The French ski resort of Tignes is one of the only glacier ski areas to remain open for skiing in the summer months. Traditionally, it was possible to ski every day of the year. Due to the glacier melting over the last few decades, the summer ski season has been reduced to just a few weeks. And this summer, Tignes announced it would be closing the glacier ski area ten days early in light of the heatwave that ravaged France this month. The ski area closed on July 25th instead of August 4th as was originally scheduled. The glacier will remain open to pedestrians until the end of August.
The summer ski area on the Grande Motte glacier at Tignes has 20km of slopes plus a snow park and cross-country skiing trails. It was open this summer from June 21 to 28, and from June 26 to July 25. On July 24th, it was abruptly announced that July 25th would be the last day of skiing on the Grande Motte glacier. A brief report on the resort's website says that "safety and quality conditions are no longer met on the glacier". Indeed, the video below shows the extreme melting that has occurred on the glacier, with bare patches and limited snow cover. The heatwave that gripped the continent in July saw temperatures of 36°C in Chamonix and 7°C at the summit of Mont Blanc.
It's feast or famine when it comes to snowfall in the Alps these days. This winter saw dozens of metres of snowfall in Austria, causing avalanches and road closures, while the French and Swiss Alps remained practically bare in high season, only to get a last-minute dump of snow in late spring. Last year, sister resort Val d'Isère opened some of its winter ski slopes in summer for the first time in history following the winter's abundant snowfall. But worrying snow conditions on the glacier have prompted Tignes to lay plans to build an indoor ski slope at 2000m above sea level to compensate for the shorter and shorter ski seasons. In 2016, it was announced that the Grande Motte glacier ski area had already shrunk by 30%.
The shared ski area of Tignes-Val d'Isère, formerly known as the Espace Killy, has 300km of slopes in total. The ski area is known for its incredible off-piste skiing, world-class snow park and summer ski area. Set in a stunning location bordering the Vanoise National Park near the border with Italy, Tignes-Val d'Isère is one of the easiest ski resorts to reach from the UK thanks to its proximity to the Lyon and Chambéry airports.
Teaser image: Webcam photo © Tignes
Born and raised in the ski paradise of Vancouver, Canada, I learned to ski before I can remember, balancing precariously on my parents’ skis as they sailed down the hill. I started snowboarding in my teens and am now delighted to be exploring everything Europe’s ski scene has to offer!
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