So it has dumped it down in Chamonix, officially kicking off the season. Here's a little something to get you on your skis and feeling good about the world rather than destroying it with your sport.
Can skiing ever be completely eco-friendly? Unlikely. But if you’re keen to reduce your carbon footprint while still get your powder fix, here are some ways to do it.
|See? Snowboarders can be green. Ripping it in Keystone, Colorado. Photo: Tom Humpage|
WHERE TO STAY
ISRA ECO CHALET – Chamonix Mont Blanc, France www.israecochalet.com
Described as a place of deep healing and relaxation, this beautiful five-star chalet with views on Mont Blanc was conceived using Feng Shui to harness the area’s natural energy. Heating is by solar power and for every group which stays the owners plant a tree in Scotland via the Trees for Life charity.
CHALET CHATELET – Abondance, Portes du Soleil, France www.chalet-chatelet.com
Built from scratch by Anglo-French couple Suzie and Pascal, Chalet Chatelet takes ‘leave no trace’ seriously. Insulation is provided by lambs wool, cork and hemp packed into the logs which make up the walls, heating is via solar panels and wood-burning stoves. The excellent cooking uses organic and local produce and even the crockery is handmade around the Portes du Soleil area.
LA SOURCE – Samoens, France www.greenalpinechalet.com
Once a 19th Century farm, La Source is now a boutique, design-led yoga and adventure lodge which embraces the idea of sustainability and personal development. It could be a modern day hippy commune but is far too hip to succumb entirely – the wood-fired hot tub being a great example of luxury meeting environmental awareness head on.
WHITE POD – Les Cerniers, Switzerland www.whitepod.com
Not so much accommodation as an entire resort located above the gorgeous village of Les Cerniers. The resort comprises of 15 futuristic dome-like pods surrounding a central chalet which houses a restaurant and spa. The pods sit at 1700m and have access to 7km of piste, the whole atmosphere being one of cosy wilderness camping rather than Jagerbombs at 4am.
TIMBERLINE LODGE – Mount Hood, Oregon www.timberlinelodge.com
In June Timberline Lodge became the first ski resort in the world to receive third-party recognition of its eco-credentials through Sustainable Travel International’s Sustainable Tourism Eco-certification Programme (STEP.) Some of the initiatives it was commended for included its work with the Forestry Service, its energy reduction plan and its employee-led ‘Green Team.’
KICKING HORSE RIVER LODGE – Golden, British Columbia, Canada www.khrl.com
Celebrating its fifth birthday this year, and located in the small and uncommercial but powder-heavy resort of Kicking Horse, the KHRL is an absolute find. Geothermal technology is used to heat the building, reducing C)2 emissions by 77%. The owners revel in the spectacular natural environment which is on their doorstep and encourage guests to do the same – not hard when supping a beer from the gigantic outside deck after a day riding powder up to your knees.
WHERE TO GO
If you want to check out the green credentials of a resort before booking, the Ski Club of Great Britain have an excellent resource on their website www.skiclub.co.uk. They list resorts from Austria to Australia looking at their green programmes, recycling initiatives and traffic reduction ideas. Currently coming out top is the North American resort of Aspen.
WHAT TO DO
If you want to tread lightly once you’re in resort, ditch the downhill skiing with all those chairlifts and opt instead for ski touring or snowshoeing. Dream Guides (www.dream-guides.com) run day and multi-day ski tours in France, Italy and Switzerland where clients use ‘skins’ on their skis to move up cols, accessing areas unattainable on tradition skis. If your skiing isn’t good enough to cope with hours of off piste try snowshoeing with Icicle Mountaineering which runs week-long courses in the Chamonix Valley (www.icicle-mountaineering.ltd.uk).
Eco Expo (www.eco-expo.org) is a new exhibition/ conference which launched last year in Chamonix, France and is due for its second installment in April 2011. As well as talks by environmental experts and enthusiasts on how to reduce the carbon footprints of both skiers and businesses, the event also hosts organic food and wine tasting, a clothes swap and gig sessions by local musicians.