I’ve always found Game of Thrones’ House of Stark rallying cry a bit too dramatic, but this year is different. Winter is coming, and this is the winter we have all been waiting for.
I’m fortunate to have spent many years chasing snow – both as a winter Olympic athlete and now as a recreational skier looking for perfect arcs and deep powder – I learned that it pays to have a battle plan. This season in particular, procrastinators won’t have powder days, unlike brave ones who book early.
I like that different months of the year attract different types of people to the slopes. It starts at the beginning of December with the best assets, those who want so much to put on their skis that they flock to the snow in the high-altitude resorts. I will start in Hintertux, Austria, to organize adult performance camps on their glacier, before the festivities kick off. I have always skied at Christmas. I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t look out and see the snow while the presents were placed under the tree – it’s magic.
By the time January rolls in the snow are almost guaranteed, the resorts have a healthy base and off-piste powder days are more common. A popular time for long weekends, it’s also a quiet and great time to travel with my preschoolers. With the trails less traveled and the snow packed and grippy, my two sons, Locki and Cooper, had their happiest times on the snow in the first few weeks of the year.
February can be bloodshed. In fact, we expect the Winter Olympics (starting February 4, 2022) to inspire a lot of people to book a last minute winter vacation, so look for a hidden gem. You don’t have to stray too far from the beaten path, just be inventive. For example, instead of Val d’Isère, stop at lesser-known Sainte Foy, where there is a lot of fun terrain.
I love spring skiing. March can be epic, with massive powder overnight and many sunny days. Mixed conditions add spice to a ski trip – you might find yourself changing rental skis, trail carvers, big powder boards, hiking gear on a daily basis.
I also always recommend beginners and parents with young children to start late in the season – no one wants to be cold when they are learning. This Easter year is particularly late, which is excellent news for those who commit to travel during the school holidays.
As April approaches, long breakfasts are the order of the day as the days get longer and the seasonal starts to let go. One of my favorite rituals is to sunbathe on an altitude terrace, an Aperol Spritz in hand, after a morning hitting the slopes. It won’t be long now, well done for the best ski season ever.
By Chemmy Alcott
Why ski every month
A ski vacation in December is full of festive glee and bragging about the first to hit the slopes – aim high for a safe start to the snow season.
Quiet slopes, plentiful powder days and low season prices – there’s no better way to start the New Year than on the slopes.
Avoid the mid-course carnage by getting off the beaten track during the busiest month of the season, when the slopes are groomed and the resorts are buzzing.
As the days grow longer, vacationers can revel in warmer temperatures and blue bird skies, perfect for learning the ropes or spending long lunches on a sunny patio.
The end of the season is cause for celebration, with the Easter holidays, lively festivals and frenzied après-ski making April one of the most exciting times to hit the slopes.
The best inexpensive ski vacations
Les Arcs, France
When should we go: December
Road trips save a fortune on plane tickets and the High Altitude Arcs is a great bet for an affordable week before Christmas. Erna Low (020 7584 2841; ernalow.co.uk) offers self-catering accommodation in Le Roc Belle Face from £ 405, based on four people sharing a one bedroom apartment, including crossing Eurotunnel. Departure December 18, 2021.