Half of France’s ski slopes closed after unseasonably warm winter temperatures

‘You’d have to be mad to deny global warming,’ the head of one ski resort said

Helen Wilson-Beevers
Wednesday 04 January 2023 16:34 GMT
French ski slopes bare little snow amid warm winter conditions and sparse snowfall

Half of France’s ski slopes have had to close because of unseasonably warm temperatures this winter.

Lower-altitude resorts are among the worst affected, with slopes currently green instead of snow-covered, due to rain and sleet.

As reported by The Local France, “The period immediately after Christmas was the warmest since 1997 in France”, with “exceptionally high” temperatures recorded. These mild temperatures have been averaging at least 7-8C above seasonal norms.

Meanwhile, Austrian ski resorts in the Salzburg region haven’t seen snow for at least a month, while New Year temperatures in Switzerland were at a record high, reaching 20C.

There are less than a quarter of runs open at destinations Vosges and the Jura Mountains in France, too.

Some resorts have had to adjust to offer holidaymakers alternative diversions; for example, Schlucht resort in the Vosges mountains has opened a chairlift to hikers instead. The resort manager, Laurent Vaxelaire, told France Bleu: “Usually, the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is the strongest of the season.”

All the pistes are shut at Lac Blanc in Alsace, and the resort is directing visitors to a toboggan on rails which doesn’t need snow to operate. Other European ski resorts have diversified too, by opening zip-wire descents, biking trails and go-karting in a bid to tempt customers who’d usually be looking for snow.

The Alpine Ski World Cup kicks off next weekend at the Swiss resort of Adelboden, and artificial snow has been used to ensure the event can go ahead as planned in the absence of real flakes.

Just 50 of France’s 250 skiing resorts are classed as high altitude, which means they’re above 1,500m. The recent warm temperatures has caused concern for the future of lower and mid-altitude resorts.

As reported by Independent.ie, Jean-Yves Remy, head of LaBelleMontagne  – a company which runs resorts in the Vosges, the Alps and Italy’s Piedmont region – said: “You’d have to be mad to deny global warming. But as things stand, we are running profitable resorts.”

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