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Without a white coat, European alpine resorts brood



(Semmering) Strips of earthy snow that meander through the brownish hills: the alpine resorts offer a sad face at the beginning of January, against a backdrop of mildness linked to global warming.

From France to Italy, from Switzerland to Austria, many tracks are closed. The fault of exceptionally mild temperatures across Europe which melted the white coat.

In Semmering, Austria, an hour’s drive from Vienna, where Alpine Skiing World Cup events took place at the end of December, only two-thirds of the area is now accessible.

While snow returned this week, the resort hadn’t seen flakes in weeks. And useless in terms of profitability to turn the guns as long as the thermometer does not drop to minus three degrees, explains to AFP Nazar Nydza, person in charge of the places.

“The atmosphere is not wintry”, he laments, even if he wants to keep hope for the rest of the season.

Serial accidents

Among snow sports enthusiasts, Gregor Macara, a New Zealand tourist, would have liked to discover Austria “under a white coat”. “It’s disappointing, what a pity! “says this 34-year-old scientist.

Over the years, this great mountain nation has seen less snow cover, a trend that will accelerate over the coming decades in areas below 1,500 meters, according to UN climate experts ( IPCC).


A few tourists are skiing on an artificial snow track on the Semmering pass.

Even before this winter, hundreds of ski lifts had already closed in the Alps, which have lost almost a month of snow cover at low and medium altitudes for half a century.

At the risk of endangering skiers? The debate emerged this winter in Austria, after a series of fatal accidents.

A total of 13 people died from 1er November to January 3, compared to an average of seven during the same period over the last decade, according to official statistics.

Investigations are underway but the lack of snow has been put forward to explain the death of some sliders, during fatal runs on stony ground.

Role play or yoga

The same landscape of desolation in neighboring Switzerland. In the village of Leysin, only the top of the mountain is dusted with snow and skiers concentrate on the slopes located at more than 2200 meters above sea level.

Below, grass as far as the eye can see, far from the magical landscapes of postcards.


Skiers skim over a thin layer of artificial snow as winter temperatures are warmer than usual in the Alps in Leysin, Switzerland.

Jean-Marc Gross, hiker from Lausanne, confides “his anxiety about what is happening to our climate”.

In another Swiss station, that of Torgon, we are also sorry. Even if we find something to take care of.

“The tourist office offers escape games”, role-playing games based on puzzles to be solved in a limited time, or treasure hunts in the forest, explains Emilie Byland, who lives in the region.

“It’s still worrying, it saddens us a little,” she says, while a tourist from Zurich, Anna Reiner, “is worried about higher temperatures each year”.

Elsewhere, yoga classes or hikes with goats are offered to ski pass holders.

From ski schools to resort managers, professionals are trying to stay positive after two years of anti-COVID-19 restrictions and are talking about similar mild times in the past.

As if to ward off climate change, which threatens their livelihood.

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