You don't have to go far to find true winter wilderness, where reality matches the fantasy.
Responsible skiing holidays
In Austria, most of the ski stations are mid to low level, and in 30 to 50 years, they will all be out of business because the snow will be gone
– Sergio Savoia, Director World Wildlife Fund’s Alpine Programme, interviewed by Leo Hickman for his seminal book, The Final Call
The impacts of downhill skiing can be so heavy, the International Commission for the Protection of the Alps (CIPRA), founded in 1952, has urged the International Olympic Committee to share the Winter Olympics between two or three permanent hosts, and not overdevelop our mountains any more than we are doing already. Because mountain experts take their mountain protection very seriously. Indeed, another international conservation group, Mountain Wilderness, describes skiing as ‘the cancer of the Alps’. Heli-skiing, downhill trampling and energy-eating cannons pumping out fake snow are top sore points. Not forgetting the noise pollution emanating across these blanketed valleys from resorts. Cross country skiing and ski touring in wild places is, without a doubt, a more environmentally friendly way of enjoying some of the most pristine natural environments in the world. It is growing in popularity, however, so it should also be monitored. Because although skiing of all kinds sustains livelihoods for mountain communities, these same mountains must be conserved for the future.
Our Cross country skiing Holidays
Downhill destruction makes us crossTo tell downhill skiers that their favourite pastime can actually be hugely destructive is like telling a child there is no Santa Claus. It’s the one magical time of year when we get to feel like kids again in the snow, play, get silly, eat, drink and be merry. However, here are some of the major issues with downhill skiing. Apart from that, the good news is that Santa is real. Just go cross country skiing in Lapland and you might just find him.
What you can do
Make sure you travel with a company that has a responsible tourism policy. These experts understand the mountain environments, use highly qualified guides (local ones ideally) and also support small local communities by staying in small, locally owned accommodation and eating in rural restaurants and bars. If downhill is your thing, then consult a sustainable skiing website such as Save our Snow, which highlights which downhill resorts are taking big moves to be responsible and green.
Take all your litter home with you and, if you see litter, please pick it up and remove it.
Respect the natural habitat of mountain animals and plants by taking care not to damage vegetation, knock off branches or damage shoots when skiing. Many areas are out of bounds to protect the natural habitat of animals and plants – not just for safety reasons. And also, support the invaluable work of Mountain Wilderness by following and sharing their pioneering projects on social media/blogs and so on.
*Source: The Final Call: Investigating Who Really Pays for Our Holidays, by Leo Hickman (Eden Project Books)
More about Cross country skiing
The cross country skiing season is sometimes different from that of downhill, because it doesn’t rely on snow cannons and resort openings.
One of the aims of this cross country skiing holiday guide is to show people who love the mountains and wilderness in summer that they can also revel in them in winter.
If you want to find the best places to go cross country skiing, think downhill and then close that box of clichés and think again.
As well as taking in the back country beauties that envelop you, there are plenty of things to do on a cross country skiing holiday that are not only responsible but very rewarding.
Ski touring holidays differ from cross country in that they are more hard core.
Cross country skiing holidays in Austria are a true celebration of the outdoors and mountain culture.
Cross country skiing is something of a national pastime in Finland.
Cross country skiing holidays in Germany take you to that most magical of landscapes – the Black Forest.
What better way to get acquainted with a Norwegian winter than strapping on some skis and making your way across the frozen countryside – taking it slowly and eschewing faster-paced downhill shenanigans? Read on to find out the ins and outs and the dos and don’ts of cross country skiing holidays in Norway.
This 365 sq km region of mountainous terrain in northeastern Italy offers perfect fodder for winter sports, and all with a pretty spectacular backdrop, too.
From being safe on the mountains, what to pack to reminders on the importance of having an expert leader or guide, these cross country skiing holiday tips are invaluable.