The director of les 7 Laux has bit back at media reports that climate change caused the closure of Abondance and Céüze. In the case of Céüze, although lifts were silent ski tourers were able to climb to the top of the bowl until Easter. He sees the problem more as a poorly positioned and marketed product that hasn’t responded to changing clientelle.
The future: high altitude skiing accessed by telecabines
“The problem with ski resorts like Abondance is profitability. You need to remove drag lifts at low altitude and build telecabines and install snow making on the slopes. At the 7 Laux the number of lifts had dropped from 36 to 21. All the drags at the bottom of the resort have been removed. The resort is open for much longer than even 10 to 15 years ago. 140 Days and even last year, which was a very poor season, we were open for 120 days.
The problems we face are an incomplete investment. It is abnormal to invest 5.3 million euros in a mixed chairlift/telecabine such as the Grand Cerf without putting snowmaking in on the pistes below. The Mataru run was only had sufficient snow at the end of January 2007. Many Austrian resorts have the bottom of their runs between 900-1200 meters with a telecabine to ski at high altitude with free buses linking the stations. Their is an area ski pass and skiers are much more mobile than in France.
In France it is very difficult to remove lifts and to only consider the bottom line. There are businesses and other tourist activities that have operated for decades. They can oblige us to run services that are too loss making which stops us investing and which will only lead to disaster. However it is really the competition from well thought out products that turn a good profit that makes resorts like Abondance obsolete and create today’s difficulties. For me this is much more important than climate change.
At the end of the 1980s we had three bad season. At the time the media didn’t speak about global warming but about about the end of skiing due to an aging population and high prices etc. Then from 1992 we restarted with 15 years of non-stop growth. Temperatures won’t rise 4° to 6° degrees in one go as we saw over last winter. We will have to adapt to the situation in the future but remember it was 4° at Prapoutel this morning and we had snow on the upper slopes today, the 4th of July. Colder than in February this year. We have always had warm years but lets hope we don’t get 2 or 3 in a row.”