Ski holiday ruined by lack of snow? Try these alternatives at some European resorts

Ski Slopes Artificial Snow Ski Holidays Europe Warm Weather Climate Change - Anthony Anex/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Ski Slopes Artificial Snow Ski Holidays Europe Warm Weather Climate Change – Anthony Anex/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Many ski resorts across Europe are opening up summer bike trails or offering ‘sledge on rails’, ziplines or go-karts to keep customers away for lack of snow.

Unusually mild temperatures have forced half of France’s ski slopes to close, with lower-altitude resorts hardest hit, where rain and sleet have turned many slopes a greener shade of white.

It snowed in the Austrian resorts around Salzburg last month.

In Switzerland, New Year’s temperatures hit a record high of 20C, the highest ever recorded north of the Alps in January.

The Alpine Ski World Cup this weekend in the Swiss resort of Adelboden will finally take place, but only after artificial snowmaking from snow cannons helped the famous Chuenisbaergli slope get permission for major slalom events.

Adelboden Switzerland skiing World Cup no snow warm weather – Anthony Anex/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Adelboden Switzerland skiing World Cup no snow warm weather – Anthony Anex/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Until recently, the immediate problem was assumed to lie in resorts below 1,000 m (3,280 ft), where experts said skiing was likely to become impossible as global temperatures rose.

But now alarm bells are ringing for those at 1,500 m (4,921 ft) previously considered “snow safe”. One center, Spluegen in Switzerland, was closed until further notice.

According to Lauren Reynard of Domaines Skiables de France, which manages a number of resorts, only 50 of the country’s 250 ski resorts in France are “high-altitude”, meaning above 1,500m.

This prompted Le Figaro newspaper on Tuesday to ask the question: “Do mid-altitude resorts still have a future?”

Some are already expanding their offer. In Switzerland, some resorts have even opened their summer cycling routes instead of trying to offer winter sports.

In the resort of Lac Blanc in Alsace in eastern France, all slopes are closed. But Christophe Berganini, head of the Kaysersberg valley tourist board, told BFMTV: “We are lucky to be very close to the Christmas market, so people can visit the Alsatian villages.”

Cable car ride Austria ski holiday warm weather climate change no snow - Hollandse Hoogte/Shutterstock

Cable car ride Austria ski holiday warm weather climate change no snow – Hollandse Hoogte/Shutterstock

He also proudly presented a resort “roller on rails” that does not need snow to operate.

“Międzygórze is better suited for summer tourism thanks to its vegetation and milder climate,” argued Reynaud.

Christian Mantei, president of Atout France, the national tourism development agency, added: “It’s the perfect place to go hiking, enjoy the outdoors, visit villages and discover traditional professions.”

“Everyone is aware of the impact of climate change. We need to move towards something else,” said Christine Massoure, head of La Compagnie des Pyrenees, which manages eight resorts ranging from 1,450 to 2,000 m altitude.

Still, some resort managers preferred to ski as long as the conditions were good.

Jean-Yves Remy, head of LabelleMontagne, which manages seven holiday resorts located at an altitude of 900 to 2,400 m in the Vosges, Alps and Italian Piedmont, said: heating.

“As things stand, we run profitable resorts. The problem does not turn off. On the contrary, last season was record breaking.

Austria ski resort without snow ski holiday warm weather climate change – Daniel Liebl/Zeitungsfoto.at/AFP via Getty Images

Austria ski resort without snow ski holiday warm weather climate change – Daniel Liebl/Zeitungsfoto.at/AFP via Getty Images

Others, however, have already set a time limit for switching to activities other than snow.

“We hope to hold out as long as possible,” said Olivier Erard, head of the SMMO union, which runs the Metabief resort in the Jura Mountains, north of the Alps.

For a ski resort to be viable, it must be open a minimum number of days per year.

Mr Erard told Le Figaro: “We are currently approaching the 95-day mark. Once we’re past 80, it won’t be profitable for long. This will happen somewhere between now and 2040.

“We know we need to change our business model, but we don’t know where we’re going yet. We have at least 10 years to find solutions.”

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