It’s been a topsy-turvy year all around, but even more so for the handful of ski resorts in the Alps that have been closed all winter but plan to open within the next few weeks for a brief, but hopefully lucrative, summer ski season.
The European ski countries all handled Covid and skiing remarkably differently, with Switzerland keeping the majority of its resorts open while neighboring France shut theirs down (and was sued by the resorts for arbitrary closures not based on science). Italy also had very limited skiing, while Austria’s resorts operated close to normal, though with visitation mostly from the local communities.
Related: A Tale of Two Switzerlands
Ski resorts in France were ordered to shut down when another wave of pandemic rolled through in November, and while operators hoped the lifts would start running at some point throughout the season, it didn’t come to pass. But the impending easing of restrictions in France on May 2 and Austria on May 19 make it possible for a select few high-elevation resorts to reopen for summer skiing.
Skiers will be able to hit the slopes of Tignes and Val d’Isere, among others, starting in mid-June, and the resorts hope to stay open through early August. Les 2 Alpes moved its target opening date up a week, from early June to the end of May.
In Austria, many of the high-alpine glaciers didn’t open for the season, but will get a summer ski season instead. Kaunertal Glacier, in Tyrol, just announced it will start spinning its lifts on May 15. The Molltol Glacier also plans to reopen in May and stay open through the summer, conditions (both health and snow) permitting. And the Pitztal and Kitzsteinhorn glaciers are extending their seasons through June.
Americans still can’t travel to many of Europe’s ski countries—though there are currently plans in the works to allow vaccinated travelers this summer—but we’re stoked that more P-Tex will be sliding on snow over there, and are optimistic for a return to the Alps next winter.