6 actions skiers can take to help keep our snow

Tasman Glacier, New Zealand

The effects of climate change have been discussed around me for years, and I have often participated in these discussions acting as though I knew about the effects of climate change, acting as though I cared. Believe me, in my head I did, and I tried to be good. But my actions never lasted, soon I was back to not thinking.

Maybe I was too busy enjoying my adventure and what the environment was offering me to fully understand what it is being stripped of. It wasn’t till I was looking at the Tasman Glacier in Aoraki Mt Cook National Park when this all really sunk in.

That 30 years ago the lake my boat was on was a glacier, not in a lake of melted ice. Thirty years ago people could walk onto the Tasman Glacier exactly where I sat in a boat surrounded by icicles. How could I ignore that?

This got me thinking about the snow (if ice is melting so would snow?) Did you know that between 30-80% of snow accumulation could be halved by 2090 at 2000 meters altitude and for those of you who aren’t Kiwis all of New Zealand’s ski fields are between 1000 to 2000 metres above sea level. Seems like ages away but when I am 80 I might not be able to ski on natural snow in New Zealand, which is most likely going to kill the beloved Kiwi club fields.

So what can I do as a skier to help to decrease these effects? It feels like there’s not much I could do on my own, but once I researched I realised maybe I could make a slight difference and the more micro differences we all make the bigger change at a global level.

1. Share rides – ideally hop on a train (which can work for those in Europe) not ideal for those in New Zealand, Australia or North America. But share a ride, fill your car, or take public transport to the hill. The number of cars I see heading up the hill with one or two people in them…come on guys it’s stupid. Try apps like GoSnow that connect skiers and boarders heading to the same resort for share rides.

2. Take a cup, plate and reusable cutlery – sounds little, but the amount of times I see people throwing their coffee cups in the bin annoys me. Just put a cup in your backpack and save the planet a little. Especially if you’re like me and have at least 2 coffees a day. Less waste, less plastic waste, less single use waste.

3. Pack your lunch – nothing is worse than seeing all the takeaway boxes in the bin. How hard is it to make a sandwich? Or at least order food that comes on a china plate. Check out One Million Women for handy tips on reducing your waste output.

4. Research the mountains you’re going to. Often the smaller more unknown mountains are doing their bit to give back to their environment or minimise their effects and by skiing there you’re not only experiencing something different you’re supporting those trying to make a difference – hey they are often cheaper and have a cool vibe, too. Bookmark Protect Our Winters for ways you can support winter destinations, large and small.

5. Talk it out and act it out– think about it, raise awareness, discuss it then do something, even if it’s small, it’s time we all get serious about thinking sustainably because soon, according to research, we won’t be able to ski on fresh natural white stuff.

6. Think about what we can do for the other 6 months of the year. As a teacher, spending my New Zealand winters in a classroom I can actually make a huge difference just by creating awareness in my class. Maybe your off-season job could help too?

Growing up in rural New Zeland I spent every minute outdoors, chasing animals, riding bikes and skiing down the surrounding slopes. I am a keen adventurer, up for any challenge, especially those which involve travelling the globe.

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