As we come to the end of summer the million dollar question on everyones minds is, is it going to be a snowy winter this winter? But how can we tell? How do we know?

You can listen to the weather forecasters but they don’t have very accurate ideas till nearer the time. They are also a little pre-occupied by the “Canicule” or heat wave that has been hitting Europe and the drought it is causing. Not to mention the storms that are now rolling in! Note that everything is in extremes so this could be a indicator of an extreme winter!

We are seeing the effects of the heatwave on our glaciers, with extreme melting and summer skiing being more and more tricky. In fact most European glaciers are now closed for skiing and have been for a while. But the good news is the mountain tops became white again for the first time over night …. the tables have turned and summer is coming to an end. Time to plan for winter! (a snowy winter in my mind!)

Snowy mountain tops

Snowy Mountain Tops above Les Deux Alpes

I love to listen to the old people of the mountain villages. They have their indicators on what to expect and sometimes are willing to share their secrets with us! They have lived in times before Meteo France and Apple weather app so rely on real life indicators of whats to come.

La Grande Gentiane Jaune

After a long discussion with a great friend of mine, a true “Ancien de la montagne” and Guide de Moyen Mountain with years of experience here in the oisans valley. We discussed the indicators that he looks for. He taught me all about the Yellow Gentian (Gentiana lutea)¬†or in French “La Grande Gentiane Jaune”.


La Grande Gentiane Jaune et Laurent

La Grande Gentiane Jaune et Laurent

Laurent swears he has never seen them so tall. We took the above picture to prove that the plant isn’t far off the same height as him!

Well in the words of our very own ancien de la montagne, the height of this plant indicates the amount of snow there will be next season. He goes on to explain that it isn’t actually directly related to the amount of snow but the number of times it is going to snow during the winter. Of course the more it snows the more often we have fresh snow to play in and the more the snow pack or depth of snow grows.

Not just to take Laurents word on this I did some research and spoke to a few other “old mountain people” and they are all in agreement! Lots also explained to me that this plant is even more useful than this – its roots are used to make the alcohol! you can find a recipe here.

With this new exciting information that the Grande Gentiant Jaune are the tallest we have seen in a long time and we are expecting a great winter ahead I set about finding out if there were any other indicators that would prove or disprove this.

Other indicators of a good winter to come

Bingo, A good winter in the southern hemisphere usually indicates a good winter here! The southern hemisphere are having the best winter in 10 years so guess what? Looks like we might get the same!

So to conclude in my opinion this winter is going to be epic. The snow has started falling on the mountain tops here in the Ecrins National park and in our local ski resorts or Les Deux Alpes and Alpe d’Huez.

We have 1 more week of summer here in resort and will be biking as much as we can in the bike park whilst its open before moving to enduro and electric for the autumn. Of course whilst watching the snow line descend!

Next opportunity to ski with us at TipTop Ski Coaching

If you can’t get enough of skiing and feel you have missed out over the last few years or even just this summer. Our next rendezvous is Saturday 15th October on Les Deux Alpes Glacier. Alex will be available for private lessons for which you can find further information here. If you would like to book a lesson you can do this directly with Alex or through our contact page. The Glacier will be open till Sunday 6th November inclusive (subject of course to conditions).

Les Deux Alpes Glacier

Les Deux Alpes Glacier

Winter season starts in Les Deux Alpes for TipTop Ski Coaching on Saturday 10th December and we are in resort and teaching all season!

Group ski photo

The Ski Club of Great Britain having a fab time skiing with TipTop Ski Coaching. Les Deux Alpes

Looking forward to skiing with you and enjoying all this promised snow with you!