More and more ski resorts are stockpiling snow though the summer ready for use next autumn.
Up in Finland resorts like Ruka, Kvitfjell and Levi spread the snow back out on the slopes in early m autumn as temperatures cool and the rate of thaw slows. Levi say they are aiming to “create a glacier” from 2022 on, by keeping an area permanently snow covered year round.
Italy’s Livigno announced they completed piling up and covering over 10,000 cubic metres of snow this week to be saved for next season.
“The snow will be used to guarantee good conditions even in the first days of the season, saving water and energy used for the snowmaking,” a resort statement says.
Along with this argument that this technique, known as snow farming, saves energy used on early-season snowmaking as well as guaranteeing their slopes open early resorts often further argue that some of the early season training is done by ski teams who might otherwise head to glaciers or the southern hemisphere to train, cutting travel emissions.
But debate continues about the eco-friendliness of the process. Some point to snowmaking being used in some cases to create the snow that’s stored, a portion of which will melt through the summer. So are you using energy to turn water to snow when a chunk of that will just turn back to water before the season?
Another counter-argument is the amount of heavy machinery used to pile up the snow, whether the snow itself is machine made or natural.
The third counter-argument is that by extending the ski season earlier into autumn you extend the period of people arriving by cars and planes, again adding CO2.
The growing number of resorts employing snow farming clearly see it as a good use of all their resources and more beneficial to the environment than not.