Forced to Close: Italian Summer Ski Resort Latest Victim of Record Heat

Julia Schneemann | | Industry NewsIndustry News
Passo dello Stelvio
Passo dello Stelvio, picture: Alberto Guru Salvaterra, Stelvio Facebook Page

The Italian ski resort Passo dello Stelvio, located at 2,758m (9,049 ft) joined the increasingly long list of European summer ski resorts closing due to the current heat wave ravaging Europe. All skiing on the glacier was suspended on July 20th after the freezing altitude exceeded 4,400m (14,436 ft) on several days. The General Director Umberto Capitani calls it a temporary suspension and is hoping to re-open when temperatures drop and the pistes are safe again for skiers. In the meantime, the gondola remains open for pedestrians and hikers.

The ski resort Passo dello Stelvio is the largest summer skiing area in the European Alps. It is located near the famous Stelvio pass, a long winding road which snakes in hairpin turns along the Italian side of Swiss-Italian border and is only open in summer. Since the road leading to the resort is only open from May to November, so is the the ski resort. The Stelvio ski area extends to an altitude of 3,450m (11,319 ft) and comprises 20km (12 miles) of slopes as well as two cross country trails which are serviced by seven lifts. Summer skiing at Stelvio has a long standing tradition dating back to the early 1930s when the mountain hut Livrio was built and the first ski courses were created.

Passo dello Stelvio is the summer base for the Italian national ski team. During the pandemic, the Italians had exclusive use of the resort to prepare for the 20/21 season. The Italian national ski team features prominent names such as Olympic medallists Sofia Goggia and Frederica Brignore.

Italian National Ski Team
National Italian Ski Team at Stelvio in June 2020, picture: Alberto Guru Salvaterra, Stelvio Facebook Page

Every year the European glaciers are a hot commodity for national as well as regional teams from all over the world, who utilize these unique glacier resorts for their summer training. Mikaela Shiffrin posted last week from Switzerland, where the US team has set up their summer training camp in Saas Fee. At the time of writing, Saas Fee is still open to national teams. How much longer will we be able to access these glaciers? With the rate of decrease of 400 million metric tons a year in the Swiss Alps alone, one has every right to be worried about the future.

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