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Winter’s coming   Season starts for some ski areas

Andermatt ski season begins

Andermatt: the ski season began on November 2

(© KEYSTONE / ALEXANDRA WEY)

The first winter sports fans are expected in some of Switzerland’s ski areas this weekend, with the higher mountains already having up to two metres of snow. Some places are even opening early.

Skiing and snowboarding are possible – mostly at the weekends – in the eastern Alps, central Switzerland, in Valais and in the Bernese Oberland, according to a survey by the Swiss news agency Keystone-SDA.

The snowfall during the last weekend in October has prompted several mountain railway companies to start at least some of their equipment early, the agency reported.

+ Read more about the early snowfall here

Two metres of snow has fallen at 2,000 metres above sea level in places south of the Alps, it has reached 1.5 metres between Goms in Valais and the Upper Engadine. Elsewhere in the Alps snowfall has been under 50 centimetres, MeteoSchweizexternal link said.

Ups and downs

In canton Graubünden, the resort of Laax has had to delay - at the very last minute -the start of its season from this Saturday due to wind gusts of up to 150 km/hour over the pistes. The storm blew away the snow so that the prepared pistes could not be continuously used, it saidexternal link. Some other areas of Graubündenexternal link are opening, like the Diavolezza ski area in Engadine 

Verbierexternal link in Valais kicked off its season on Friday. It has 60 centimetres of snow in the slopes by the Lac des Vaux, the resort said. In Saas-Feeexternal link and Zermatt,external link the number of autumn ski areas have been increased. Areas in the Bernese Oberland - the Glacier 3000external link  - for example and in central Switzerland, like the Skiarena Andermatt-Sedrunexternal link, are also opening up, at least in part.

Prices, predictions

Prices of day and six-day passes will rise by 1.3% on average for this winter season, the Swiss Cable Car Associationexternal link told Keystone-SDA.

Overall, cable car companies have invested between CHF200 million and CHF300 million ($200 million to $300 milion), in the upcoming season, said chief spokesman Andreas Keller. The mood among the companies is very positive he added.

This comes after the KOF Swiss Economic Institute, which is part of theSwiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zurich, said that expectations for the coming winter season were “positive”,

“Tourism demand will increase thanks to the positive economic situation at home and abroad,” a statementexternal link released on Wednesday said. It said on the assumption of average weather conditions, an increase in overnight stays of 2.3% is expected.

Mountain cable cars showed healthy figures last winter season due to the upswing in Swiss tourism and the good weather conditions, KOF remarked. The number of first entries to cable cars increased by over 10% for the first time in four years and KOF forecasts a slight increase of 0.3% for the coming winter. Nevertheless, the longer-term trend for first entries to cable cars remains slightly negative, it warned.

Keystone-SDA/KOF/ilj

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