Which ski mountain has the greatest vertical

Climate protection in winter sports: ski areas are starting to rethink

The most sustainable way for the environment would be to completely abolish skiing. But completely foregoing tourists who cavort on the mountains in winter would mean enormous financial losses for the regions concerned. In addition, with all the joy of a sustainable lifestyle, some of us also like to zoom down the slopes on skis or snowboards every now and then.

This dilemma has not escaped the operators of many winter sports areas. That is why more and more regions are committed to sustainability. And according to Daniela Bär, Head of International Media Relations and Corporate Communications at Switzerland Tourism, ski areas can do a lot to better protect nature. «The commitment is very high. Numerous regions in Switzerland are looking for environmentally friendly solutions, ”she explains, referring, among other things, to the“ decelerated ”Schatzalp ski area in Davos. There is now no artificial snow at all. That means: fun in natural snow is guaranteed, as long as the temperatures allow it.

Other ski areas are already relying on car-free cities, for example Zermatt. «Only electric vehicles, electric buses and horse-drawn carriages drive here. Guests and residents walk, ”explains the city's website. Saas Fee also participates in this and also bears the “Energy City” label, which is awarded to communities that are particularly committed to sustainable energy and transport policies.

Further examples are the first solar ski lift in Safiental and a solar-powered gondola on the Wildhaus pass in Toggenburg. And such projects are not only of direct benefit in the ski area. Because according to Seilbahnen Schweiz (SBS), these could make a significant contribution to the regional energy future in the future. "Due to their location in the mountains and the existing infrastructure, cable cars have great potential for the production of renewable energies," says the SBS website. That is why they should increasingly be self-sufficient with electricity from solar, wind and water power. The resulting excess electricity could be fed into the grid and supply households with energy. Just as the solar ski lift in Safiental is already doing today.

Compared to other areas of life, such as food or energy supply, ski tourism is still a bit behind in terms of sustainable development. "When it comes to sustainability, it is like quality: there is always a need for optimization," says Daniela Bär. There are still no uniform clues or general developments in the ski areas. Rather, the regions are each striving to be more sustainable in their own way.

For many operators, however, the topic of environmental protection has at least been accepted. And although skiing or snowboarding will never be one of the most sustainable winter sports, in some regions you might go down the mountains with a slightly better conscience.

The editors' favorites among the environmentally friendly ski areas can be found in our article “In the test: Environmental friendliness of Swiss ski areas”.

Sources: Switzerland Tourism, seilbahnen.org, text: Bianca Sellnow

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