This is a perplexing problem for you Swiss, I am not sure if local engineering will provide the answer, the solution is probably global, and [I am embarassed to say] it will fall to your generation to figure out.
Yes, you are absolutely right, it really falls to our generation to act. The "problem" is the generation above us. Two generations ago (let's say they are around 80 years now) they still treated nature with respect, since lots of them depended heavily on it e.g. farming, cattle ecetera. During the boom years in the 50/60's this consciousness had been blinded out by a whole generation, due to the economical profit which could have been made with tourism. Now we try our best to bring it back into equilibrium.....
Thank you for your post, I agree with you.
Aside the things you say, there is also the problem of dismissed infrastructures left on the ground like garbage. One of my earlyest "4000" was Punta Gnifetti (Signalkuppe) from Italian normal way. It was horrible to see all those steel cables, shafts and wheels left on Indrenglacier, at 3500m. Being italian, alas I must admit I have the sensation that they will never be disposed off and I have the same sensation for the Indren infrastructure, recently dismissed. Hope that something will change soon (and better)... G.
Just a curious question:
Is there some way a group like a hiking or skiing club could obtain authorization to dispose of the garbage and dismantle the obtrusive infrastructure? I do not know about Switzerland but in the United States many hiking clubs and mountain biking clubs organize "volunteer days" to maintain trails and recreation areas. It becomes a beneficial, free, and good-feeling contribution. All that is involved is willing free labor. Would this be feasible in Switzerland?
Unfortunately it is the same the whole world over. From the Alps to The Rockies to Nepal. Development vs preservation.
1) do we leave it alone so only the chosen elite can enjoy it and
the local population is destitute
2) do we develop it and destroy it in the process.
It is the old story 'one man's meadow is another's wasteland'.
Balanced and sustainable development is the only answer but unfortunately I think global warming will solve to problem for us withing the next 10 years.
Yes, you got it, I like your last sentence, maybe that will solve it to a certain degree. Questions is, who is gonna take of all the infrastructure trash from the mountains? We will see...
If you take a look at human history I believe you will find that each culture has always fought to retain the status quo. Change is inevitable on every level of our existence, whether political, economic, religious, climate, or personal.
Things evolve over time, like it or not. Though I don’t expect to see it occur in my lifetime, I hope that humanity will eventually learn to accept change and try to adapt rather than fight every step of the way.
Your article points to but one of many situations in the world which appear to be caused by climate change. Many such changes have occurred during the earth’s history. A few of the early occurrences may have even provided the basis for the eventual evolution of humanity.
Since the arrival of our kind on this planet, we have survived many changes in climate, a few quite drastic. To be sure those changes proved fatal to many individuals, families, cultures, and political states. Yet, our species has continued to survive.
Consider for a moment that every mountain we climb today, at one time did not exist. Previous hills and mountains were destroyed by climate, eroded into the oceans in an eons-long transition from large blocks, to boulders, to rocks, to gravel, to sand, and then to molecules, some of which were changed further by planetary forces before reemerging as the mountains we know today.
Individual peaks, whole ranges, even continents may disappear, but mountains survive. Individuals, families, cultural groups, even countries may disappear, but (so far) our species survives. An analogy, one which I’m not claiming is correct or that I even believe. Interesting nonetheless.
"It is not the strongest of a species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the ones the most responsive to change." Charles Darwin
photohiker, thanks for your well chosen thoughts and words. really interessting view.
Thephotohiker, I really like what you wrote. The change is inevitable, yet we as human beings always resist it.
Interesting and thought-provoking article. Thanks for posting.
I agree with most of your article but in your conclusion you wrote:-
"Clear trends indicate that the overall number of ski tourist decreases and will decrease in the future."
Do you really think tourist numbers are showing signs of decreasing? Visitor numbers have surely shown no long term sign of reducing numbers? True the winter season is starting later but surely more people than ever are skiing? If not why is there such a building boom in the Alps?
That's interestin what you say. I have (not all) but some answers. It's true that there is a hype to certian degree, but statistics (from Switzerland) of last year showed that the trend is really going down. The building boom exists only for a few years now. The industiry discovered something new, that is: Second homes and wellness! It's crazy how many , even small, villages try to attract wealthy investors who build second home condos. There are a lot of really (new-)rich people around who just like to buy a condo or a house in the alps. They are not going to ski, but drinking champagne. A good example is St. Moritz. The government even had to initiate a bill that stops the uncontrollable building boom of second homes in St. Moritz.
Interesting what you say also. I agree there is defiantly some hype on the subject but you do not have smoke without fire………
It seems to be agreed that the permanent snows and freezing levels seem to be on average higher each year in the Alps and many glaciers are shrinking – the Rhone Glacier is a dramatic example of this near you.
Because of the milder winters in the Alps many of the lower ski resorts are finding the seasons shorter and thus they are less profitable and thus banks are less likely to provide loans for ski infrastructure for them. There is a lot of talk of diversification in some resorts.
I would be interested to see the statistics saying skiers in the Alps are decreasing over all as I’m surprised by this. In the UK journalists are saying more people than ever are skiing. Perphaps some of it is journalist hype? It would not surprise me if less Swiss people are skiing but all statistics I’ve seen have shown skiing becoming ever more popular. By my own personal experience the areas of the Alps that I know reasonably well (Savoie, Haute Savoie, Valais and the Dolomites), all seem to be attracting more visitors each year for skiing. Working in the travel industry as a pilot, I find Geneva and Grenoble airports are busier year on year in the ski season as people become more affluent. It may be that there are less Swiss people skiing but perhaps this is because they are taking more holidays outside of Switzerland? This is defiantly the case for British people in that they are taking more foreign holidays rather than staying in the UK.
There is defiantly a building boom in some of the Valais region also. From what I’m aware of there have been new foreign ownership restrictions placed on properties in Verbier, Crans Montanna, Grimentz etc. Surely the restrictions are partly due to the increasing demand?
Thanks for your interesting and revealing article.
Very interessting what you are writting. It's surely true, that a lot of British travellers are coming to Switzerland. A few days ago I just spoke with a friend who is mountaineering guide in the Valais. I told me that they have more British tourist in the last few years, but on the other hand they lost a lot of German tourists, so it kind of balances bt he told me that they had better years in terms of visitors.
I try to put some statistics by the Swiss Federal Statistic Institute here. There is also the question of how long the visitors stay. A lot of people can afford weekend trips from England to the alps, thanks to easyjet and so on. What I know from hotel owner is, that they are certainly delighted about this, but what they need is a continuous and steady flow of visitorsn not only during some 2 or 3 weekends a year (when snowconditions match the expectations of the visitors).
Good thoughts of you!
I think most German tourists travel to Switzerland by surface transport as a lot of British people fly. This would help explain why Geneva airport appears busier if more people from the UK are comming but less from Germany.
Your point about length of stay may be very significant. People who take short trips tend to be more driven by impulse because of good snow conditions etc. People who stay for a week have longer term prospects of good long term snow conditions etc.
Switzerland used to be very expensive to foreigners and has traditionally always had that reputation but at present the Swiss Franc is weaker than ever (£1=2.47CHF yesterday, £1=2.22CHF last year, £1=1.79CHF in 1995) that I suspect may attract more tourists in the future.
As a side note the statistics I saw for Verbier was that 56% of property sales were to British people alone in 1995!
I just saw helicopters bringing snow from the Großglockner to the Kitzbühel ski resort. They are doing it in other places in Austria too. This sounds like madness!
oh, that doesn't surprise me, isn't also the Kitzbühl Ski Race very soon? Well at least it is real snow and not artificial snow canon stuff....duuhhhhh.....
Herd the rumour in the Uk. Helicopter lifted snow or artifical snow..........neither sound very enviromentally friendly .......or bright. Of what I've seen it's just starting to snow/sleet/rain as they are doing this!
Here is a further link:-