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Saturday, 15 February, 2003, 11:09 GMT
European skiers delight in fresh snow
Skiers in Andorra
A fresh blanket of snow covers the Alps and the Pyrenees

Ski resorts across the Alps are experiencing the best conditions of the season just as high season arrives with half-term school holidays.

There have been heavy snowfalls in recent weeks and, with the temperature remaining low, many resorts have the best snow conditions for a decade.

It is a welcome relief for the resorts, some of which have seen their numbers fall in recent years.

The snow falls, though, have brought problems with severe travel disruption and an increase danger of avalanches.

Excellent Snow

"The runs here are near perfect." says Daniel Luggen, the resort manager of Zermatt in Switzerland.

"We have excellent conditions which are in contrast to this time last year. It could not be better as we enter the high season".

The good conditions are not just confined to Switzerland as a blanket of snow has fallen across The Alps and beyond.

In France from the low resorts like Les Gets in the Portes du Soleil, to the high resorts of Tignes and Val D'Isere conditions are superb.

Liz Russell, from the Ski Club of Great Britain told BBC News Online that the outlook for those people heading away now is excellent.

"Conditions are very good throughout the Alps and into the Pyrenees so anyone who has a ski holiday planned for this week will have a great time," she said.

Avalanche worries

But the snow falls have caused severe disruption across the mountains with roads blocked and some rail links cut off by avalanches.

Last week Zermatt was cut off as an avalanche took out the railway line.

The avalanches have also taken a human price with several deaths in recent days.

Snowboarder in Andorra
Lucky escape for snowboarders

However, in France four boarders had a lucky escape when they made a shelter and survived for three nights in a severe snow storm in the mountains above Bourg St Maurice.

They were found by the mountain rescue teams suffering from mild hypothermia but were otherwise unhurt.

In Switzerland an avalanche hit a mountain restaurant but the building took the force of the slide and no-one was seriously injured.

Perfect Pyrenees

The picture of plentiful snow is mirrored in The Pyrenees where they too have been enjoying excellent conditions.

"The snow here is wonderful at the moment," says Mark Crighton, the head of the Ski School in the Andorran resort of Arcalis.

"We haven't had it like this for six years or more. The conditions are great on the pistes and they are very good for off piste skiing and ski touring too."

The outlook for the next week is clear blue skies for many resorts and with temperatures remaining low across Europe the conditions for skiers and boarders could hardly be better.

See also:

27 Jan 03 | England
04 Feb 03 | Europe
12 Feb 03 | Business
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