From Friday, skiers can carve their turns on Germany's highest mountain. The Zugspitze starts into the winter season. The Corona requirements are gone for the first time - it will still not be a normal ski season.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen (dpa/lby) - Only two years of Corona - and now the energy crisis and inflation: The German ski and winter sports areas are again looking forward to an unusual season. The Zugspitze starts operations on December 2nd, due to a lack of snow, initially on just one slope. It's also starting in Winterberg in the Sauerland, also limited with two ski lifts for the time being.
The lift operators have adjusted to a new exceptional season. The Bayerische Zugspitzbahn wants to save around ten percent of its energy this winter. Lifts should run more slowly outside of peak times, chairlift seats remain unheated and radiant heaters at snack huts are switched off.
Most ski resorts have prepared austerity measures to mitigate the rise in energy costs. In some cases, night skiing with floodlights should be avoided or the lighting in the mountain railway stations should be switched off at night. Snow cannons should be used less. Against the background of climate change and energy shortages, environmentalists had even demanded a complete renunciation of artificial snow. At the same time, many ski areas are raising their prices. On average, the ski pass will be about ten percent more expensive.
Higher lift prices, inflation, less money in the bag - plus possibly slower lifts with cold seats: It is unclear whether this will dampen the mood of the skiers or whether they have some catching up to do after the corona restrictions. After all, there is no longer a mask requirement, no more distance or G-rules. "We are very confident that people, especially after Corona with many restrictions and now due to the energy crisis, absolutely need a break from everyday life, lots of fun in the mountains, in the fresh air and through exercise," says the Association of German Cable Cars and Drag Lifts (VDS ).
"Whether it's a catch-up effect or reluctance: It's currently difficult to say, the assessments differ greatly here. We'll have to wait and see to classify it correctly," says Verena Tanzer, spokeswoman for the Bavarian Zugspitzbahn. "Of course, there will only be slower lifts if they are not to the detriment of the guests." So on days with few visitors and not at peak times.
According to the VDS chairman and Zugspitzbahn boss Matthias Stauch, a possible consequence of the rise in prices could be that guests could do without multi-day winter holidays, save on accommodation and go on day trips instead.
This is also the focus in the Sauerland. In view of tight budgets, some could choose to take a break near home instead of a long-distance trip, says Julian Pape, project manager of the Sauerland winter sports arena. "Keyword local recreation with a short journey" - that is also ecologically sensible. We have been on the way to sustainability for a long time.
On Friday, the mini operation in Winterberg starts on some snow-covered slopes, which are currently white between green meadows. It's supposed to snow on Friday. "We are optimistic that the guests will come when the weather and snow conditions are right," says Pape.
In addition to sunshine, good snow conditions are a decisive factor for the course of a season. More and more often, however, climate change is thwarting the plans of skiers and lift operators.
At the Zugspitze, after the extremely hot summer, due to a lack of snow, there is only one lift to start with. "Unfortunately, the current snow situation is simply not enough for more," says Verena Tanzer. Hardly anything is left of last year's snow, which was pushed together in Mulden to survive the summer and then spread onto the slopes at the start of the season. "Very little old snow made it through the summer," says Tanzer. "This winter on the Zugspitze we are even more dependent on fresh snowfall than in previous years and we have to wait and see." There is no artificial snow here. Last but not least, water would have to be pumped up from the valley or transported in some other way. But you see no need for it.
Other places are also hoping for snow. According to the VDS, one week after the Zugspitze, the cableways on the Feldberg in the Black Forest as well as on the Fellhorn and Nebelhorn in Oberstdorf should start on December 9th.
In neighboring countries, operations have already started in higher areas: Skiers are already carving their turns in Saas Fee, Zermatt, St. Moritz and Grindelwald in Switzerland, as well as in Ischgl and in Sölden in Austria.