Road and lift closures. Evacuations and residents confined to their homes.
The storms that have brought over 7 meters (23 feet) of snow to the Pyrenees since the New Year don’t seem to be putting a smile on ski resort director’s faces.
Quite the opposite in fact. Some are asking if they were not better off with last season’s snow drought.
Yesterday at Mourtis, a resort where skiers are more familiar with grass and mud, the piste bashers were running non-stop and the upper lifts have barely opened all week. The diesel bills is eye watering.
Noël Lacaze, director at Peyragudes, says that avalanche control work has been non-stop. “We’ve already used 900 kg of explosives, we’ve never done that before, that’s between 15,000 to 20,000 euros alone”. Add to that overtime plus the work clearing roofs and roads as well as additional heating costs and Lacuze thinks snowmaking might be cheaper than dealing with the effects of too much snow.
It is not as if the resorts have seen an influx of visitors brought by the excellent snow depths. Those resorts which have opened have seen guest numbers at half normal levels. Fewer lift pass sales, fewer skis rented and less people in restaurants. The authorities have also been quick to close mountain roads, sometimes for a number of days.
Thanks to Thomas McHart for this link