Heatwave Takes Its Toll on Mountains of Europe

The current heatwave has accelerated the melting of the glaciers with summer skiing and snowboarding currently badly affected. Some glaciers resorts have closed their slopes, but the mountains are offering some respite from the heat and a wealth of great activities. UPDATED

Tignes in France has already ended its summer glacier skiing and it’s easy to see why.

The warm summer temperatures have decimated the glacier.

It was only open for 14-days and closed a month earlier than scheduled.

It was the shortest opening period in the history of summer skiing in the high-altitude French resort.

The resort used to be open 365 days a year, now some question how long summer skiing can  even continue.

Tignes, France. Image © David Morgan

Tignes, France. Image © David Morgan

Other facilities are impacted.

The Cold du Palet Refuge closed on Sunday 17th July due to a lack of water.

Tignes, France. Image © David Morgan

Tignes, France. Image © David Morgan

“This weekend the water flow at the Col du Palet Refuge suddenly decreased to the point of only being a trickle, insufficient to accommodate hikers,” said a statement from Tignes.

“After studying the technical solutions none of them proved to be satisfactory to continue the season. The refuge is therefore no longer guarded from this day on.”

See here for further details: Col du Palet Refuge

“It is very warm in Tignes with hot weather forecast for the next fortnight,” said PlanetSKI reader David Morgan from the resort.

“The resort is busy with large numbers of French and a few Brit visitors taking advantage of the ever-growing mountain bike trails and other activities including Europe’s highest 18-hole golf course.”

It is these activities that ski resorts are now developing over the summer months.

Tignes, France. Image © David Morgan

Tignes, France. Image © David Morgan

There has been some reaction to this article on the PlanetSKI Facebook page:

Martin Bell – Hintertux, Aug 1984:
May be an image of 5 people and people skiing
Marcus Saw – Chamonix’s mer du glace glacier lost 3.5m thickness is june alone, still awaiting the July figure.
Andy Bowern – We used to ski down to Val claret in July. 😢
Darko Bujas – Grande Motte 25.07.2010. 😢
May be an image of 5 people, mountain and nature
Martin Bell – Hintertux, Aug 2019:
May be an image of 5 people and nature

Alexandre Souza


The heatwave across Europe has led some people to head to the mountains to escape the heat.

The mountains are becoming increasingly attractive as temperatures rise.

Summer skiing may be under threat, but there are plenty of other activities on offer.

Tignes, France. Image © David Morgan

Tignes, France. Image © David Morgan

A few years back we arrived in the summer ski resort of Les2Alpes as a heatwave gripped France.

It proved to be a great place to be.


PlanetSKI in Les2Alpes. Image © PlanetSKI.

Already this year Les2Alpes has ended its summer ski season, several weeks ahead of schedule, as the high temperatures have made skiing untenable.

Another French resort, Val d’Isere, didn’t even open its Pisaillas glacier area for summer skiing.

Currently Hintertux in Austria, Zermatt in Switzerland and Passo Stelvio in Italy remain open for glacier skiing.

Our advice on summer glacier skiing is simple and remains the same:

Summer glacier skiing in Les2Alpes. Image © PlanetSKI

Summer glacier skiing in Les2Alpes. Image © PlanetSKI

One method to offer partial protection to glaciers is to cover them in special tarpaulin.

The Rhone Glacier in Switzerland has been covered in places this summer.

It is believed that blankets are estimated to reduce the extent of ice melting by up to 70%.

During the last 120 years the glacier has lost around 1,300m leaving exposed stone where ice used to be.

It is feared that Switzerland could lose all its glaciers by 2100.

Other glaciers in the country have also covered with blankets, such as the glacier on Mount Titlis in central Switzerland.

We have reported recently on how the heatwave is affecting the glaciers, some with fatal consequences.

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

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

The Pyrenees has also been affected.

Western France is facing a “heat apocalypse”, experts have warned, as extreme temperatures continue to hit much of Europe.

Temperatures could reach record levels in 15 regions of the southwest, with firefighters battling wildfires and thousands forced to evacuate.

Enrique Sanchez, the Dean of the Faculty Environmental Sciences and Biochemistry at The University of Castilla-La Mancha in Spain told the BBC that heatwaves would soon become the norm.

“In the long term, I mean in the following years, there is no way that the temperatures are going to [not] increase, so heat wave events will become more and more common… all along Europe,” he said.

The warming temperatures are affecting the mountain regions around the world.

As an another example of the power of an avalanche caused by glacier collapse see this video.

Nine British hikers and one American were on a guided tour of the Tian Shan mountains in Kyrgyzstan when an avalanche came roaring towards them.

For the full story and the fate of the group, who all survived unharmed, see here: July’s Skiing Snippets

Heatwaves are becoming  more frequent, more intense, and last longer because of human-induced climate change.

The world has already warmed by about 1.1C since the industrial era began and temperatures will likely keep rising unless governments across the world make significant cuts to emissions.

Back in Tignes there are some people are benefiting from the heat.

Those that head to the Jam Bar to have an Italian ice cream to cool down after a day in the sun.

Tignes, France. Image © David Morgan

Tignes, France. Image © David Morgan

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