Summer skiing on the Stelvio Glacier gets the green light.

Summer skiing on the Stelvio Glacier gets the green light.
Photo by jean wimmerlin / Unsplash

It's not outdated, and attention preserves the snow - the healthiest glacier compared to many others.

For decades, the Stelvio Glacier has been the only mountain offering summer skiing on its slopes. This activity has become increasingly challenging due to the climate crisis. Umberto Capitani, the director of Sifas, the company that manages the ski lifts on the Stelvio Glacier, says, "This winter hasn't been very snowy, and we hope for a late-season snowfall with lower temperatures." Despite these challenges, the official opening date has been set for June 1st.

"We are like farmers, except instead of cultivating the land, we help the snow," continues Capitani. "Of course, we don't have the heavy snowfall that we used to have in the 50s, 60s, or 70s, and we have to take care of the little snowfall we get during the winter. But we have snowmaking systems, protective covers, and water reserves."

According to the measurements by Arpa Lombardia after last summer's season, the glacier is currently about three meters thinner. The mountains are also suffering from drought, increasingly dry seasons, and higher temperatures. Is summer skiing outdated?

"The data is clear," says Capitani. "There has been a decline in snowfall, but there is nothing outdated about this activity. There is a niche market that seeks our ski slopes. People and ski clubs need snow on the glacier, and there is a real demand from certain customer segments. If we don't offer this possibility, then someone else will, like ski resorts in South America or Oceania. And flying there may be less environmentally friendly than reaching the Stelvio."

In short, the Stelvio Glacier wants to persevere. "The water used for snowmaking is part of the natural cycle, so we reduce water waste," highlights Capitani. "Moreover, we have compared our glacier with non-impacted glaciers, and our management is better. The grooming of the slopes, for example, removes the layer of sand and pebbles carried by the wind. The surface is smoother, and the ice is less affected by solar radiation because it's cleaner. This way, we can save 10/15 centimetres of snow compared to glaciers left untouched."

Uncertainties remain, and reflections are needed, but for now, there are no visible alternatives. "We don't take these difficulties lightly, but we have experienced the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns on ski resorts. Some argue that we should close but without an alternative plan. Today, despite the obstacles, the opening generates benefits for the community. Behind the Stelvio Glacier, there are between 700 and 900 direct and indirect jobs with a tangible impact on the local territories," concludes Capitani.

The Stelvio Glacier is determined to continue offering summer skiing despite the challenges posed by the climate crisis. While the decline in snowfall and other environmental impacts are acknowledged, the Stelvio Glacier remains an important destination for a niche market of skiers and provides much-needed employment opportunities for the local community. Efforts are being made to preserve the glacier through snowmaking systems and grooming techniques. However, ongoing reflections and planning for the future are necessary to address the uncertainties and challenges ahead.

If you're considering a summer skiing adventure, the Stelvio Pass in Italy is a unique and exciting destination. With its stunning alpine scenery and the opportunity to ski on a glacier, the Stelvio Pass offers a thrilling experience for ski enthusiasts. Here are some tips for skiing in the Stelvio:

  1. Plan your trip during the right season: The Stelvio Pass offers summer skiing on the glacier, typically from early June to early November, depending on weather conditions. Make sure to check the opening dates and availability before planning your trip.
  2. Be prepared for changing weather conditions: Weather in the mountains can be unpredictable, even during the summer months. Bring layers of clothing that can be easily adjusted, including waterproof gear, as rain or snow can occur unexpectedly. Don't forget to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun's rays at higher altitudes.
  3. Check the ski conditions: Before hitting the slopes, check the ski conditions and slope status. As the glacier is subject to natural melting and freezing processes, the ski conditions can vary from day to day. Stay updated with the latest information from the local ski resort or mountain guides.
  4. Hire a guide: If you're not an experienced skier or unfamiliar with the terrain, it's recommended to hire a local guide. A guide can help you navigate the glacier safely and ensure you make the most of your skiing experience.
  5. Follow safety guidelines: Safety should be a top priority when skiing in any environment. Follow all safety guidelines provided by the ski resort or mountain guides, including staying on marked slopes, skiing within your ability level, and wearing appropriate safety gear.
  6. Respect the environment: The Stelvio Pass is a protected natural area, and it's important to respect the environment. Avoid littering, stay on designated trails, and follow all rules and regulations of the area. Help preserve the beauty of the glacier for future generations to enjoy.
  7. Stay hydrated and acclimatize: Skiing at high altitudes can be physically demanding, so it's important to stay hydrated and acclimatize to the altitude. Drink plenty of water and take breaks as needed to avoid altitude sickness and fatigue.
  8. Enjoy the unique experience: Skiing on a glacier in the summertime is a unique experience that not many people get to enjoy. Take the time to appreciate the breathtaking scenery, the thrill of skiing on a glacier, and the opportunity to be part of a special skiing community.

Skiing on the Stelvio Pass glacier can be an unforgettable adventure. By planning ahead, following safety guidelines, and respecting the environment, you can have a fantastic skiing experience in this remarkable location. So, get ready to hit the slopes and make memories that will last a lifetime!

The Stelvio Pass, located in the Italian Alps, is not only a popular destination for skiing but also boasts some interesting facts:

  1. Highest paved mountain pass in the Eastern Alps: The Stelvio Pass, at an elevation of 2,757 meters (9,045 feet), is the highest paved mountain pass in the Eastern Alps, making it a renowned destination for cyclists, motorcyclists, and drivers seeking an exhilarating driving experience.
  2. Iconic hairpin turns: The road leading to the Stelvio Pass is famous for its 48 hairpin turns, known as "tornanti" in Italian, which wind their way up and down the mountain. This tight, switchback turns to add to the thrill and challenge of driving or cycling on this iconic pass.
  3. Historic Significance: The Stelvio Pass has a rich history, dating back to the Roman era, and has been used for transportation and trade routes for centuries. It has also been featured in various motorsports events and served as a strategic military route during World War I.
  4. Stunning natural beauty: The Stelvio Pass is located in the Stelvio National Park, a protected area known for its breathtaking alpine scenery, including rugged mountains, glaciers, and pristine forests. The stunning natural beauty of the area makes the Stelvio Pass a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.
  5. Popular filming location: The Stelvio Pass has been featured in numerous movies, TV shows, and commercials for its picturesque scenery and challenging road. Some notable films that have included scenes shot at the Stelvio Pass include James Bond's "Quantum of Solace" and "The Italian Job."
  6. Tourist attraction: Apart from skiing and driving, the Stelvio Pass is a popular tourist attraction, drawing visitors from around the world who come to experience the awe-inspiring mountain landscape and take in the panoramic views from the pass's highest point.
  7. Cultural significance: The Stelvio Pass has also become a cultural symbol, representing the beauty and allure of the Italian Alps. It has been featured in literature, art, and music, and has become an iconic landmark of the region.

These are just a few fun facts about the Stelvio Pass, a unique and captivating destination known for its natural beauty, thrilling roads, and historic significance. Whether you're an adventure seeker, a nature lover, or simply looking to experience an iconic mountain pass, the Stelvio Pass has something to offer.

Here's a table with information about ski summer options at Stelvio Pass, including the address, website link, and approximate price for each option:

Ski Summer Option Address Website Link Price (Approximate)
Stelvio Glacier Ski Area Passo dello Stelvio, 23032 Bormio SO, Italy €40-€45 per day
Snowpark Stelvio Passo dello Stelvio, 23032 Bormio SO, Italy €35-€40 per day
Stelvio Ski Racing Camp Passo dello Stelvio, 23032 Bormio SO, Italy €500-€700 per week
Bormio Ski Via Battaglion Morbegno, 34, 23032 Bormio SO, Italy €30-€40 per day
Bormio Bike Park Via Funivie, 1, 23032 Bormio SO, Italy €35-€40 per day
Please note that prices may vary and it's always best to check the official websites for up-to-date information on ski summer options at Stelvio Pass, including opening hours, available activities, and any additional fees.