The 2024 season so far, from  December 2023 to February 4th 2024 .

(It’s looking like it might be a tale of two halves (again) here in the Alps)

Can you believe its not only 2024 but also his will be our 17th year operating here in Chatel and our 11th year running as a pure splitboard guiding operation.  I’m not sure where that last decade went – well I do but still, it’s gone fast…

We know that weather systems & patterns have changed over those 17  years, in no small part due to climate breakdown.  As a result, you really can’t take anything for granted conditions-wise at resort level anymore in December and early January (or seemingly February, too – more of that to follow).

Every cold front is eventually followed by a warm one and any early season snow that we get is always subject to risk.  But now that risk is very much heightened. This time last year the Alps were mostly green below 2000m after they experienced a disastrous, prolonged bout of rain during late December.  

I went on about this in detail in our round up of the 2023 season – you can read about that here

Many resorts didn’t recover enough from the washout to operate that season.  The reality is that the historical December thaw can now be accompanied by insane amounts of rain due to increased heating of the oceans and here we are again in early 2024 ,we are seeing closures of lower resorts in Switzerland and France due to too much rain and a lack of snow


The snow came in early November 2023 so we made the most of it in the knowledge that it wouldn’t hang around.  I was out on November 11th in Chatel for an ascent of the Chesery from the car park in Pre La Joux and rode powder all the way down back to the car.    We were right about it not hanging around though and it disappeared at the lower elevations – but we hadn’t anticipated another dump and by December the 6th we were splitting in mid-winter conditions.

Here’s a picture of the Mont de Grange in La Chapelle d’Abondance taken in early November 2023 and a snap of Polo making the most of  it on Chamonix steeps last December 6th – riding with his mates and Jones team riders Pica Herry and Laurent Bibollet.
















By now we were getting into the swing of things.  We’d started to make some splitboard tours of our own in the local area, Chatel had opened its lift system for a powder weekend on the 9th and things were looking generally peachy.  However, on December 11th / 12th the anticipated warm front came through with rain to altitude.  A lot of France was on flood alert – here in the Haute Savoie we had to contend with an awful lot of rain mixed with snowmelt that threatened not only riverbanks but other infrastructure too.  You can see from this video of our back garden that the general water levels were getting a little worrying.

It was looking like history repeating itself.  But it didn’t. *Inserts praising hands emoji*

The snowpack below 2000m had held up, it was nowhere near as bad as the rain in December 2023 and crucially it was followed, almost immediately, by snow.  By now the French Alps were recording record amounts of snow above 2500m and the pistes and lower elevation off-piste was starting to recover.

By Saturday 16th December we were riding lift accessed powder with some old friends, Polo was helping Pica and Laurent guide the Jones Pro team on their safety days and we finished the year by taking out a father and son for a splitboard  introduction experience.  Here’s a little look at what we got up to during that early period.


It’s JANUARY 1st 2024

January 1st 2024
Abondance, Haute Savoie


The Christmas and New Year holiday period was again intensely busy on the mountain.  The weather wasn’t great either – no rain but very foggy with light snow but it then snowed a decent amount around the 6th January.  A long-time client of ours was on a trip in Morzine the following weekend so we hooked up and went for a local tour of the area.  It’s no surprise, but it is still lovely, that after so long running splitboard trips that your clients eventually become your mates 🙂


Here’s James T with that lovely Jones Stratos splitboard he’s not long bought himself : )


By the 10th Jan we could see that a warm front was threatening the Alps with the wrong type of precipitation so we made the most of the good days and spent them mainly on the Mont du Grange in the Abondance Valley picking off the remaining fresh lines.  I went out with my old mate Rory from Blue Chilli Snowsports on 12th January.  We found some great snow to ride and had a generally lovely time. 

We even got to explain to a couple of older, none local French guys who were on a ski-tour where they were on our way down.  I joke but it really is incredible when you meet people in that sort of place who don’t know where they are.  I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

Rory guides on a splitboard for us but, damn, he’s faster on those 186 skis!  Here he is below about to rip a lesser skied line on the Mont de Grange.


By Wednesday 17th the rain arrived again.  The snow line has risen to over 2000m and it rained HARD last night. 

It is Thursday 18th January and its persistent rain in the mountains while further in the south they are experiencing snowstorms in the cities. 

We had a crew of 5 splitboarders arriving on the 19th for a 3-day splitboard Chablais session and it was looking super sketchy out there.

There was a forecast for colder temps during the night of the 18th which would bring the snow line down.  We were praying that happened, with enough snow to successfully deliver our first local Splitboard Chablais 3-day session of 2024.   A lot of WhatsApp time was spent with the crew making contingency plans, from plan A through to plan C .  

We guarantee to find you the best conditions on a 3-day Splitboard Chablais session but we tend to not overnight anywhere higher up in January.  However, it was starting to look like this may need to happen. 

We had only a few ideas though as 95% of higher mountain refuges don’t operate in the early winter months. Chamonix, Les Contamines and possibly towards the Simplon Pass were the only options available to us and they were looking busy places to be at the weekend.

There was still hope that the anticipated cold front would arrive in time for the session.  When we heard that a weather station just north of Basle had recorded a drop from twelve degrees to zero degrees in twenty-five minutes (25 minutes?? – that’s crazy) later that afternoon we started to believe.

A firm plan to meet the splitboard crew in the Abondance area at 8am the following morning was made.  We’d spend the day scoping the area and would make a call for the next few days based on what we found.  During the end of the night on the Thursday 18th at around 9pm the rain turned to snow as the cold front finally reached us here in France.  This delivered 40cm + of new snow to  above 1500m altitude.  We woke to a sunny, fresh, and thankfully white morning.

Polo and I set off with Tim, Colette and Katherine who had come over from Morzine.  Alex and Glynn were due to arrive the following day – depending on what we had found…

As soon as we started skinning, we were sure there was going to be enough to do locally in the Abondance area for the 3-days.  We had arguably the best snow in the area and could mitigate the avalanche threat better than at higher altitudes (it had snowed on a sodden pack accompanied by high winds and the avalanche level was on a 4 that day).

 Glynn and Alex joined us and it was a joy to guide an experienced crew around our backyard in great conditions.  The guys loved it, we walked over 3200 vertical metres over the session and rode some surprisingly deep snow on some cool terrain.

Here’s what went down 19-21 January 2024:


Sublime To The Ridiculous..

Straight after that session  the temps rocketed again.  It was 13 degrees forecast in the valley later that week.  I’ve said it before but  splitboarding at altitude is increasingly looking like the future. as climate breakdown is occurring in real time now. 

It’s now the 30th of January.  The temperature is around 8 degrees at 1500m, and the snow cover is thin.  The off-piste is shining blue ice (in resort) and we’re looking for spring snow IN JANUARY.  Our next 4 crew members arrive late Thursday, 1st February for a splitboard introduction course and its going to be interesting.  Let’s see what we can rustle up.

When The Weather Gives You Lemons – Make The Most Of The Weird Conditions

 Sergii, Andre, Carina and Andy joined us on the 1st February for a 3-day introductory session.  Carina was the curveball; she had told me before she came that she already had 8 years of splitboard experience and generally made 2 trips a year.  I had explained before we accepted her booking that she might find this all a bit splitboard 101 and I was a little worried that it wouldn’t be enough of a session for her.  However, she said that it was fine, so over she came!

Sergii and Andre both work for Google in Switzerland and booked together but had never met before and Andy had taken a quick break from work to come over from the UK to try splitboarding for the first time.

With the conditions being what they were we had to make do with what was on offer locally,  you can’t take people to 3000m on their first day of splitboarding if they haven’t learned the basics first.  The worry (my concern anyway) is that new to splitboarding clients are sometimes expecting to score endless powder lines from the off. 

Splitboarding can provide that BUT it is rare to get it every time unless you are either an athlete with big brand budget behind you or live in Japan etc.  

Splitboard touring in sub-optimal conditions, riding crud, slush and ice has an enormous benefit to it.  Learning how to deal with touring in those conditions really will make you a better splitboarder in the future.  It is the reality of the sport for 90% of us and not the smoke and mirrors illusions that Instagram and Facebook can project, splitboarders seemingly ripping down a perfect powder face on each outing.

I was really pleased to see Antti Autti touch on this subject in a recent Arctic Lines episode, it does help to explode the myth a little bit.   The whole point of splitboard touring (for us) is about being in the mountains and constantly learning on each tour.  It is an adventure, and you don’t always know what you’ll get conditions-wise, but you are guaranteed a memorable experience and that should be a big part of why we do this.

(That said we do generally always score powder in March and April on our splitboard trips but that’s not the point, haha).

I digress. 

What we were really pleased to discover is that the 3 newbies had signed up as they really did want a splitboard course that would deliver a deep understanding of the sport and its equipment.  Even Carina had a few firsts on a splitboard trip –  using boot crampons to access the first line was a new experience for her, for example.

The first day was spent in the local Chatel area – we made a few lift accessed runs so the guys could get a feel for what was under their feet and we picked some steeper pistes to see how they got on making shorter controlled turns on ice.  After that it was time to make the ‘Chesery Tour’. 

A boot pack traverse that required the use snowboard boot crampons led the crew to their first decent off the back of French Chatel down into Switzerland. 

Les Fontaines Blanches is an impressive off-piste face visible from the top of the Mossettes lift.  We hoped for spring snow, but the top was a little polished by wind.  The short turns on steep terrain practice had been worthwhile. At the bottom the guys made the first of 4 splitboard transitions that day.  (Learning your own packing / unpacking process and being efficient on the changeover is a key skill.  At the end of a splitboard introduction session with us we hope everyone will be able to complete a transition in well under 5 minutes)

We then walked, taught kickturn technique and how to split-ski before making further ascents, descents and transitions.  We finished the day at around 4:30pm, we’d made around 600m of vertical ascent and the guys were looking forward to a rest before the second day.

We picked the guys up early the following morning from Chatel, at 7am to be precise.  It’s rare that we make starts as early as that in the first week of February as its usually cold…..

However, it wasn’t cold and to try and find some good spring snow we had to move early and beat the sun.  Crazy.

Our destination was an hours drive away, just past Les Gets to a place called Le Praz de Lys, towards Taninges.  The objective was Pointe de Chalune which isn’t super high (it tops out at 2116m) but it does make for a first ‘proper’ introductory splitboard tour.

The loop is an 11km round trip but it still requires you to climb for 900 vertical metres.  It also features a technical (but safe) traverse.  This was another reason for taking the crew to that spot, to teach them another aspect of split ski control.  Learning to navigate a tricky traverse requires a good splitboard technique – they were starting to learn that its not as easy as it looks.

What didn’t help was the heat, it made the walk quite tiring, and the skin track was breaking in sections on the traverse.  It was unbelievably hot, not a cloud was in the sky.  It made for some amazing views though 🙂

The descent was okay, the snow on the descent was average, but our main objective had been achieved for the day and the crew was starting to polish up their splitboard technique. We dropped the guys back in resort at 3pm that afternoon. With a promise that the next mornings’ start wouldn’t be as early.  So, we picked them up at 7:30am instead – sorry gang!

Believe it or not though having zero (or limited) snow at lower altitude this season actually helped us on the last day of this particular splitboard intro session. 

There is a zone in La Chapelle d’Abondance that is a popular summer walking destination.  To access this remote valley that looks far out over the Chablais Alps and down into Switzerland during ‘normal’ mid-winter months you would have to walk 400 vertical metres over an 8km distance to reach a point where you could start the actual splitboard tour.

That’s quite a long way and why we don’t feature this zone on our intro trips.

But this February the lack of snow at lower elevations meant we could drive a good way up there on the road (you still need a good 4×4 and snow tyres to make it up there though).

The guy’s had kind of lucked out in some respects as this place is just a majestic place to splitboard in.  The training we had given them over the past 2 days had also given them the technique and confidence to make a real backcountry ascent. 

This tour saw them make a 13.4km round trip with 1100 vertical metres ascent.  The sky was a deep blue, the sun shone, and the mountain gave up just enough powder to make it a truly special day.    If you ever read this Carina, Sergii, Andre and Andy – you guys did brilliantly in some interesting conditions. 

Here’s a (rough!) edit of the 3-days.


It is now the 9th February 

I’m in the office watching the rain drizzle down.  It hasn’t snowed anything of consequence since the night of 18th January.   The snow on the pistes of Chatel is holding up but unless we take a good amount soon I fear for the conditions during the upcoming busy holiday period.

We should have been out with a group of 5 today (10th February) and it was to be an 1-day introductory to splitboarding.  However, with low cloud and light rain the order of the day we knew that the skin tracks would be tricky, and the snow would be sticky on the descents, so we canned the session and returned their money.  Luckily, they were already here on holiday, so it wasn’t like they had had to travel especially for the day.

It is the first time we have done this as we have, usually, always been able to find good enough conditions to deliver a great experience but we felt that to take the money and go out regardless wouldn’t be the correct thing to do.  We will console ourselves with knowing we did the right thing and that the crew might come back someday to try again.

You can’t win em all, anymore….

Fast forward to the 16th February and the Alps are still dry.  The isotherm has rocketed to around 3000m during the past few days and the little north facing off-piste and south facing ‘spring’ lines at lower elevations have turned to porridge. 

We have sticky, knee wrenching conditions out there – plus the world has arrived for the February holidays.  In years gone by we would spend a couple of days a week doing a few quiet, local tours to keep up the fitness levels ahead of our busy period spanning March – May but even that is proving tricky so we’ll have to stay away from the cookie jar for a while yet 🙂

There is snow forecast for next week, they say.  Reports from a few flakes to a lot of snow are doing the rounds so we’ll just have to wait and see what comes through.  I guess we are kind of fortunate in that as a splitboard guiding operator we know that come March when we start to go higher up, we’ll find some awesome conditions.  It does looks bad for the lower elevation resorts under 2000m for the foreseeable future though. Our last seasons’ blog post touched on that – we were praying it was an anomaly, but it is looking like the new normal. 

Splitboarding really could be the future if you want good turns in future winters but even so, at this rate the January and February sessions will possibly have to get pushed back into the months of March April and May which would leave many smaller businesses with a potentially big earnings hole at the front end of the winter. 

*Goes back to looking at squiggly lines on various runs of weather models*

Hello from the 22nd February.  Most of the week has been spent looking at the weather charts, there has been a consensus on incoming snow, but the big question has been ‘at what altitude?’  I can confirm that most of it is sat around 2400m currently which is great for us going into March but it’s a bit rubbish here at resort level currently. 

We have never taken living in the mountains for granted, it is really hard work to earn a living here but that is (has historically been) off-set by the days you spend going out riding during the winter.  When those days become few and far between it does get to you a little bit.  I am very conscious that this particular section of the blog is now just a personal whinge piece – sorry folks!

It Snowed!

Chatel took a good 40+cm of fresh above 1700m on the 22nd February.  It’ll see the holidays out at least

Roll on March and a high pressure system – we can’t wait to go splitboarding, it’ll be good at altitude..

That’s it for now – its the 24th February and its time to get really organised for the busy March period – high altitude 5 day sessions and a trip to Georgia await.  We’ll be back with the second half of the season recap in May.

Take care, maybe follow us on Instagram for more interesting updates!

Ride safe.