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Would you go to a ski resort with no lifts?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
It is a newish trend in France, a kind of return to the situation before Megeve built the first lift aimed at skiers, where winter sports areas offered all kinds of activities: sledging, snow shoeing, cross country and skiing but only if you climbed under your own steam. Two French ski areas have converted to this model: Puigmal and Drouzin le Mont and St Pierre de Chartreuse is on the same path. With another poor winter below 1500 meters will they be joined by others or is the market just not big enough? Rossignol see this as the big growth area for the future.

http://pistehors.com/nLB-C3AByuHDGsGA3HHh/ski-resorts-adapt-climate-change
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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I'd go to a resort with no lifts if it was part of a large circuit of similar interconnected resorts that offered long distance cross-country skiing between them all (with option for luggage carried separately).

But, you've seen Wall-E? The future is 200mph subterranean maglev funiculars, and super-supportive exoskeletons for high cheese-intake wintersports enthusiasts.
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There's been some similar suggestions (and examples of closed resorts) around here: https://www.tt.com/artikel/30714159/starke-stimme-gegen-groessere-skigebiete-alpenverein-fordert-umdenken

Skitouring, particularly as more of a fitness thing on/nearby the pistes, is booming hugely. I don't think most of the protagonists are particularly after groomed pistes, rather just safe and marked/obvious routes without obstacles under the snow. Old disused pistes are pretty ideal in that regard.

As in the article, loads of people here love touring up Sattelberg (can't say I find it particularly inspiring), and it sounds like the place in Salzburg 'Skitourenparadies Gaißau' is similarly popular.

The most full I've ever seen the Axamer Lizum car park is in a snowy November before the lifts open...
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clarky999 wrote:


Skitouring, particularly as more of a fitness thing on/nearby the pistes, is booming hugely. I don't think most of the protagonists are particularly after groomed pistes, rather just safe and marked/obvious routes without obstacles under the snow. Old disused pistes are pretty ideal in that regard.


They would still have to keep pistes relatively free of trees etc. We have a closed resort where trees have regrown pretty well on the old pistes and there are fallen trees on the side so a minimum of maintenant. I wonder if running a piste basher up after it snows, say D+2, to conserve a base? Of course that would have a cost and would winter visitor numbers be enough ? It would certainly be a big change in the economic model.
Having said that if there are enough skiers they bash things pretty well on their own.
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@davidof, good points. Visitor numbers would be tough to predict, and I suspect most of the demand would be reasonable local so may not work everywhere (around cities like Innsbruck, Salzburg, Grenoble, Geneva, etc would make most sense I guess) - and probably limits what people would be willing to spend on a regular basis. €10/day parking + run a hut and make your money with the margin on hot chocolate and apple strudel? Not impossible, but probably not big business either.

OTOH the increasing numbers of Chinese and Indian tourists who don't ski but just want to experience snow and take a run on the sledge? They seem willing enough to pay €38 for a round trip on the Nordkette cable car already...
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@clarky999, I think you're right. They would be resticted to day hits - weekends at most.

I can't see many using up a week of precious holiday to stay fairly low down and skin up and down an old resort. That sort of market is better served way up the mountains in huts. Better snow too.
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Being tried as an intro to backcountry type place in Colorado

https://coloradosun.com/2020/01/27/bluebird-backcountry-human-powered-ski-area-kremmling/

Can see that might work for newbies wanting to try out touring in a structured environment but getting repeat custom at $50 a throw when you can skin up any low angle public land from the roadside seems a big ask.

Not sure there is really a money making proposition in Europe where virtually all resorts allow uphill travel unless its based around a good hut that makes its money on food. Exception would be if you set up a basic rope tow and made a tubing park. Families go nuts for those.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
At the start of winter ski-tourers are keen to get fit but there are very few options and the offpiste snow is just not there or too thin.
Maybe there's a market for providing thin strips of snow to skin up and ski down. Maybe the skin track could be made of something else other than snow? During the high season it could be used by those who want to avoid the avalanche risk but still remain fit. Some people want to get out in the winter but not be surrounded by thousands of skiers although there are very few mountain huts open that aren't supported by skiers in the winter. As the effects of climate change continue the higher resorts could get busier and more expensive, ski tourers and snowshoersgenerally want to get away from the masses but like some company (e.g. in small huts)
In times of no snow maybe they could offer some other form of descending (grass skiing, carts etc). Hiking up (or a single lift up) to a plateau where you could do cross country skiinging is another option. Perhaps some form of group funding (e.g. small fee per year for a parking permit plus costs for equipment hire / descending on snow). If they provided activities for the whole family then maybe they could make it could work.


The Rax in Eastern Austria has a cable car up to 1550m which isn't cheap and seems to get plenty of visitors even in winter. They offer snowshoes to hire and accommodation.
https://www.raxalpe.com/en

Summer

http://youtube.com/v/E3UkvMbY5i4

Winter

http://youtube.com/v/xmXXkEZkiPY
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:


Not sure there is really a money making proposition in Europe where virtually all resorts allow uphill travel unless its based around a good hut that makes its money on food. Exception would be if you set up a basic rope tow and made a tubing park. Families go nuts for those.


The increasing use and pressure is starting to turn quite a few resorts against this now though. A number now charge tourers either for parking or to use a dedicated/maintained uphill track to the side of the piste these days. And/or run dedicated touring nights (naturally keeping the huts open later to collect a few €€ per person wink ). But the uphill traffic is overwhelmingly local (and/or 'regulars' as in weekend trips from Munich, Vienna, etc).
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So similar in idea to MTB trail centres? You dont pay to use them and there are no lifts but carpark money pays for the maintenance. Safe and marked routes with a variety of skill and fitness level requirements.
Cafes and BnBs provide local employment.

I guess avi control would be a big cost for resort ski touring?
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There are vague similarities to how most mountain bike centres work in the UK. Pay for parking, track is maintained out of this money, cafe / equipment hire / options for lessons etc. is run by a franchised operator. It is probably true though that in many cases they are subsidised in some way by forestry company and regional tourism funding etc. especially in the initial set-up, although a demobilised ski station will have most of this in place already.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@leggyblonde, Ah, you slipped in there whilst I was slow typing Laughing
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
https://podcasts.google.com/?feed=aHR0cDovL3RvdGFsbHlkZWVwLmxpYnN5bi5jb20vcnNz&episode=ZmU0Mjg5ZWUtZmUzYS00YWU2LThkYTktYTAwMjI5ZGY4MmQx&hl=en-GB&ved=2ahUKEwjAj7-d37fnAhWdRxUIHflfAqcQieUEegQIBxAE&ep=6

intersting chat here on the subject
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@skitow, probably means there is some merit to our thoughts!
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
leggyblonde wrote:

I guess avi control would be a big cost for resort ski touring?


Puigmal had some legal issues before reopening their area, it seemed to revolve around signage. Probably legal disclaimers, but you could see them needing an avalanche commission a bit like la Grave.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I was going to mention Puigmal in the eastern French Pyrenees, and then saw that it was the very subject of your post! Rossignol finally "opened" it last Saturday for this season - which means that there is equipment hire and a route map. But they're not charging for use of the road/parking/mountain. I was there just the week before, after the snowstorm (hoping to hire gear, in fact - so ended up boot-packing it up with my board on my back; fortunately the path up had been well compacted by other skiers). In the summer they'll be running the same kind of show but for trail running and mountain biking.

Another company is studying opening something similar in the Val d'Aran, in the central Spanish Pyrenees.

davidof wrote:
clarky999 wrote:

Skitouring, particularly as more of a fitness thing on/nearby the pistes, is booming hugely. I don't think most of the protagonists are particularly after groomed pistes, rather just safe and marked/obvious routes without obstacles under the snow. Old disused pistes are pretty ideal in that regard.

They would still have to keep pistes relatively free of trees etc. We have a closed resort where trees have regrown pretty well on the old pistes and there are fallen trees on the side so a minimum of maintenant

Puigmal is ideal because the lifts closed only 5 years ago and the pistes and lift paths haven't grown back much at all yet.

altis wrote:
I can't see many using up a week of precious holiday to stay fairly low down and skin up and down an old resort. That sort of market is better served way up the mountains in huts. Better snow too.

In the Pyrenees it might work out better because the available vertical is less anyway and it's common to stay down at valley level.
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Looks like Val Thorens and Tignes will be the last two ski resorts left standing in France by 2100.

Buying a chalet there could be worth tens of millions by the middle of the century.

Sledging, snowshoeing, cross country, and uphill skiing totaly suck.

The markets for those activities are ~80% smaller than downhill skiing.

The best hope for ex-ski resorts, like Foncine-le-Haut in the Jura, is to struggle through winter with gimmicky snowsports, and then milk the rich summer market for downhill mountain biking, or hiking to escape the valley heat and pollution

Switch seasons.
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No
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Model for Cairngorm?
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
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I would personally would use Puigmal and Drouzin le Mont and St Pierre de Chartreuse if I lived within easy reach of them and could get there for evenings and weekends. Having grown up in Canada I love every thing about snow! I think it is a great idea.

But, and it is a big but for me, I only get to ski once a year and I just can't see how I would be happy in missing my only annual chance of the high adrenaline downhill speed only achieved with altitude provided by lifts.
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@Shitetold if that’s true in 2100 I will give you a chalet in Tignes or Val Thorens.
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Yes

It's called the Brecon Beacons
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@Whitegold, is right in this case. Maybe not 2100 but not long after that. I just don't see a business model for ski stations with bases below 1500 meters if the average annual temperature in Europe rises 2 degrees. I don't have access to any temperature data but that alone would probably shorten the ability to make snow by two-three weeks at least, and turn a fair percentage of snow storms into rain. You can look at the zero degree line on any winter day, now raise that by 200 meters...

How many stations could survive with a season that started in earnest in mid-January and ended in mid-March? Sure, there will continue to be anomalous years where the snow starts early and ends late, or a few deep freezes to give us hope. But the longer-term trends are clear.

Now as to the OP: I might a few times to try out ski touring. But I'm pretty sure I wouldn't plan a vacation around uphill skinning unless I switch to XC. In that case I might pay 150 euros a week for access to a network of XC trails, huts with food/drink, and access to lightly maintained downhill trails. By lightly maintained: cleared of vegetation and dangerous obstacles like tree limbs, and pisted as needed to compact the snow and break up any ice. And some snowmaking to top them up.

That sounds fair to me.
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Whitegold wrote:
The best hope for ex-ski resorts, like Foncine-le-Haut in the Jura


Its not even an ex ski resort, opens wednesdays and weekends and school holidays.
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Some of these really small areas like Foncine can survive if the expectation is that they only need to stay in business to serve a local clientele, who presumably are fine with an old chairlift and a few drags. It's the mid size stations with the hopes of attracting holiday makers that will probably suffer first.
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I actually seek out terrain where there are no lifts...kinda of weird, but everyone is doing it. Just this past weekend I eschewed skiing at a really posh ski resort, to go ski where no one else was.
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