Without a Southern Hemisphere hike, it becomes increasingly difficult to find reliable snow this time of year. Glacier skiing during those hot summer months seems like the best game yet. Unfortunately, it looks like they might be drying up too. You might want to think about taking care of it while you still can.
The two victims of this summer’s glaciers are the Mölltaler glacier in the Austrian Alps and Val d’Isère in France. On Radio Val D’Isere Twitterthey commented on the closures, saying he was coping, “Low snowfall in winter and very mild temperatures in May.” Needless to say, conditions aren’t looking so good right now.
European skiing has long been famous for its summer glacier skiing. For some enthusiasts, it is even a kind of national pastime. European glacier skiing seems to have reached its peak in the mid-1980s with nearly 50 different resorts offering lifts. In 2000, the number dropped to almost 40. Now it is below 20. Even areas that remain open are not always open year-round or are only open for shorter periods of time than before.
Recently, a group of Swiss researchers blamed glacial changes, citing patterns of rising global temperatures and varying degrees of atmospheric carbon concentrations now combined with dismal snow accumulations. Their model predicts a 50% reduction in glaciers by 2050 with a more pessimistic variation suggesting complete eradication by 2100.
Fortunately, for those of us who are still motivated to travel, you can still find many glacier ski slopes accessible by lift today. In Europe, Hintertux, Les2Alpes and Zermatt are all open and plan to remain open for the rest of the year. Tignes, another popular glacier, has reported a change from its year-round activities and is now planning to end in July.
North American glaciers have recently shown mixed results. Blackcomb’s famous Horstman Glacier is a favorite of many and is open again this year. Unfortunately, it is restricted to training camps and not open to the general public at this time. Maybe next year?
Ice cream Horstmann also had its share of challenges. In 2015, the low snow pack led the Blackcomb team to rely on artificial snow systems to keep the terrain open and skiable. Then in 2020, 33-year-old T-bar Horstman was retired as the latest victim of snowpack retreat.
Another classic American ice cream parlor is about an hour east of Portland, Oregon, and is aptly named Timberline. With heavy snowfall late in the season, Timberline plans to stay open with its lifts through August.
A third American glacier, however, did not hold up as well. Beartooth Basin is a summer-only resort located in Cody, Wyoming, and has not reported any plans to open this summer due to lack of snow.
Where does that leave us? For those of us, like me, who can’t visit those summer ski resorts or don’t make the trip down south, I guess we’re left to live vicariously, enjoy every moment and to pray for an early start to the season. Surely it couldn’t hurt, could it?