Lift boss warns climate change to bring avalanches

26th February 2019, by Abi Butcher

Avalanches will become more frequent with climate change, warns Berno Stoffel

Avalanches will become more frequent with climate change, warns Berno Stoffel

As the sunny weather continues, the president of the Valais Ski Lift Assocation in Switzerland has warned that climate change will increase the risk of avalanche in the future and force ski resorts to close pistes more frequently in the future.

Berno Stoffel was speaking at the weekend on Swiss Public Radio SRF, following the avalanche in Crans-Montana last week that killed one person and injured three others. The avalanche, measuring 840m, swept over 400m of the Kandahar piste in the Plaine Morte area (at 2,500m) of Crans-Montana.

The Valais Public Prosecutor’s Office has opened an investigation into the cause of the avalanche and whether enough precautionary measures were taken by the resort — and Mr Stoffel was last weekend publicly denying that Crans-Montana was under economic pressures to keep the pistes open.

“It is not the ski lift director’s prerogative to supervise piste managers or question their judgement,” said Mr Stoffel, adding that ski patrollers who manage the ski area work for the lift company but maintain their professional independence — that their judgement and experience is what decides the closure of a piste, not a ski resort.

But Mr Stoffel issued a stark warning, that will ring clear as warm weather continues across the UK and Europe — that avalanches will multiply in the future with climate change and cause more piste closures.

He added: “For ski resorts managers, an avalanche that falls on pistes open to skiers is the worst thing.”

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