Forced to close early: Italian summer ski resort latest victim of record heat

Passo dello Stelvio, photo: Alberto Guru Salvaterra, Stelvio Facebook Page

Italy’s Passo dello Stelvio ski resort at 2,758m (9,049ft) has joined the growing list of European summer ski resorts closed due to the current heat wave ravaging Europe . All skiing on the glacier was suspended on July 20 after the freezing altitude exceeded 4,400 m (14,436 ft) for several days. Managing Director Umberto Capitani calls him a Temporary suspension and hopes to reopen when temperatures drop and the slopes are safe for skiers again. In the meantime, the gondola remains open to pedestrians and hikers.

The Passo dello Stelvio ski resort is the largest summer ski area in the European Alps. It is located near the famous Stelvio Pass, a long winding road that winds in a hairpin fashion along the Italian side of the Italian-Swiss border and is only open in summer. As the road to the resort is only open from May to November, so is the ski resort. The Stelvio ski area extends to an altitude of 3,450 m (11,319 ft) and includes 20 km (12 miles) of pistes as well as two cross-country ski trails served by seven ski lifts. Summer skiing at Stelvio has a long tradition dating back to the early 1930s, when the Livrio mountain hut was built and the first ski lessons were established.

Passo dello Stelvio is the Italian national ski team’s summer base. During the pandemic, Italians had exclusive use of the resort to prepare for the 20/21 season. The Italian national ski team includes personalities such as Olympic medalists Sofia Goggia and Frederica Brignore.

Italian national ski team
Italian national ski team at the Stelvio in June 2020, photo: Alberto Guru Salvaterra, Stelvio Facebook Page

Each year, European glaciers are in short supply for national and regional teams around the world, who use these unique glacier stations for their summer training. Mikaela Shiffrin posted last week from Switzerland, where Team USA set up their summer training camp in Saas Fee. As of this writing, Saas Fee is still open to national teams. How long will we still be able to access these glaciers? With a rate of decline of 400 million metric tons per year in the Swiss Alps alone, we are entitled to be worried about the future.

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