Pontedilegno-Tonale Ski Resort has quite the problem on its hands: their Presena Glacier which allows the ski resort to have superb winter skiing and great summer skiing is melting at an alarming rate. According to saveoursnow.com, the Presena Glacier has lost 1/3 of its volume just between the years 1993 and 2011. The glacier’s rapid decline led to an unlikely yet simple solution: Cover the whole glacier in a giant blanket.
The blanket is made up of a special white plastic tarp that covers over 120,000 square meters. The massive blanket is composed of 70x5m sheets that will have to be clipped together. Teams will go to the top of the glacier, roll out a strip and let gravity let take the plastic roll down the mountain. Then the team will meet at the bottom of the tarp, clip another one to it and let the next one unravel. After repeating these steps over 340 times they will have covered over 120,000 square meters of the glacier.
Covering the Presena Glacier is no easy feat. Because of the insane amount of manpower and time needed to set these blankets up, it can take up to six weeks to put them all up, and six weeks to take them all down. Not to mention a price tag of $450 per sheet… If we do the math really quick that adds up to somewhere around $153,000 (340 sheets X $450 per sheet) just to cover the single Glacier. Of course, that is the cost without labor, taxes, and all the other factors that go into a massive project like this.
Does it work? Is it worth the price tag? The blanket is made up of a reflective material called a geotextile. This material is very similar to those old school sheets you put in your car during those hot summer days. They not only protect the sun’s rays from penetrating and melting the snow, but they also reflect it out which leads to about 70% of the snow being able to survive each summer. This is huge as it will greatly help conserve the glacier for many future seasons. Can you really put a price tag on saving a beautiful glacier?
A small company by the name of Carosello Tonale has been doing this process for over 12 years now since they started in 2008. They started with only 30,000 square meters and now they have quadrupled their blanket size and have made an incredibly positive impact on the Presena Glacier and the surrounding environment.