Solden ski resort in Austria has decided not to offer summer skiing anymore leaving only 17 ski resorts open for business in 7 countries around the world. That’s a 50 per cent drop since the peak of the mid 1990’s when there were more than 40 resorts in the northern hemisphere offering summer skiing.
Solden is the latest ski area to announce it will no longer offer snow sports in summer. The resort was formerly open 365 days a year with at least one of its two glaciers open right through the late spring, summer and autumn months. But global warming in the last decade and fueled by the 2003 European heat wave, lead to the closure of several summer glacier operations.
The end of summer snow sports further diminishes the number of snow centres operating in the Alps each summer.
Since the mid-1990’s, France has lost the most summer ski destinations with La Plagne, Val Thorens and alpe d’Huez no longer offering summer snow sports. Les 2 Alpes, Tignes and Val d’Isere are now open from mid-June to late-August but while Tignes used to be open 365-days a year there’s currently no ski areas open in France from mid-May to late June and from late August to mid-September when the ski season kicks off.
In Switzerland Crans Montana, Engelberg, Les Diablerets, St Moritz and Verbier have all ended summer skiing in recent years leaving year-round Zermatt, which has Europe’s highest lifts operational only in summer to 3899m, and a bigger lift-served summer vertical than any southern hemisphere ski area, and nearby Saas Fee which is open from early July through to early May the following year.
In Italy the Marmolada and Monte Rosa glaciers have closed to summer skiers but you can still ski at Passo Stelvio, Val Senales and Cervinia (with cross-border summer-skiing to Zermatt). The Presena Glacier above Passo Tonale tends to stay open to June.
Austria has the most glacier ski areas still operating in to late Spring and from early Autumn, but fewer are now open through the summer. The Hintertux glacier is the only centre that tries to open year round, with the Dachstein, Molltal and Kitzsteinhorn glaciers also open in the summer. Four other glaciers – Pitztal (The country’s highest), Stubai and now Solden are open from September or October each year.
Three small glacier areas are open in Norway at Folgefonn, Galdhoppigen and Stryn. Each has one or two lifts and Stryn was rescued from bankruptcy last month.
In North America the Timberline ski area on Mount Hood endeavors to open year round except for a few weeks maintenance closure each September. It has been forced to close in summer occasionally in recent years however due to thin snow cover.
Whistler Blackcomb opens for summer skiing although this year it too was closed for a month from mid-May to mid-June before re-opening the Blackcomb glacier for a short summer ski season.
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