A Guide To Conscious Ski Resorts
There's not much that beats riding down a mountain on a crystal-clear bluebird day. It's a mind-altering and unforgettable experience – packed with a community of explorers and friendly riders from all walks of life. But, rising global temperatures are threatening the existence of our favourite powder playgrounds.
Thankfully, a growing number of worldwide ski resorts are taking responsibility and investing in ways to make a difference like powering their lifts through fully renewable energy. So, we've gathered a handful of those in Europe and outlined their mission for the future of snowsports.
Conscious Ski Resorts
Here is a selection of four awesome European ski resorts that are putting the environment to the forefront of their mission.
Glacier-capped Saas-Fee in Valais is the world's first carbon-neutral municipality. The car-free resort runs on hydropower and has nailed it transport-wise with an e-car sharing service and emission-free ski buses.
Saas Fee has a three-tiered vision for a sustainable future:
• Ecology – Preserve their distinct landscapes and biodiversity
• Society – Keep and improve the lives people lead in the Saas Valley
• Economy – Ensure the future of environmentally conscious development
With twenty glaciers surrounding the valley, Saas Fee has a real-time, unique perspective on the effects of global warming. Deep snowfall would protect the many glaciers, but now, with rising temps, this protection no longer cuts it. The local municipality is protecting the outstanding natural beauty around this resort with a number of initiatives, including a hydroelectric power supply.
Avoriaz resort holds a 'Green Key', one of the most prestigious environmental awards for eco-friendly tourism. At 1800 metre altitude, it's your best bet for an early season with high snow reliability, and the varied pistes make for an epic and challenging ski adventure.
The greenest of France's Portes du Soleil ski resorts, Avoriaz has launched projects to revegetate slopes, protect natural snow and keep snow-groomer emissions to a minimum. Car-free since the 1800s, most attractions are available by horse-drawn carriage, ski or by foot.
Avoriaz shows other resorts how it's done by keeping energy consumption below 44% and is powered by a wood-burning boiler that supplies energy to 470 residences. Plus, the power plant that provides additional energy is controlled based on the season and can even differentiate between high and low seasons. The energy supplied to the resort is increased or lowered based on how busy it is, decreasing waste energy.
And, to top it off, all the wood left over from remodelling the buildings is saved as fuel for the boiler.
Serre Chevalier, France
Serre Chevalier consists of four villages – Briancon, Chantemerle, Villeneuve and Monetier-Les-Bain. This outdoor adventure paradise has recently made headlines by defying the sceptics with its solar, wind and hydro-powered shift towards building the ski resort of the future.
When it comes to being environmentally conscious, Serre Chevalier is attempting to produce electricity and reduce its total energy consumption. For example, plans include:
• Running ski lifts one minute slower when queues are quiet to save 20% of the energy used
• Installing solar panels on chair lifts generates more energy than consumed
• Reducing snow canon use by 25% without impacting customer satisfaction
Only some people want or need perfectly groomed slopes. According to Patrick Arnaud, the resort's manager, a survey found that customers don't mind the challenge of rougher slopes as these grooming machines account for 90% of the resort's energy consumption, making it an incredibly beneficial cutback for both the resort and our planet.
Pejo 3000, Italy
This green-minded resort in Stelvio National Park, in Trentino, is the first to go completely plastic-free after discovering the nearby Forni Glacier contained a significant amount of microplastics. Plus, the resort's hydroelectric plants provide renewable energy, and there are plans to introduce hybrid snowcats.
The Pejo valley uses renewable energy through small hydroelectric plants, and local homes and hotels generate heat through wood-chip heating systems, which recycle scraps from the local forestry operations.
Waking up to the environmental crisis looming over the future of many ski resorts, Pejo plans to improve waste collection and recycling and is taking serious steps towards its energy use.
Small Steps To Protect Our Wild Playgrounds
While the ski resorts do their thing, it's up to us, the global riding community, to harness some control and take steps to lessen our environmental impact. Below are just a few ways you can get involved in protecting our mountains.
Arrive There Without Leaving The Ground
Let's face it – skiing is not eco-friendly. The negative impact on our environment starts with an uncomfortable truth: air travel is the number one fossil fuel burner before you've set skis on snow. So, if we want our snowy mountain ranges to continue to exist, it's time to rethink how we travel to them. Luckily, there are several ways we can help to reverse the effects of global warming by reducing our carbon emissions.
Companies like Byway offer opportunities to take to the slopes by train. They believe 'Traveling through the world is better than flying over it.' Byway understand the impact air travel has on the environment, so why not find greener and cheaper arrangements? Trains have a slower reputation, but if you factor in airport delays, commutes and security checks… often, there's not much in it.
Find out more with 'Ski Flight Free', a campaign encouraging ski holidaymakers to travel to the Alps without flying. Their goal is purely to reduce C02 emissions by reducing air travel.
Get Expert Advice
Like you, our in-store experts across the UK are passionate about the mountains. They know the best brands and have the expert insider knowledge you need to make the right choice. Their job is to help the snowsports community find the right product so they can get out there and make the most of their adventure.
So, bag some free advice by booking an appointment to chat with our in-store experts.
Mountain lovers want gear that lasts. And creating an environmental movement through skiing begins with the threads you wear and who you buy from. This means gear made from durable materials and with the planet in mind.
Our Planet is a range of hand-picked products that meet at least one of our environmental criteria. For example, brands like Patagonia, Mountain Equipment and Ice Breaker hold planet earth at the forefront of everything they do. You can find out more about what it takes for products to meet the cut here.
Our Palnet range demonstrate their production methods clearly on their websites and produce gear that is tried by mountain athletes to stand the hard test of time. We only stock the best quality brands so you know you’re buying gear you can trust and will last.
Hire Out To Try Out
Pushing the boundaries of exploration can get expensive. So, rather than buying cheap, low-quality gear, which fails and frustrates, consider renting high-quality gear. This way, you'll find what you need by trying it out and ensuring it's right for you and your level of expertise.
Our experts know their stuff, so if you fall in love with your rental, you'll know where to invest next.
Make Your Gear Last
Once you've invested in the best new gear for you – you're ready to rip. And, to take your explorations to the outer limits of the ski world, it's essential to make that gear last. Gone are the days when each season requires a new head-to-toe get up. It's now trendier (and cheaper) to learn about the ins and outs of our gear so you can ride more and waste less.
Not sure where to start? Hit up one of our in-store experts and get the tips you need to keep your gear in tip-top condition.
Repair & Care
Our Repair & Care service reduces waste and keeps your gear fresh and ready for more rounds of adventure. In addition, we offer expert high-quality repairs for your outdoor gear - from colour patch-ups, new zips, toggles or baffle replacements – there's very little our teams can't handle.
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