The temperature has finally settled to a more enticing range in the upper 60’s, the leaves are beginning to catch fire (metaphorically, of course), Halloween costumes are being hotly debated, and thoughts of Thanksgiving break are slowly beginning to weave their way into the minds of Duke students. Oh, autumn, you do warm our hearts. My heart, too, fills with that familiar warm and fuzzy feeling, certainly as a result of the aforementioned reasons, but more so because I know that the greatest event of the year is looming just beyond the mountains of food and tolerable 60 degree weather: the ski (and snowboard) season.
Yes, I admit I have an overly healthy obsession with the ski season and all the wonders that accompany it. Until recently, however, I was never perceptive enough to notice anything beyond the fresh powder or the slice of my edges against the corduroy. But for the past few years, I’ve begun to notice the green signs that plaster the poles of the chairlifts at Park City Mountain Resort in Utah. These signs proclaim Park City’s endeavors towards reducing their carbon footprint and becoming more sustainable, most notably that their high-speed, six-person chairlifts are entirely powered by wind energy. This led me to wonder if other mountain resorts were devoting some attention to environmental action. In addition to Park City, I found a few more:
The Aspen Skiing Company
Managing Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass, and Buttermilk ski resorts, the Aspen Skiing Company adheres to a green building policy and their snow cats run on biodiesel fuel. Following its early environmental initiatives in 1997, the company has offset 100% of its electricity through the use of wind power and other means.
Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort
Located in Bend, Oregon, Mt. Bachelor employs a team of climatologists that compile studies to help the resort reduce its carbon footprint in addition to monitoring the waste and recycling process, petroleum use, and renewable energy. Job applications are completed via email, and the resort utilizes extra cooking oil as biofuel.
Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort
This Hancock, Massachusetts resort has taken great strides in sustainability, perhaps spurred on by the fact that global warming will rapidly decrease its snowpack because of the low elevation. The resort has installed a wind turbine, named Zephyr, which provides 33% of the electricity. In less than a decade, Zephyr will pay for itself. Jiminy Peak also maintains policies on wildlife habitat protection.
Alta Ski Area
As my personal favorite place to “shred”, I am proud of the efforts Alta has put in to maintain its sick (that is, awesome) slopes. It’s created the Alta Environmental Center, which focuses on the protection of vegetation, water, and air. Always inventive, Alta distributes its employee newsletter on the back of employee deposit slips. Alta furthermore provides funds for eco-education programs directed at various groups, from college students to larger businesses and organizations.
So, whenever you may be out on some sunny and blindingly white mountainside, remember that some resorts don’t just provide you with a slope and a picturesque backdrop; many of them have a hand in maintaining and protecting the area so you can continue to shred on snow instead of grass.