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This French Tourist Spot Is Closing Forever Due to Climate Change

Europe is heating up twice as fast as any other continent.

It’s official: the summer of 2023 was the hottest the world has ever seen. For decades, scientists have been warning about the impacts of global warming and events around the world are making it evident that the temperature rise is catastrophic. Just this year, there have been wildfires in Greece and Hawaii, floods in Libya, hurricane in Florida, and typhoons in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Extreme weather events are getting worse due to climate change and the effects are everywhere.

Europe is the fastest warming continent in the world. It’s heating up twice as fast as the global average and 2023 was another year in which intense heatwaves scorched cities. But it’s also condensed the winter season—there isn’t as much snow for skiing and snowboarding and it’s destroying the winter tourism economy. 

In France, La Sambuy, a ski resort in the Alps, is dismantling its ski lifts. Families used to come to the town, which is close to Mont Blanc, in the winter for skiing trips, which were much cheaper than bigger ski destinations.

However, there is not enough snow there anymore for such activities.

Last year, the town had a few weeks of snow, said the town’s mayor, Jacques Dalex, according to CNN. “Before, we used to have snow practically from the first of December up until the 30th of March,” he said. Even those weeks weren’t ideal for skiing as stones and rocks appeared on the piste after the dusting of snow. The lifts alone cost €80,000 ($85,000) per year and the resort town was operating at a loss of €500,000 ($534,000) as it was unable to open for more than five weeks. 

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La Sambuy’s website now displays the message: “Thank you for this beautiful summer season 2023, and for all the wonderful years spent by your side. We look forward to seeing you again soon.”

Related: 11 Best Snowmobiling Places in U.S. for Your Next Winter Adventure

What Happened in 2022’s Ski Season?

It was reported in 2020 that 92% of glaciers in the Alps might be lost by 2100 and by 2050, almost all glaciers below 3,500 meters are likely to melt.

This isn’t so far off from what skiers witnessed in 2022. All over Europe, ski towns in low altitudes were closing early due to lack of snow. People were going higher up in the mountains to find snow and if the trend continues season after season, it will increase the pressure on high-altitude resorts. But year-round ski resorts are also feeling the stress, albeit a little less. The Grande-Motte glacier near the ski town of Tignes in France closed for two weeks last year due to melting snow, while the highest ski resort in France, Val Thorens, had to delay its opening.

Trying to adapt to these new conditions, ski towns are shifting focus on different sports and activities such as mountain biking and hikes. And that’s the trend everywhere in the world. Resorts are also using artificial snow, but it’s a water-intensive process which isn’t environmentally-friendly. 

It’s an unfortunate fact that ski seasons have become shorter and snow lovers are facing a world with fewer opportunities to play in the winter. Meanwhile, those who rely on winter tourism are also facing the threat of losing their livelihoods.