As the ski-season gets underway, the burning issues combine a passion for the mountains, economics interests and the environment.
The strongest critics liken the pistes to the motorways of the mountains, but more and more ski resorts like Tignes in France are taking steps to reduce the negative impact on the environment.
Sometimes these eco-measures are simpler than you might imagine, like snow-traps.
Arnaud Trinquier the mountain manager at Tignes explained: “When you put this system in place, the flow of air will be slowed by the barrier, and the snow will stay behind it. So with this, you can put snow wherever you want to — that is, on the ski runs.
“With this new method, we’re able to accumulate snow 30 times the height of the barrier, so a one-and-a-half metre barrier accumulates 45 metres of snow behind it.”
But keeping the pistes smooth and accessible for skiers of all abilities has its own impact on the environment.
Giant snowcats sweep the ski-zones day and night, drinking up to 30 litres of diesel an hour.
The low temperatures conspire against the use of bio-fuels or electric motors.
So the focus is on cutting consumption.
“To reduce the impact on the environment you have to drive economically, just like in your car,” said one snowcat driver. “That means watching the revs, taking it easy, and avoiding having too much weight on board. That means regular sweeping.”
Simple measures like cutting the engine while refuelling can save around 15,000 litres of fuel per year.
And advances in snow-cannon design have lowered energy consumption by 30 percent in six years.
But they are still a controversial part of the snow-scape.
Vincent Neirinck of the Mountain Wilderness Association said: “When the technology first came out, people said ‘Great, it’s a chance to stop the rush to higher stations’ which were starting to fit-out glaciers in the search for snow which had been receding because of global warming. Immediately there was a new marketing argument. They had to have more and more snow-cannons, putting them everywhere.”
At Tignes, there are more than 350 snow-cannons with the highest at 2800 metres. They use 10,000 cubic metres of water to produce 20,000 cubic metres of snow.
Arnaud Trinquier said: “All the water we take comes from the lake, feeding the system and the network. It’ll be sprayed on the slopes by the snow-cannons, and then in Spring that snow will melt back to water, and will run back to the same lake that we pumped it from. So for us, it has a relatively neutral impact.”
Ski-stations rely on the environment and less waste means economic savings.
To achieve that they are using advanced technologies alongside more ancient practices and good old-fashioned common sense.
But Vincent Neirinck warned: “The real problem isn’t whether or not to be ecological, what’s underway right now is going quite well, the environment is being taken into account. The problem is, what’s happening at the moment is continuing to grow and grow to the detriment of the environment and the mountain.”
- 1Robots which tap into your feelings on show at Beijing’s World Robot Exhibition
- 2Three diverse European projects with a handle on climate change
- 3Drones playing a crucial part in helping the Spanish Ibex goats.
- 4Monte Rosa Glacier shrinking fast say scientists
- 5What’s the reality of Earth’s climate in 2015?
- 1Three diverse European projects with a handle on climate change
- 2Drones playing a crucial part in helping the Spanish Ibex goats.
- 3Robots which tap into your feelings on show at Beijing’s World Robot Exhibition
- 4Facebook boasts green data centre in Luleå, Sweden
- 5Monte Rosa Glacier shrinking fast say scientists
- 1Coordinated terror attacks leave dozens dead in Paris
- 2euronews live TV - News | euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 31000-year-old Bible found in Turkey
- 4Bomb and several shootings in central Paris – reports of fatalities and injuries
- 5International news | euronews, latest international news
- 6world Weather | euronews: world ten day weather forecast
- 7Police hunting Paris attacks mastermind battle with suspects in heart of Paris
- 8European Union News | euronews: latest breaking news and headlines about European Union
- 9latest sci-tech news : euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 10New temporary spiritual leader of Muslim Brotherhood appointed
- 11Humans consume more than planet can produce on ‘Earth Overshoot Day’
- 12Thousands in Bucharest blame corruption for Friday’s nightclub blaze
- 13‘Anonymous’ hackers’ group declares ‘war’ on ISIL
- 14‘Maxed-out:’ Jordan’s King Abdullah II’s frank warning over Syria crisis
- 15International breaking news | euronews online world breaking news in video
- 16Business news and finance news | euronews: international economic and finance news
- 17Special Reports : euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 18Iraq: deadly car bombs kill more than 60 in Baghdad
- 19Middle East - News | euronews : the latest international news as video on demand
- 20No Comment | euronews: international news images without commentary