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Les2Alpes Ends Summer Glacier Skiing as Temperatures Soar

It is the latest resort to end its summer skiing operations.  There are continued high temperatures and a lack of fresh snow after a modest winter for snowfall. It raises questions about how long summer glacier skiing can carry on in alpine resorts. UPDATED

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It had hoped to continue until July 31st but that date was brought forward by three weeks due the deterioration of conditions.

The glacier closed for summer skiing at 2pm on Sunday July 10th.

Last year the glacier closed on August 15th.

This year the closure had been brought forward to July 31st, then, last week to July 17th.

Now the date has changed again.

The resort opened for summer skiing at the end of May as we reported at the time, Les2Alpes is open for summer glacier skiing and snowboarding.

The Alpe d’Huez Tourist Development Company, SATA, which manages the ski area decided that the safety and snow quality conditions were no longer met to allow skiing and snowboarding to continue.

Hiking and access to the other summer activities on the glacier, such as visiting the ice cave, remain open.

Summer skiing in Les2Alpes, France

Summer skiing in Les2Alpes, France. Image © PlanetSKI.

The glacier in Les2Alpes is one of the largest skiable glaciers in Europe.

The other main European glaciers for summer skiing are Zermatt in Switzerland, Hintertux in Austria and Tignes in France.

PlanetSKI was last summer skiing in Les2Alps in 2017 and we raised the very real question that summer glacier skiing might be unavailable in the not too distant future.

We had some advice:

Summer glacier skiing in Les2Alpes. Image © PlanetSKI

Summer glacier skiing in Les2Alpes. Image © PlanetSKI

There has been some reaction from readers over on the PlanetSKI Facebook page:

Nathan Dennis – Just got some FB memories from 2018 and 2020 when it was excellent at this time of year. We did one day this week and you had streams at the top and was really sketchy. The mountain biking is good though…

Heidi Orrell – So , so sad. I spent my gap year in Les Deux Alpes 30 years ago, working both the Winter and Summer season there…….devastating to see the impacts of human induced climate change.

Liz Scambler – It’s heartbreaking to see these amazing glaciers reduced to nothing. I remember the excitement of taking our three to see the Franz Josef glacier, we went to exactly the same place that Bob and I had been to on honeymoon only 12 years earlier and it was such a   shock. Instead of this awesome amazing glacier, there were just piles of dirt and rocks
 
Joris Ritsema van Eck – Sad indeed. Glaciers in Switzerland however just opened for the summer. I expect Saas Fee and Zermatt to remain open all summer.
 
Anita Smit – It’s time to accept, that skiing in the alps is going to be a winter activity only, for the time being

Nick Davies – Anita Smit agreed… I think the Glaciers should stay closed and see if they can perhaps recover a little .
 
Andy Peek – Time being. ..it’s game over for summer skiing nothing is going to change the warming climate enough to reverse the decline of glaciers unfortunately.

Ardigon Sky – Same news in the 80s and 90s ..no more skiing, all melting. Then a few massive volcanoes went up and everything cooled down again. Natural

Already this summer Val d’Isere cancelled its summer season and in Canada Whistler/Blackcomb is only offering it to professionals and ski clubs.

The glacier at Les2Alps is used by many ski teams and professionals in the summer for training.

“We owe them a quality of snow, a quality of training, which we can no longer guarantee today following this warming”, said the general manager of SATA, Fabrice Boutet.

“The elements are what they are today, the climate is what it is today and we have to be reasonable.

“We are in a very dry condition, with little refreeze at night so the snow, even if it was present, has a very strong tendency to melt”.

Les2Alpes is now considering keeping its glacier open in the Spring, after the main areas of the resort have closed as this is now the most likely time for acceptable conditions.

PlanetSKI’s chief reporter, Jane Peel, was in Les2Alpes as the season ended this winter with some excellent late season skiing conditions:

Jane Peel in the powder in Les2Alpes, April 2022 – photo © PlanetSKI

“The idea may be rather not to stop our winter season and to go from winter to spring, unless the conditions are good for skiing in the summer of course,” said Fabrice Boutet.

“We must be very clear, global warming exists and we must above all adapt to what awaits us on the climate.”

Climate change has hit parts of the Alps badly this summer with Italy worse affected.

Marmolada ice collapse. Image c/o Alpine rescue services.

Marmolada ice collapse. Image c/o Alpine rescue services.

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