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Family Ski News | June 20, 2024

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Austria destroys glacier to create ski slopes

Austria destroys glacier to create ski slopes
Teresa Fisher

FamilySkiNews is shocked to hear that construction is planned for the Pitztal-Ötztal glacier in the Austrian Tirol.  But nature lovers, ecologists, the Alpine Association Austria and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) are demanding that the development of the Pitztal-Ötztal glacier be stopped immediately. 

Plans for the proposed Pitztal-Ötztal glacier complex involve levelling an area the size of 90 football fields (around 64 hectares) on wild glacial landscapes in order to form a ski area.  The project has already started, and bulldozers have started to destroy an area equivalent to two football fields (1.6 hectares) at an elevation of over 3,000m, for the provision of buildings, and to create slopes for this coming ski season.

It seems shocking that the region is destroying part of a glacier in favour of tourism.  The construction of buildings, cable cars and irrigation systems for snow-making will also have a detrimental effect on the alpine habitat.

Surely, as WWF expert Josef Schrank said: “In addition to a courageous climate and environmental policy, we need an effective glacier protection”?

The project seems ecologically short-sighted.  Without comprehensive climate protection measures, and with increasing global warming, it is thought that all glaciers in the Alps could have largely disappeared by 2100.  Already, the 1500 glaciers in Switzerland has lost an estimated 60% of their volume since 1850.  Austria already has approaching 3,000 cable cars and lifts (second only to France for ski infrastructure in the world), yet this is not the only plan for the 2019-2020 season being implemented in Austria. There are a total of 5 new developments planned, and 22 new buildings to replace existing lifts and cable cars, 14 of which are in the Tirol.

Robert Renzler, Secretary-General of the Austrian Alpine Club said of the Piztal- Ötztal project: “It is incomprehensible why such destruction is accepted. The glaciers melt away under our feet. At the same time, pristine streams are being used to snow glacier ski areas and reservoirs have been built.”

We agree.  Here at, much as we love skiing, we believe winter tourism should work with nature, not against it.



(Image by Vincent Sufiyan for World Wildlife Fund)