REPORTING. “Not much natural snow” in the Hautes-Pyrénées, but “the ski offer is still there”

While there is a lack of snow in the Pyrenees, the ski resort of Luz-Ardiden in the Hautes-Pyrénées is trying to adapt to continue its activity.


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Like here in Gourette, the ski resorts of the Pyrenees are lacking natural snow this winter.  (DAVID LE DEODIC / MAXPPP)

I knew there was no snow but I didn’t think about that“, says Isabelle, at the foot of the Luz-Ardiden resort in the Hautes-Pyrénées. “It’s worrying, we see that there is no more snow on the peaks. When you go up, you realize that it’s dry.“While the winter holidays begin on Friday February 9 for zone C (Paris, Toulouse, Montpellier), the Pyrenees must face a pronounced lack of snow. According to a scientist from the CNRS in Toulouse, there is no has never snowed so little on the massif for 24 years.

However, the period is decisive, vital for ski resorts. Some have not been able to open, others are trying to adapt. “We have to manage to combine skiability and natural snow cover“, estimates Guilhem Richard, operating director of Luz-Ardiden.”The landscape we have in front of us helps us understand thishe continues, you have a ski slope, which is far from perfect and next to it, you don’t necessarily have a lot of natural snow. However, the ski offer is still there, and this is what means that we have a ski area open at 80% despite rather poor natural snow conditions for the year 2024..”

Barriers to store snow

To achieve this result, there is artificial snow which covers a third of the area but the biggest job is to optimize the natural snow. Many areas are quite high, sheltered from the sun. In the summer, the slopes are leveled and revegetated, they are currently groomed every evening, in addition to the use of snow barriers.

It is man who generates this natural phenomenon of snow drifts so after a snowfall the barrier is filled. If the fence is two meters, you can have two meters of snow.”, specifies Guilhem Richard. The snow will then be used for days or even weeks: “the snow we are walking on is a month old. However, the trail remains open.”

For those who don’t know how to ski or who don’t want to, more and more activities are offered: tobogganing, paragliding, yoga, snowshoes, or even “fatbikes”, mountain bikes with large tires. These activities are a plus but in Luz-Ardiden as elsewhere, the vast majority of people make their living from skiing. The good news is that more snowfall is expected this Friday.

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