As climate change linked weather puts a damper on the ski season, lifts are open for mountain biking across the Alps

Snow boarders on a small piece of snow as high temperatures wipe out the ski season
(Image credit: Anthony Anex)

January in the Alps should see the mountains full of skiers and snowboarders enjoying the winter snow, but with unprecedented damp weather along with record-high winter temperatures settled in across Europe, it's mountain biking rather than skiing that's helping fill struggling resorts as the snow shortages bite hard.

The lack of snow in resorts like Les Gets has made skiing almost impossible and has seen uplifts opening specifically for mountain bikers. Passes are being heavily discounted as the resorts look to stabilize their income by encouraging riders to hit the snow-free trails in January.

The ski resort of Adelboden with no snow

The scene in Adelboden as they attempted to host the alpine skiing World Cup on 6th January (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Is this a sign of things to come? Climate experts suggest we should not be surprised by this weather as the effect of global warming will continue to cause warmer, wetter winters. But as with the shrinking of the Alpine glaciers, the rate at which ski resorts are becoming unviable seems to be accelerating.

Just a few years ago, Swiss resorts warned that skiing below 1,000m was, over time, likely to become impossible as global temperatures rose. At 1,500m the resort of Splügen was once considered "snow safe", but has been shut down until further notice as another example of the rise in temperatures.

World Cup ski events are under threat as the usual snowy slopes have turned to mud and grass. Resorts are having to use an army of snow cannons to create artificial snow in an attempt to host their events. It has brought surreal scenes of the world's top skiers flying across finish lines on artificial snow, surrounded by grass and minimal spectators.

With the mountain forecast remaining warm and wet, it's an unexpected bonus for mountain bikes to be riding these locations. However, it's a long term worrying sign that we all should take notice of and with many Alpine communities dependent on winter sports for their livelihoods, the snow needs to come soon.

Paul Brett
Staff writer

Based in Edinburgh, Paul Brett is a staff writer for BikePerfect.com. He has been an avid cyclist for as long as he can remember, initially catching the mountain biking bug in the 1990s, and raced mountain bikes for over a decade before injury cut short a glittering career. He’s since developed an obsession for gravel riding and recently has dabbled in the dark art of cyclocross. A fan of the idea of bikepacking he has occasionally got involved and has ridden routes like the North Coast 500, Scotland and the Via Francigena (Pilgrim Route), Italy.


An award-winning photographer, when not riding a bike, he can be found at the side of a cyclocross track or a downhill mountain bike world championship shooting the action. Paul has been the founder, editor and senior writer for Proper Cycling magazine that has seen him travel the world interviewing some of the biggest names in mountain biking and writing about some of the biggest cycling brands.


Rides: Scott Spark RC Team Issue, Bergamont Grandurance Elite, Standert Kreissäge Team Edition


Height: 176cm


Weight: 85kg