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The dismantling of closed ski areas is an uphill battle in the Swiss Alps – Health and Lifestyle News – Report by AFR

In a remote, secluded valley in the Swiss Alps, a row of rusting ski lift pylons scars the grassy hillside where cows graze lazily.

Lifts at the once-busy Super Saint Bernard ski resort in the southern Swiss canton of Valais near the Italian border closed in 2010.

Since the local company that ran the small station collapsed, the infrastructure and facilities have remained a crumbling blemish on the alpine landscape.

“Honestly, I’d love to see them destroy it, raze it to the ground,” the resort’s former director, Claude Lattion, confirmed to AFP.

“You come in from Italy over the Great St. Bernard Pass and you see that,” he said, nodding toward the graffiti-covered ruins and broken glass that once housed the restaurant and ski-lift departure station.

With its spectacular mountain landscapes and untouched slopes, Switzerland attracts winter sports fans and tourists from all over the world.

But in recent years the lack of snow, and especially the lack of money, has meant that many of the smaller, local stations have struggled to keep their ski lifts running.

According to the Federal Office of Transport, at least 14 of 2433 are currently out of service.

– ‘eyesore’ –

Swiss law requires resort owners to bear the cost of dismantling abandoned ski lifts.

But the situation is more complicated when resorts file for bankruptcy, as Super Saint Bernard did.

Discussions about whether a buyer can be found or whether regional or local authorities should bear the costs can drag on for years.

In the small neighboring village of Bourg-Saint-Pierre, Mayor Gilbert Tornare said several solutions had been explored “to get rid of this eyesore”.

But the cost is too high for the community of just 200 residents, he said.

In all, up to two million Swiss francs (US$2.1 million) will be needed to dismantle the station, remove the ski lift poles and decontaminate a site that extends to an elevation of 2,800 meters (9,200 feet).

The canton of Valais, meanwhile, has proposed using conscripts for the job to limit costs.

The case illustrates the chronic difficulties faced by smaller ski resorts across Switzerland.

For resorts with fewer than 100,000 skiers a year, it is “difficult to make a profit,” Swiss tourism expert Laurent Vanat told AFP.

Super Saint Bernard, which only had around 20 kilometers of slopes and was hampered by its remote location far from the nearest village, only attracted about 20,000 skiers per season before it closed.

– New use? –

While there is usually a lot of snow at the Altitude Station, other small resorts have been hit by the effects of climate change, which has made white gold scarce.

Watching his two dogs sniff around in the rubble of the business he once ran, Lattion said he would have liked to see Super Saint Bernard “repurposed”.

A young local entrepreneur wants to do just that and has proposed building a hotel accessible by a small cable car.

Two ungroomed slopes could be used in winter, while many trails are available for summer hikes, offering a gentler approach to mountain tourism than that pursued by the big resorts.

But her plan has stalled for five years as a controversial wind farm plan blocks all public funding for new ski projects in the region.

The conversion of a ski station, admitted Lattion, was “not really in the spirit of the times”.

#dismantling #closed #ski #areas #uphill #battle #Swiss #Alps

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