How To: Green Ski Vacations

Winter is upon us; there is no more denying it. It’s getting colder and reports of the first snow falling in the mountains are making us think of cozy afternoons on the couch under a blanket, wearing thick socks and drinking hot tea.

And it is definitely making us think of the most quintessential winter activity: racing down the slopes on skis, with a backdrop of breathtaking mountain scenery. Environmentally though, it is not all hunky dory in the world of ski resorts. An article about the effects of winter sports on the environment in German newspaper “Die Zeit” has inspired us to sit down and think about how we can make more sustainable choices when it comes to winter sports.

Langlauf Gradonna Mountain
Choosing the right transportation to your winter destination is already a great first step.

1. Transportation

It isn’t producing tons and tons of artificial snow with snow canons that causes the most negative impact on the environment. It’s driving to the slopes by car that causes 70-80% of a ski resort’s CO2 emissions.

Public transportation is accessible and convenient. With a little bit of planning, ski resorts can be reached by train and easy transportation of ski equipment is also provided. Contemplate traveling by train this winter.

Support smaller skiing areas that have their very own charm, like Bischofsreut near Haidl-Madl.

2. Choose a ski resort that has its priorities right

When choosing a ski resort for your weekend trip or ski vacation, do your research.

Don’t chose the ski resort that has a record of irresponsibly developing areas by building more hotels and accommodations, more lifts and cutting down forests to create more slopes. Visit the local tourism authority’s website and read up on their sustainability policy.

Support smaller winter resorts, like Bischofsreut near the Bavarian Forest in Germany, or get away from the loud and busy ski resorts in Obsteig, Tyrol.

Gradonna Mountain Chalet Winter
Choose an eco-friendly hotel, such as the Gradonna Mountain Resort.

3. Choose a sustainable hotel

Your guilty ski conscience can take a break in an eco-friendly resort. Fancy a hotel been awarded as one of the leading green hotel in Europe? Then visit the Gradonna Mountain Resort in Tyrol. You like the sound of a carbon-neutral hotel with its own wood fuelled power station? Stay at the Leitlhof in South Tyrol.

4. Try out activities with less impact on the environment

Who said you have to ski? How about snow shoeing, cross-country skiing or ski touring?

Stern W13-Images-Greenpearls-1229
Instead of green skiing, how about cross-country skiing?

These activities impact the environment much less because they do not depend on chair lifts and cutting down trees to create slopes. What is key here is respecting the local wildlife, make sure you join an expert guide and only use designated trails.

Even though the winter wonderland makes places like Hotel Lindenwirt magical, a visit during summer is especially concerning the environment is a good idea as well.

5. Visit your favorite ski resort in summer!

It sounds like a strange idea, granted. Why would visiting a ski resort in summer help alleviate the environmental impact of skiing in winter?

Ski resorts pump a large amount of money into efforts to ensure good snow conditions in the winter, often to the detriment of maintaining their environment in the summer. Visiting a ski resort in the summer means more income for the area and more focus on maintaining a healthy environment all year round and taking the load off winter.