Updated: Nov 17
Since 2012 we have run a big Yoga, Ski and Circus camp. We hired a whole Outdoor Centre in Vallorcine, Chamonix each year, with 21 en suite rooms. 21 families (around 90 people) came back year after year. We skied, played, danced, did yoga and ate together and it was a highlight of many families year!
We choose Vallorcine as we wanted the trip to be as eco as possible and our guests were able to get a train all the way to the door but as the years went on we noticed that in spite of our best efforts, we were negatively contributing to the heavy impact of mass tourism on a fragile mountain eco system.
We used to run the trip over the New Year but the snow starting becoming unreliable so we moved it to February Half Term.
Our ski passes included a free trip up to the Monenver Glacier and year after year we watched the glacier recede by around a shocking 8 metres!!
February is a busy time of year to travel as the European holidays intersect. The roads and the slopes are crowded, and each year, I became more sensitive to the weight of the crowds on the mountain. In the summer I really felt the scars the ski lift infrastructure left on the mountain side.
The average temperature at 1600 metres in February should be around -2 degrees C. In Feb 2023, the temperatures hit 21 degrees!! The snow cannons were working overtime and the crowds were squeezed into areas with the least snow melt.
Now, the increased temperature has enabled the spruce bark beetle to penetrate the bark of Spruce trees so great swathes of Spruces across the mountain sides are turning brown and dying.
This was the last straw.
I am trying to run a responsible travel company that connects families with nature and the rivers of their heart. Instead, I felt that this big ski trip was contributing to the demise of the mountain eco system I so love.
I made the difficult decision to stop running my biggest trip.
So is it time to for us all to stop skiing?
My opinion is No.. but there are many ways to ski and enjoy the majesty of the mountain winter wonderland with minimal impact:
Avoid the most crowded times of year e.g. Feb Half Term
Ski somewhere you can access by train
Try winter sports that don't rely on heavy ski lift and snow cannon infrastructure like ski de font, and ski touring and snow shoeing.
We have replaced our Ski Yoga and Circus trip with an eco-ski alternative trip; the Mountain Mindfulness trip.