“Gudauri” resort lies at an altitude between 2,000m and 3,300m above sea level. The location is renowned for its surrounding areas, which are ideal for ski tours and freerides at altitudes from 1,400m to 3,700m. Before discussing the snow in Gudauri, I would like to point out in advance that it is not possible to give a single description of snow cover at 2.3 kilometers above sea level: neither qualitatively nor quantitatively.
This article is based on statistics collected over the last 3 years, and only describes the resort zone (2,000-3,300 m). Outside this zone, conditions are quite different.
A diary of snowfalls at an altitude of 2,000 m can be found here. A diary cannot be used to predict the distribution of snow by altitude.
Web-camera (2000m): here.
The following websites are the most trusted resources among those providing forecasts for the region:
The first snowfalls typically occur in November. The official season opens somewhere between December 10th and 20th. Statistically speaking, December is a rather cold month, so the condition of the route is almost the same at the top and at the bottom.
January is also usually cold and snowy, with little difference between the top and the bottom of the route. The first two months of winter are the most favorable regarding the amount of precipitation. Here are the statistics for December and January over the last 3 years:
Measurements were carried out at an altitude of 2,000 m, which corresponds to the lowest station of the first stage of the cableway.
- 2015/2016: in December and January there were 8 snowfalls (out of 14 during the entire season) and 433cm of snow fell out of 693cm (for the entire season).
- 2016/2017: in December and January there were 6 snowfalls (out of 10 during the entire season) and 240cm of snow fell out of 389cm (for the entire season).
- 2017/2018: in December and January there were 11 snowfalls (out of 16 during the entire season) and 373cm of snow fell out of 505cm (for the entire season).
Until recently February was considered to be the coldest and snowiest month of the year, but statistics gathered over recent years suggest the opposite: this is the very month that sees the least amount of snowfall, and the temperature rarely drops to extreme values. On the other hand, the snow cover is maintained and is conducive to skiing.
When reading the diagrams, it is important to take the following into account:
1. The amount of precipitation is measured at an altitude of 2,000m (as altitude increases, the amount of snowfall usually increases).
2. The amount of precipitation is measured immediately after snowfall, and therefore factors such as “caking” and melting of snow are not taken into account.
3. Statistics do not take into account a particular aspect of autumn and spring precipitation: while it may be raining at an altitude of 2,000m, at higher altitudes there is snowfall.
March is the most unpredictable month of the season. Night temperatures often fall below those of February, and there are on average a couple of powerful snow fronts during the month. Throughout the entire month there are occasional small, localized snowfalls. High-quality snow cover is maintained until the end of the month.
It is worth taking the following into account:
- During this period, the temperature at the lower (2,000m) and upper (3,000m) altitudes differs quite markedly: even though at night there may be a stable minus temperature at all altitudes, during the day a “zero crossing” can already be observed in the lower part of the resort. Accordingly, the characteristics of any freshly fallen snow will also differ: from powdery winter snow to heavy wet snow.
- As a result of the difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures, an ice crust often forms on the slopes: after midday the sun warms the snow, at around 16:00 the temperature drops sharply forming a crust, and only by 11:00 the following day does the slope become soft enough to ski.
- The difference in quality of snow between the upper and lower altitudes is already very significant: while there may still be a ‘winter’ covering at 3,000m, at lower heights we can find ‘spring porridge’.
There is also a difference between the beginning and the end of March, which is much more pronounced than during other months. While the first half of March is still a bridge between winter and spring, the second half is already fully spring – meaning that each day all the above-mentioned nuances become more noticeable.
P.S. As far as ski tours and freerides are concerned, the situation is quite different. The resort has a predominantly southern exposure, while the points outside the resort are northern or with a northern exposure.
April sees the end of the ski season in Gudauri, with the resort usually closing around April 15th. Until mid April, the condition of the snow is similar to that of March: in the upper heights the snow is well maintained, but towards the bottom it becomes “porridge”. The slopes begin to thaw. At an altitude of 2,000m precipitation can fall both in the form of snow and of rain.
This information may serve as a statistical guide when choosing the best time to travel to Gudauri, and only approximates the real situation in the mountains. It is in no way a forecast for the coming winter.
See you in Gudauri,
your WildGuru team