Adapting to a Melting Slope: The Urgent Challenge Facing Alpine Skiing
Due to the disruption of historic snowfall patterns caused by climate change, the iconic appeal of skiing in the Alps is facing an existential threat. Resorts in Morzine and Les Gets had significant rainfall, postponing full openings until just days before Christmas, defying early expectations of a snowy autumn. This situation is more than just a little annoyance; it highlights a serious threat to a $30 billion economy that makes the Alps the most popular ski destination in the world.
The picture presented by science is clear. 53% of European resorts may be at high danger of having insufficient snow cover with a 2°C increase in global temperatures, according to recent reports. This risk soars to 98% in the event of a 4°C global warming. A different study shows that over the past 600 years, there has been a “unprecedented” decrease in snow cover in the Alps, with a 36-day reduction in duration.
Winter sports players are putting growing pressure on the International Ski Federation (FIS), which was first mired in a climate scandal. A petition with more than 35,000 signatures calls for FIS to reduce air travel, modify race scheduling, openly evaluate its environmental impact, and promote climate action.
FIS promises to cut carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 and is a signatory to the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework. Still, there is unhappiness, with sportsmen highlighting the need for concrete, quick action.
Attempts to tackle the issue go beyond dissatisfaction. A grassroots movement toward a low-carbon future is being led by organizations like Montagne Verte in Morzine. With an emphasis on four-season travel, they highlight the valley’s allure throughout the year and promote outdoor pursuits like hiking, mountain biking, and climbing.
Particular companies are also adjusting. Luxury chalet vacation provider AliKats is turning its attention from winter skiing to meeting the growing demand for spring and fall getaways. The objective is unambiguous: shift to a four-season business plan.
There is no denying the dangers facing alpine skiing, but other solutions are starting to surface. The sector is at a turning point, with everything from municipal initiatives imagining a future beyond snow-dependent tourism to athlete activism questioning governing agencies. The decision for Alpine towns is to embrace a resilient and sustainable future rather than merely adapting to survive.