Several Swiss Ski Areas Forced to Close Due to Lack of Snow

Julia Schneemann | | Industry NewsIndustry News
The Swiss ski resort Tschiertschen was forced to close Monday, February 20th, 2023 | Picture: Tschiertschen Facebook Page

Several smaller Swiss ski areas have been forced to close in the middle of the Swiss school holidays — a disaster for some smaller ski areas, especially because of a slow start to the season in Europe. While the eastern part of the European Alps has had decent snowfalls this season, the western region, in Switzerland and France, has been experiencing one of the worst seasons ever seen.

”I have never seen a worse winter, and I have been working with the ski lifts here for 20 years,” said Martin Weilenmann, CEO of the ski lifts Tschiertschen in the Swiss canton of Graubünden. Due to a lack of snow and warm temperatures, the resort could not groom last week and has been closed since Monday, February 20th, 2023.

The resort is not the first to close in Switzerland, but probably one of the highest-situated resorts that have been forced to halt or end their season early. Holidayers have to be shuttled to nearby Lenzerheide-Arosa. It is the third ski area in formerly snow-proof Graubünden that has been forced to close. Last week the resorts Brambrüesch and Hochwang were forced to halt their ski lifts. These ski areas have no artificial snow, as their higher elevation between 5,000-7,800ft usually ensured sufficient snow cover in the past.

The Swiss ski resort Brambüesch closed last week for safety reasons | Picture: Brambüesch Facebook Page

The canton of Graubünden is probably fairing best due to the high elevation and location in the western part of the Swiss Alps. But even in the west, the warm weather and lack of precipitation have eroded the snow base. Other areas have faired much worse. Ski areas in the Swiss canton of Jura never opened in this unusually warm and dry season. Other areas that saw closures were:

  • Marbachegg (LU)
  • Rigi (LU)
  • Les Paccots (FR)
  • Moléson (FR)
  • Wolzenalp-Krummenaug (TG)
  • Tanzboden-Ebnat-Kappel (TG)
  • Les Rochers de Naye (VD)
  • Les Rasses-Sainte-Croix (VD)
  • Aeschiried (BE)
  • Binn (VS)
  • Eischoll (VS)
  • Ernen (VS)
  • Gampel-Bratsch-Jeizinen (VS)
  • La Forclaz (VS)
  • Staldenried-Gspon (VS)
  • Torgon (VS)
Switzerland resort closures
Lack of snow and warm weather has eroded much of the snow in many lower-lying resorts in Switzerland | Picture: Screenshot from Staldenried-Gspon Website Webcam

Most of these smaller resorts have no or limited artificial snow-making, and investment in snow cannons is heavily debated in local communities. Ski resorts that operate snow cannons have weathered the season much better.

The head of the Swiss Ski Lift Operators, Berno Stoffel, is hopeful that this week may see the worst of it and is anticipating things will improve for the remainder of the 22/23 ski season. The snow cover is thicker than in December, and the air is dry and cold, meaning the snow melt should stay minimal. A snow front is due to approach at the end of this week, and temperatures are forecast to drop below freezing again.

Snow is forecast for some regions in Switzerland for the coming weekend | Picture: Windy App Screenshot

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