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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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ski resorts

Climate change impacts on resorts – and how they’re taking action to reduce emissions

We all know that climate change poses an existential threat to the snow and alpine environments that we love. While Australia’s lower mountains and modest latitude make it something of a miracle that we even have snow, there is little doubt that already our seasons are getting shorter, with less snow (our snow pack has been in decline since 1957).

But it is disturbing to see the impacts that are happening elsewhere, in countries at higher latitudes and with higher peaks. This recent story sums up some of what’s happening in North America, and how some resorts are responding.

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The economic impacts of climate change on winter sports

Protect Our Winters has released an update of it’s report ‘the economic contributions of winter sports in a changing climate’. It is yet another reminder about the economic benefits of the snow industry, both in local economies and at the national level, and the threat posed by climate change to this economic activity.

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Baw Baw resort installs ‘snow factory’

Mt Baw Baw is adding a snow factory to guarantee snow for the 2018 season. It’s a TechnoAlpin Snow Factory 100 R717 and is currently being installed. Mt Buller introduced one last year and Buller Mountain Manager Nick Reeves told SnowAction it was a ‘game changer’, allowing ‘skiing right from the get go of the season’ (although a problematic side issue is that the mountain doesn’t have enough water supplies for snow making, resulting in plans for a destructive new dam).

General Manager of Baw Baw resort, John Fascio, says that the factory will allow their snow season to open earlier than the usual Queen’s Birthday weekend. “We’re targeting June 1st, everything going well”.

It’s not clear whether the factory will be run off renewable or dirty electricity.

[IMAGE: Mt Baw Baw resort]

Which resorts have been most impacted by climate change?

The Climate Council has released a report which outlines the likely impacts of climate change on tourism in Australia.

The section on the snow sports industry confirms what we already know: that climate change will have significant impacts on the economics of the sector, with resulting loss of jobs and local businesses. It highlights the fact that despite attempts to broaden activity at ski resorts into the ‘green season’, a large proportion of income is still derived during winter and hence there are limitations to how resorts can buffer against bad winters.

In Victoria, Mt Stirling and Mt Buller have been most affected by shorter ski seasons.

Continue reading “Which resorts have been most impacted by climate change?”

Lake Tahoe Resort to run on 100% Renewables

Next winter, Squaw Valley Ski Corporation, who have two resorts at Lake Tahoe in California, plans to source all its electricity from solar and other renewable sources. This will make it the first ski resort in the USA to power its operations without fossil fuels.

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‘Ski resorts cling on against climate change’

Mountain Journal often covers developments in the snow industry relating to climate change – both in terms of the expected impacts of global warming on snow and resorts, and positive responses by resorts to reduce their emissions.

As we know, action here in Australia by resorts is sketchy at best and most are still in denial about the reality of the change that is coming.

This recent piece by Bob Berwyn from Deutsche Welle (Germany’s international broadcaster) looks at the limitations of relying on artificial snow making as a buffer against climate change. Looking mostly at Europe, the key message is really just common sense – it will be the lower altitude resorts that will be hit first. That’s directly applicable to the reality that Australian resorts face given our low elevation mountains and moderate latitudes.

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A mountain community stands up against hate

There can be little doubt that the election of Donald Trump has emboldened racists, homophobes and bigots not only across the USA but also around the world. A growing number of people are actively opposing the ‘normalisation’ of hate. Many people and even businesses who would normally consider themselves to be ‘non political’ are finding that they need to speak up and get active.

One simple example of this has been the outdoor industries becoming active in opposing Donald Trump’s anti environment agenda.

Another example of (perhaps unexpected) opposition to bigotry and homophobia comes from the ski resort of Aspen Snowmass in Colorado, who have launched a campaign to clearly explain the core values of the resort: based on unity and non-discrimination.

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Park City has pledged to reduce it’s carbon footprint to zero by 2032

Climate change is bearing down on us. The threat posed to people, economies and natural ecosystems is of a level only surpassed by the risk of nuclear war. For those of us who love mountains and winter, the threat is obvious enough: shorter, more erratic snow seasons.

While here in Australia we face a dwindling snow pack, it’s the same story in ranges around the world. For instance, in the Northern Cascades National Park, which contains 1/3 of the glaciers in the Lower 48 states of the USA, the glaciers have lost a half of their mass over the past century. Since 1955, the mountains of the western ranges of the USA have lost 23% of snowpack.

This is having a direct impact on local economies. Low snow seasons in the western USA between 2000 and 2010 cost the ski industry more than US$1B in lost revenue.

Many resorts and individual players in the snow industry have been stepping up and joining the fight against climate change. Park City in Utah is one of the latest.

Continue reading “Park City has pledged to reduce it’s carbon footprint to zero by 2032”

VIC gov calls for expressions of interest in Alpine Resort Management Boards

Following the recent announcement by the Victorian government that it would restructure ski resort management boards at four resorts, there has now been a call for expressions of interest for 13 positions across the boards responsible for managing Falls Creek, Mt Buller/ Mt Stirling and Mt Hotham.

Continue reading “VIC gov calls for expressions of interest in Alpine Resort Management Boards”

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