7 Epic Winter Resorts Fighting Climate Change

Adrenaline-fueled activism can save the snow. These 7 winter resorts are creating change today.

7 winter ski resorts committed to fighting global warming
Credit: © Kitzsteinhorn

It’s a widely known fact that the glaciers are melting. Every conscious step towards clean renewable energy counts to save our precious winter slopes against climate change. These epic seven winter resorts are fully committed to keeping snow on the slopes so that the future generation of groms can shred some powder.

1. Saas Fee, Switzerland  

© Saastal Tourismus AG/Bunty

A quaint alpine paradise, Saas Fee boasts 300 days of sun, a Mediterranean climate, and skiing year round. This traditional car-free village is full of charm – think cobblestoned alleys, cozy mountain restaurants, and centuries-old Valaisian wooden houses. The air is particularly fresh because it’s particle free. Every village furnace is filtered and electricity is sourced from 100 percent renewable hydroelectric power – including railways and mountain lifts. Honored as an Energy Town in 2002 by Energie Schweiz, Saas Fee continues to thrill skiers and snowboarders with magnificent terrain and scenery with views of eighteen 4,000-metre peaks. 

2. Palisades Tahoe (Formerly Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows), California 

© Max Whittaker

With two mountains, lake views, and over 6000 acres of a winter wonderland with varied terrain, trees, and infamous shoots, Palisades Tahoe is transitioning to 100 percent renewable electricity. The first winter resort in the U.S. to commit to renewable energy at this scale, it will purchase electricity from a solar generation plant to reduce its total annual carbon footprint by 49 percent. Palisades Tahoe also banned the sale of single-use water bottles. News like this makes you want to jump – off a kicker – for joy.

3. Zermatt, Switzerland 

This charming car-free alpine valley village is one of the most famous ski resorts in the world. Over two million visitors a year – most of who ride up to its glaciers to ski or to soak in the view, Zermatt is faced with a unique challenge not to destroy the very thing that makes it so special. Focusing on sustainability, Zermatt is certified ISO 14001 and in 2013 was awarded the Revegetation Award to repair environmental damage. In addition, the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise Restaurant earned its MINERGIE-P® certification and won the European Solar Prize for design. 

4. Kaprun, Austria 

7 winter ski resorts committed to fighting global warming
Credit: © Kitzsteinhorn

In the province of Salzburg, Kaprun has all the allure of a traditional Austrian ski village with a “guarantee” of snow on the Kitzsteinhorn glacier. Connected to its famous sister ski town of Zell am See, in a conscious cooperative effort to reduce pollution and preserve resources, the winter resort became ISO-certified and uses renewable energy for all lifts.

5. Aspen Snowmass, Colorado 

Famous for massive snow parks and seemingly endless terrain, Aspen Snowmass wants you to Give a Flake about sustainability to save the snow. They’ve spent more time in Washington lobbying for climate change than any other ski resort. They’ve consistently reduced their energy consumption and actively participate in solving the climate crisis, while publishing sustainability reports year after year.  Why do they care? Because they know business as usual will put them out of business. Continued high temperatures, droughts, floods, fires will be the demise of winter sports. Sustainability and being progressive go hand in hand as the resort celebrates 45 years of Aspen Ski Gay Week. 

6. Vail Resorts, Colorado 

Epic terrain, sun, and an impressive yearly snowfall is just the beginning for Vail Resorts who in 2017 committed to an “Epic Promise for a Zero Footprint”. By 2030, it pledged to achieve zero net emissions, zero landfill waste, and zero net operating impact to surrounding forests and habitat. Vail Resorts operates 37 mountain resorts in the United States, Canada and Australia. This massive commitment to sustainability will help preserve winter for generations to come.

7. Åre, Sweden 

Åre, named Sweden’s best ski resort by the World Ski Awards, is a traditional mountain village that modernized with 100 percent renewable energy, including solar-powered lifts. Mikael Uusitalo, the founder of the adventure marketplace Thrillism, explains Sweden’s national commitment to sustainability. He says, “For us, nature is our source of income. And for our guests nature is their source of adventure… so these resources need to be managed carefully and more travelers are asking for a sustainable destination.”

How you can save the glaciers 

1. Become a climate activist and support organizations like Protect Our Winters (POW) spearheaded by pro snowboarder Jeremy Jones. 

2. Take the “snow train” to the slopes rather than drive and you’ll reduce your carbon footprint up to ninety percent. Many resorts in Europe, like Switzerland’s Verbier, offer train service just steps away from the gondola.

3. Buy sustainably made winter clothes, skis, and snowboards. 

4. Let your voice be heard. Write letters to winter resorts and government officials demanding sustainability. 

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