Watch out for early season snow in the Alps

Jonathan Williams
By Jonathan Williams
2 minute read

Stay safe on your Alpine walking holiday this summer.

It has been a wet spring and early summer throughout Europe and this has left snow on high passes throughout the Alps.

Although many regions are affected, we think that the main walking areas in Austria – Stubai, Zillertal, Hohe Tauern – are more affected than other places. But my own recent trip to the Bernina region in eastern Switzerland found large quantities of snow. At one point we found ourselves wading through about 1 metre, the first people to break trail, and we were on a 3 hour gentle walk up to 2750m.

There have been fatalities, including one Briton who seems to have slipped and fallen in bad weather in the Zillertal.

So, be prepared and take precautions. Check snow conditions locally (call the guides and tourist offices). When booking huts ask about conditions en route and on passes after the huts. Keep checking the weather forecasts. Consider taking crampons if conditions seem to need them, and perhaps an axe.

At this stage in the year at under 3000m you are more likely to meet soft snow, where the issues are the longer times needed for routes and the prospects of a slip. But keep an eye open for hard neve where a fall could be long.

Take care and have a great trip.

See also this walker's blog on the Tour of Mont Blanc:
Record Snow on the Tour du Mont Blanc – and a Job Well Done ...

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