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The Year Skiing Died

Written By: - Date published: 4:47 pm, November 11th, 2022 - 13 comments
Categories: climate change, Europe, science, sport, uncategorized - Tags:

This is the winter that broke skiing.

Reduced or collapsing ski fields, lack of staff, COVID travel and tourism impact are killing it in the United States.

And there’s a fair $$billion of real estate value based on proximity to ski fields, now at risk.

Australian skiing is increasingly reduced to Tasmania.

In France  an entire ski resort has been demolished due to lack of snow.

Europe’s ski industry at any altitude below 2,000 metres is just done. That will quickly get to 2,500 metres and you are pretty much limited to bits of Switzerland then.

And of course New Zealand skiing is now reduced solely to the South Island, which pretty much wipes out Ohakune, National Park and increasingly Taumaranui. Nope, no more government bailouts for that one.

In the South Island at least we are going to sustain the season with large scale snowmaking technology and machinery. It’s too much regional wealth generation to lose completely. Like dairying it just takes a fair volume of water.

We’ll find slight recompense that the Great Walk season may be extended, with tracks like Hump Ridge and Kepler free of snow for longer. Both have high impact on isolated economies and societies. Just for God’s sake make sure you train for three months for the Hump Ridge as it’s essentially a half marathon each day for 3 days and it is unrelenting.

Increasingly the world’s devoted skiers will look for reliable snow in safe holiday destinations, such as New Zealand. So nothing’s ended here.

But this is no doubt the 2022 season globally has forced a permanent shift in the ski industry and it won’t be what it was.

13 comments on “The Year Skiing Died ”

  1. Poission 1

    Winter snowmass in the south island was above the 30 yr mean (aug-sept it explored 30yr max)

    https://www.meridianenergy.co.nz/power-stations/snow-storage

    • Ad 1.1

      Came over the Crown Range on November 6th at 7am and it shut for snow 20 minutes behind me. Also shut the next day, also for snow.

    • Drowsy M. Kram 1.2

      Go South Young Man (problem solved?) – imagine skiing on Mount Erebus.

      Skiing Exotic Volcanoes – Antarctica's Mt. Erebus
      Japanese adventure skier Yoshi Wada was probably the first person to snowblade Erebus when he concluded his 10-Challenge Victory Series there in 2003. The skiing on this gentle sloped volcano will probably be relatively easy for those with a modicum of backcountry experience. Hazards include avalanches, hidden crevasses formed from gas vents, and the incredibly cold temperatures and remoteness should any mishaps occur.

      The world's most southern ski field

      • Poission 1.2.1

        You can't get in as Mcmurdo is closed due to Covid,some Jinx was down there.

        • Drowsy M. Kram 1.2.1.1

          Mcmurdo is closed due to Covid

          Ah well, it's not like it's forever.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COVID-19_pandemic_in_Antarctica

          November 5, 2022 – Consistent with the U.S. National Science Foundation's commitment to balance research and operational needs while containing the spread of Covid cases in Antarctica, NSF is implementing a pause* on all travel to the continent for the next two weeks, effective immediately, while we reassess the situation.

          At the current rate of infection of 10% of the deployed population, our expert epidemiologist highly recommends KN-95 masks be worn at all times and NSF will ensure these are available to all residents at McMurdo.

          *The pause does not apply to essential travel required for health and safety reasons.

          So, an "expert epidemiologist highly recommends [!?] KN-95 masks be worn at all times" – who would have thunk it? Maybe this outbreak has a better chance of being contained than most – hope the station has good ventilation!

          Look at all that lovely snow. Seems there are no cases at Scott Base – yet.

  2. Ad 2

    Global carbon emissions in 5 charts. China and its' coal, and its' cement production.

    Global carbon emissions at record levels: Six charts to explain why (theage.com.au)

  3. Ad 3

    I hear that the Ruapehu lifetime ski pass holders are being offered $1.

    It's not like there's going to be no snow, just less certain.

    • bwaghorn 3.1

      While this year was shit for ruapehu snow, I'd say rals problems are covid and poor management, lots of over paid middle management living in taupo coming down to tell the people who do the work what to do is one tail I've heard.

      Last year during lockdown the mountain was loaded to the treeline and we had 2 weeks of blue bird days,the money that 2 weeks would have made would have been off the charts, 3 years of el Nino are coming to an end I believe so that'll help.

      As someone who has bought season passes for 4 years for me and the kid it erks that lifetime pass holders think they deserve special treatment.

    • Graeme 3.2

      It would be interesting to know how many 'lifetime' passes they sold.

      When RAL were selling them the question down here was who’s / what’s lifetime where they referring to, the punter's, or the mountain's…

      Climate change, and how to manage the industry through it, has been from front and centre of thinking in the NZ ski industry since the early 90's, and really late 70's when the lower fields like Coronet Peak were becoming less reliable and unable to support further investment.

      Development focused on higher fields, Cardrona and Remarkables, then snow making came along and operators were offered a little control over the climate / weather. In the Queenstown area the unreliability then wasn't temperature but moisture, it was more than cold enough, just dry, so snowmaking was transformational. Coronet had about a 10 day season in early 90's, and same year we were trucking snow around Remarkables to get a white track to Sugar Bowl.

      The water usage, while considerable, several large dairy units, is different in that the water isn't removed from the natural water cycle but recirculated within the catchment water cycle. Still disrupting the water cycle but not really taking any water away.

      The simple analogy of where the industry will go is that snowfall patterns will move south by 2-400 km. This has been knowledge from 80's. So Southern Lakes will get Canterbury like snow, much more, wetter and from east rather than SW. Canterbury will get the sort of snow Ruapehu used to get, huge falls, really wet / rain and gone in a week. Add in the Foen effects and Canterbury fields could become as reliable as Taranaki, awesome on the day but have the surfboard ready for the next.

      Ruapehu will get Auckland's traditional snow pattern.

      Snow patterns this year have followed this, with a stunning season in the south, huge falls initially in Canterbury which then disappeared, and Ruapehu and Taranaki just didn't happen.

      The ski industry will be reasonably secure in Southern Lakes, but capacity will be an issue. Cardrona and Remakables are going hard out to bring in more area in Soho and Doolans, both are very good skiing but will be expensive. There will be huge pressure on the environment to absorb the effects of 20,000 people / day on the mountain (6000 is a big day now), so sewage systems will need to be connected to town, along with water treatment on field. Access will need massive investment to move that many people on and off the mountain each day. All adds up to very expensive skiing, or expensive staying in lift queues.

      There are varying opinions on how the Australian fields will fare, range is from all over rover, to this year will become the norm with snow up into QLD. Our climate is an interaction between three oceans, theirs has a large, hot landmass thrown in to liven things up. Traditionally good seasons in Aussie introduce a lot of new skiers which result in huge influx of Aussie skiers to Queenstown the following year to take in a real alpine experience.

      Interesting times ahead.

  4. Hunter Thompson II 4

    Check out "Climate Change: Europe's Melting Glaciers" on DW television (available on Youtube).

    Not a good look.

  5. Maurice 5

    Don't worry! The Next "Little Ice Age" will fix skiing …….

  6. Adrian 6

    The problem this year is the aftereffects of the Tonga-Hunga eruption, the resulting atmospheric density, i.e the amount of water vapour, along with a lot of other detritus, was as high as even the mesosphere and is mainly responsible for the warmer nights. In Marlborough we have had one frost this growing season in late Sept albeit a good one, minus 3.7, at our place. Luxury! The water vapour reflects the transevaporative heat from the land and water back to the Earths surface. It also explains the very pretty sunrises and sets this year.

    A few years ago I was frost fighting for 17 nights in October to late November, nothing felt like anything was warming up that year.

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