Switzerland has been facing the closure of small ski areas for several years, due in large part to the impact of climate change, which has reduced the amount of snow it covers in some mountainous points. Since 2010, the facilities of the once bustling winter sports district called Super Saint Bernard in Port-Saint-Pierre, in the canton of Valais in southern Switzerland, are still standing, but in ruins and rotting.
Says Claude Lathion, former operator of the Super Saint-Bernard Ski Resort.
This situation brings with it serious economic problems. Swiss law obliges resort owners to pay the cost of decommissioning abandoned facilities, but the situation becomes more complicated when resorts go bankrupt, as happened in Super St. Bernard.
Gilbert Tournari, Mayor of Port-Saint-Pierre, comments, “The abandonment of this type of fixture is critical. This represents several million investments for a municipality like ours.”
In all, up to 2 million Swiss francs ($2.1 million) would be needed to dismantle the station, remove the ski lift masts, and clear a site spanning 2,800 meters (9,200 feet).
Ski resorts are trying to respond to climate change by diversifying their activities, particularly in those with lower altitudes most at risk of closure.
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