As the mercury continues to rise, mountain resorts are preparing for a future that puts vacations in the snow in question.
“And skiing has a future. Of course, there is less snow. Of course, we will have to get used to and develop a mountain that is attractive in spring and summer, but which remains attractive in winter. » The words of Olivia Grégoire ring in my ears. The Minister of Tourism addressed the audience of experts and representatives of associations, guides, instructors, hoteliers gathered on October 26 at Chamonix, during the “Sustainable Mountain Summit”. Their smallest common denominator: life in the mountains and the desire to continue living there even when there is no more skiing. Proven solutions line up around the round tables. Namely, the minister came to be “inspired”. “A sustainable mountain, a mountain of four seasons, is important. But in Chamonix, in the Arva Valley, you didn’t wait for the energy crisis, you predicted it,” she congratulates.
Not hitting on skis
White gold is not gone yet. But last December, a “warm spell” forced the closure of half of France’s ski slopes. The president of the National Association of Mayors of Mountain Resorts, Jean-Luc Boch, then rebelled against it “hitting on skis”, condemning a “a lack of understanding of the economic model that maintains our territories, even though France has bet everything on tourism”, in an interview with Figaro. Snowboard fans are excited to watch the first snowflakes of the new season. “I put on skis the year I started walking. I find it unbearable to think that my passion contributes to the direct destruction of the environments in which I operate. sings Antoine Pin, director of Protect Our Winters France, a collective of outdoor sports activists, during the second conference on “positive tourism”, organized a few days before the conference in Chamonix, in La Grande-Motte in Occitanie. “Being open to the environment they frequent, outdoor sports practitioners can be carriers of a strong commitment to the climate and inspire the rest of the population, continues this great traveler of the peaks. So, before we stop all that, we will do everything to make our activities compatible with the global challenges of the Paris Agreement. »
The mountain of four seasons
In this sense, Compagnie du Mont-Blanc is now becoming a company with a mission, in order to formalize its activities in favor of environmental protection and mountain accessibility. More opening of the Chamonix-Mont-Blanc valley for tourism from five to ten months a year corresponds to “the mountain principle of the four seasons”, emphasizes its president Mathieu Dechavanne. And then, the reconstruction of archistar Renzo Piano’s cable car stations at the Grands Montets location, with opening planned for 2026, opens up a perspective for hiking enthusiasts whose options are shrinking at the same time as the cold and snow. “With global warming, the difficulties of the Mer de Glace and the danger of the mountains, we need a place where we can go hiking. And that’s this one,” points out Mathieu Dechavanne. André Maurois’ words resonate. “An evening spent reading great books is for the mind what being in the mountains is for the soul,” writes Olivier Greber, president of the Compagnie des guides de Chamonix, in the foreword of the book’s document, Mountain guides and climate change. The story of the adaptation *, published in 2021 on the occasion of the association’s 200th anniversary. If it is not about snow, it is because for accompanying guides emotion precedes matter, the mountain stands out as a place of sharing above all else. A great photograph of a bivouac set up at sunset on the summit ridge of Les Droites, at an altitude of 4,000 meters, illustrates one of the pages. “Provided you know how to manage your environmental impact, bivouac is offered here as a tool to slow the pace of racing and adapt to changing conditions,” indicates the title. And this emphasizes: “This image reflects the “classic” imagination of high mountains that we have been able to convey for decades and shows a landscape that is as beautiful as it is fragile (…). » Mountaineers are sentinels, determined to keep us dreaming.
* This booklet is available free of charge at Chamonix-guides.com