating, opening up the senses to maximum.

To reach this heightened level of skiing awareness relies on the certain combination of skiing and mountain knowledge, physical skill and fitness.

That’s where a week or weekend’s autumn glacier skiing, or even a visit to a nearby snowdome or local dry ski slope will give you a great headstart.

Fitness training also helps enormously with winter prep. It can, of course, begin from home: jogging, cycling, swimming to name but a few, to tone up the core, cardio and strength.

For skiing itself, there are now 6 snowdomes throughout the UK – in Milton Keynes, Castelford, Braehead, Tamworth, Manchester and Hemel Hempstead – with more in the pipeline, in Great Blakenham, High Wycombe, Swansea and Western-super-Mare. Snowdomes are great places to develop your skiing. (Doing a course is ideal, with carefully structured training sessions, rather than skiing up and down on your own!)

The other option is to head out to the mountains in the autumn, to a resort with a glacier – so you are still guaranteed skiing. Normally the winter snows begin to fall from late September onwards so there’s often great skiing to be found.

There are two main ski areas in France offering glacier skiing, Tignes and les Deux Alpes, two in Austria, Hintertux and Kitzsteinhorn and two in Switzerland, Saas Fee and Zermatt.

These are all a reasonable size with good uplift facilities and each one has its own unique selling points. Saas Fee (car free) has a nice village but it’s a long journey to the glacier and is prone to closure with strong winds. Hintertux is one of the biggest glaciers but has little to no village. Les Deux Alpes is north facing so tends to keep the snow reasonably well but takes a long time to get up on the gondola and can be very busy. Zermatt (car free) has a beautiful village but very flat slopes and a long access. All these glaciers have skiing available from early October through to the start of the winter.

Tignes has the quickest access to glacier skiing probably in the whole world. The fast efficient funicular whisks you onto the glacier in no time at all. The resort itself has invested heavily the past few years to turn Tignes into the ‘Sporting’ capital of Europe, with a new leisure centre, state of the art swimming pool, fitness and spa, squash courts, sports pitches and a running track around the lake. Presently Tignes is investing in a new indoor athletics centre.

You can check out a recent trip up to the glacier here.

Firstly when the snow arrives, hopefully by September or October, these areas are the best places to go skiing. The snow settles on the glacier immediately and can result in superb skiing conditions. If the early snow doesn’t arrive you can be assured of skiing but the snow may be limited and you may be down to the ice but on the positive side you’ll still be skiing.

If you opt for glacier skiing with telecabine access, you have to beware of strong winds that can cause lift closure. It’s not much fun if you’re in a ski resort and can’t ski so a village with other activities may be preferred.

The skiing areas are limited, some more then others so you need to have a purpose. Don’t go glacier skiing as a replacement for your winter holiday.  In the autumn the slopes are filled with skiers training and developing their performance. Race teams are in abundance, in pre-winter training in preparation for the race circuit. On many glaciers you’ll be rubbing shoulders with the Swiss, French, Austrian and Italian teams as well as visiting teams from overseas like the USA, Japan and Korea. It’s also the time for instructors to do pre-season training in preparation for their exams before they start work themselves. Then there’s all those ‘lucky skiers’ making sure they’re prepared for the winter holiday.

My advice is go glacier skiing if you have a purpose. The important thing is you’re preparing for your winter skiing.  You can develop all the skills needed to ski the whole mountain on a glacier. Trust me, I learnt to ski on an 80 metre dry ski slope and could ski everywhere on the mountain on my first day on snow! You can get bumps, varied snow, slopes of different steepness, even powder when the snow comes. It’s also ideal for developing higher speed skills using gates. Keep in mind the open, closed environment. You can read about this on the Snoworks blog. Glaciers tend to be more closed environment so your training needs to have the ‘open environment’ in mind. ie. you’re training for the winter snow and conditions. Don’t get caught into the trap of perfecting a ‘technique’ only to find that when the winter arrives your ‘technique’ doesn’t match the environment.

We’ve pioneered glacier skiing for the general public for over 20 years, taking skiers of all levels to the glacier in Tignes from mid October to December. This season our courses begin on October 22 and we ski every day, every week until the winter arrives and it’s business as normal. Our courses have developed year by year and all have one thing in common. Preparation! We’ve also linked in with highly-respected tour operator Mark Warner to open the Hotel Aiguille Percée in Tignes, especially for Snoworks clients.

Easyjet, British Airways and Swiss Air provide flights from Heathrow, Gatwick and Edinburgh direct to Geneva throughout the autumn. You can organise a transfer with Snoworks to get to Tignes.


For more information, contact our booking office on 0845 543 0503 or email [email protected]