Ski resorts 'farming' snow for next winter
Val Thorens invests in technique that stores snow over summer to reuse when the new season starts
Some 9m of snowfall has been recorded in the French Alps this winter - the most the region has seen for many years.
The weather has been a boon for the mountains' ski resorts, which have enjoyed enviable late-season conditions. Val d’Isère is even set to reopen some pistes in the lower Bellevarde sector of the resort in early June for two weeks for the first time in its 82-year history, with traditional summer skiing on high-altitude glacier slopes impossible as roads are expected to be still blocked by snow.
Another resort, Val Thorens in the Savoie, which is due to close for the summer on Tuesday, May 8, is already preparing for next winter - and hopes to take advantage of this year's exceptional snowfall by storing some to reuse when the next ski season starts. It is known as 'snowfarming'.
The practice involves creating massive piles of snow, several metres high, in a suitable location towards the end of the season and covering them with an insulation to protect it and stop it from melting. An area of 3,500 square metres of snow has been farmed at Val Thorens, franceinfo reports, at a cost of about €15,000.
Snow preserved in this way is used to prepare cross-country ski trails, as well as ski runs and jumps, at the start of the following winter.
Sign up to our free weekly e-newsletter
Subscribe to access all our online articles and receive our printed monthly newspaper The Connexion at your home. News analysis, features and practical help for English-speakers in France