The unseasonably high temperatures and lack of snow in European resorts this Christmas holiday created a serious challenge for ski resorts. The snow canons were running on full throttle (when temperatures were cool enough) and every valuable snowflake nurtured and dammed into as many skiable pistes as possible. One resort even helicoptered in tons of snow to top up the melting pistes.
Anyone able to cancel their ski holiday probably did so, but that still left thousands flocking to the few pistes creating ridiculously overcrowded skiing conditions on icy, unpleasant ski runs. With some resorts unable to secure a skiable route all the way down, the queues to get back down in the cable cars stretched for miles, and lasted for hours, some not closing until 19.00hrs – 2 hours of queueing in the dark!
All in all skiing when there is no snow is not an enjoyable experience for anyone and with global warming and El Nino playing havoc with our weather systems, snow is no longer a given in the northern hemisphere.
So what should you do if you find yourself booked on a ski holiday in a resort where the pistes are green?
One question to ask yourselves is this… if you go on a summer holiday and it rains, what do you do? You adapt! The same can be said of ski holidays. Outside of the pistes there are lots of other things to see and do so don’t get hung up on having to ski. By changing your attitude, you have already taken one big step towards having a great holiday!
Try a different activity
If there is no snow, then some of the traditionally summer activities will be available. Ski instructors need to earn a living all year round and many of them have summer jobs as mountain leaders, guides or paragliding instructors. If skiing is out, then they are more than happy to make these activities available to you.
Go for a walk and admire the beautiful mountain scenery – just because there is little snow doesn’t mean it is any less attractive.
In the Southern French Alps this Christmas you could do the via ferrata, take on a high ropes adventure, go on nature walks in the Ecrins National Park, rock climb and paraglide.
Ski resorts are in the mountains and the local people are very proud of their Alpine culture. Take a trip to the tourist office and ask what cultural activities are on offer. You may be surprised to discover that a whole world of cooking and local craft workshops exists outside of the pistes.
Visit a museum in the valley and learn about the area you usually ski in – you might find out some interesting facts.
A big part of any ski holiday is the food – we all love a good tartiflette! Well this part of your holiday at least doesn’t require snow so indulge yourself. Without the pistes calling you back from your lunch, you have time to spend eating! Try out different restaurants, take up any food, cheese or wine tasting offers and enjoy. You can always go for a good stroll in the mountains to walk off your indulgences.
One last thing to remember. Your hosts want you to have a good time and will be doing everything in their power to help you enjoy your holiday. Take their advice and go with the flow. You might even have a better and more enriching holiday than you would have had skiing!
Sally Guillaume is Director at Undiscovered Alps.