December 16, 2022 | ACTIVE LIFE | By Dylan Carey | Photo by Katherine Beard

The ski season is officially underway as most major ski resorts have at least half of their terrain open. Skiing is an incredibly popular activity at Colorado College, but unfortunately, the industry as a whole is threatened by climate change. By the year 2100, numerous ski resorts are expected to have significantly fewer days in a year with freezing temperatures.

Without freezing temperatures, several ski resorts might not receive enough snow for adequate skiing. The graphic shows the projected reduction in days below freezing for several popular ski resorts in the Western United States.

Clearly, the future of the ski industry is jeopardized by climate change. However, several ski resorts have implemented new sustainability initiatives in an attempt to fight a warming planet and prolong their existence.

Taos Ski Valley is a leader in the ski industry when it comes to sustainability initiatives. Taos is the only ski resort in the world to achieve a B-Corp certification. B-Corp certifications recognize businesses for their environmental and social impact. According to the B-Corp website, the certification is awarded to businesses that achieve “high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on factors from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practices and input materials.”

Taos’ sustainability efforts include forest restoration, food waste diversion, and using 100 percent renewable daytime solar power. In 2021, Taos treated 245 acres of forest in its forest restoration initiative and diverted 10,287 pounds of waste into compost (a reduction of approximately 3.2 megatons of CO2). Additionally, the resort uses solar energy to power ski lifts and snow making machines. Overall, the resort lives up to its “ski the change” motto which emphasizes social impact.

Other ski resorts that stand out in their sustainability efforts are Colorado’s Aspen Snowmass, Copper, and Eldora. Aspen is involved in lobbying efforts to encourage action from the federal government to fight climate change. Furthermore, Aspen has installed solar panels on chairlifts, built electric vehicle charging stations, and achieved a 14 percent reduction in electricity consumption.

Meanwhile, Copper and Eldora are both a part of the POWDR Play Forever movement, which is an effort to protect the environment and support the ski resort community. Copper also planted 50,000 trees and was a founder of the National Ski Area Association’s (NSAA) Climate Challenge in 2012. Eldora sources roughly a quarter of its energy from renewable sources and has saved 1,264 gallons of fuel by using electric shuttle buses.

Students at Colorado College also show their commitment to increasing access to skiing and decreasing the associated carbon emissions through the Freerider’s Union of CC bus program. FUCC is the student organization responsible for the creation of the FUCC bus. The FUCC bus operates almost every weekend of the ski season and alternates between shuttling students to resorts on the Ikon and Epic ski passes.

In order to ride the bus, students must sign up on Summit, pay the $5 fee, and be prepared to depart on the bus at 6:30 in the morning. The FUCC bus provides a significantly cheaper and more environmentally friendly option for ski transportation. More information about the FUCC bus or the Freerider’s Union can be found on the organization’s Instagram page @cc_freeride. I hope students enjoy the ski season but also consider the ways they can support the ski industry in the fight against climate change.

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