Employee Focus

Working for a ski resort can be an extremely dangerous job and also extremely important to ensure the safety of both employees and skiers on the slopes. Employees for resorts are the first line of defense between the customers and the perils that can be found on the mountains. In this post I am going to analyze the dangers skiing can have and how keeping employees as the most important assets is key to running a successful resort.

Skiing is an awesome activity for all ages to enjoy and something the whole family can go out and do. It is also an action sport that comes with several very dangerous situations that can help be avoided by resorts investing in their employees. The first situation I will discuss is an avalanche, which we all know to be very deadly disasters that claim skier’s lives each year. They are easily the scariest and most deadly aspect of skiing, because they are essentially giant snow slides that engulf everything and everyone near it. Even the most prolific skiers are not safe from an avalanche, most notably is two U.S. Ski Team memUnknown-12bers were killed in an avalanche in the Austrian Alps just this past year, which has raised concerns about the safety of skiing. This article discusses the dangers of skiing and how these disasters have become a major concern in the ski community. They are often just unavoidable natural disasters, but many avalanches are man made per se and can be prevented through knowledgeable resort employees. Being aware and knowing the signs of what can cause an avalanche often times falls on the employees and is a major reason resorts that have high safety standards take such good care of their workers so they are always aware and alert to protect the individuals up on the slopes.

The next danger is collisions that happen everyday on the ski slopes. These are largely inevitable and just part of being a skier. What is important for ski resorts is to have fast response to these collisions to make sure the individuals involved do not suffer any further injuries from being left out on the mountain for too long.Fast response is the key to ensuring safety of riders so employees need to be on they toes in order to carry out their job. This requires a focused and aware person who truly cares about their job and the people they are watching over on the mountain.

Investing in employees is not the most important thing in many industries but is definitely the case in the ski and snowboarding industry. With the first major danger avalanches, employees need to know what to do when a disaster of the magnitude strikes and how to help prevent them for occurring. It is key to know the signs and when certain runs need to close to prevent accidental deaths on their mountains. The resorts that take care of their employees and give them the tools to protect both workers and customers do this not because they have too because we all know the dangers but because they care about everyone using their resort. Not all do but several of the industry leaders make a point to look for ways to make their resorts the safest they possibly can be and to always remember that everyone on the mountain has loved ones to go home too.



Help the Cause

Like I have written about earlier there are companies in the ski and snowboard industry who’s mission is to minimize there footprint as much as possible. Companies who make an effort day in and day out throughout the entire process of producing clothes, equipment, or running ski resorts to truly make their impacts on the environment as minimalistic as possible.

A company that you all know about because I wrote about them in my first post; Patagonia. Patagonia puts forth max effort throughout their entire company. Whether it is deciding how much lighting they are going to use in their stores, to tracking where the cotton comes from in their down jackets to make sure that it is coming from non-hormone fed, not live plucked chickens. It is absolutely astounding to see a company of this size put in the effort that Patagonia does to ensure that they really are doing their part in keeping our environment safe and clean.

Another company or resort that makes amazing efforts to minimize their footprint is Breckenridge ski resort. They work very hard to make sure that their snowblowers, chair lifts, and buildings are energy efficient. “Breckenridge achieved a 10.75% reduction in energy usage in 2012, and is targeting an additional 10% conservation by 2020.” Not only does Breckenridge make sure that all of their mechanical equipment are machines that efficiently use energy but they also put in work in other aspects of the resort such as their recycling, water consumption, and compost to effectively manage their footprint.

These two companies are both companies that put forth maximum effort in every aspect of their business to help combat all of the negative effects that are caused by the ski and snowboard industry. While it is a popular industry and obviously a world-wide sport with many positive outcomes, it is also hard on the environment. Many of the people that partake in these sports overlook the negative side effects. It is because of companies and resorts like Patagonia and Breckenridge Ski Resort who promote their environmental efforts and strive for efficiency that our negative environmental impact has slowed down and not exponentially increased. When companies and resorts of that size show that being environmentally friendly is the right thing to do it urges change in other companies in their field due to all of the positive feedback for not only the company but for the environment as well.breckenridge-winter1

Some great tips and tricks that can be used to make your footprint smaller if you work for a ski or snowboard company are as follows:

Use variable-frequency drives on any and all lifts possible. Those lifts use electricity more efficiently and will cause an overall decrease in total electricity use.

Make your buildings efficient, whether they are on the mountain or in stores that sell product. You can do this by using energy efficient lightbulbs, using timers and sensors so that lights are not on when they do not need to be, and you can use LED which reduce the overall light usage per year.

The above are all simple ways that Breckenridge has reduced their energy usage and because of that they have won over three energy conscious awards. To see more ways in which Breckenridge reduces their energy consumption or to get some ideas of what you can do click here.

Overall, if more companies and resorts take the initiative and put the effort in to preserve this beautiful world that we live in it can dramatically slow down all of the negative aspects that come with harming the environment in the ski and snowboard industry. Which in turn allows for everyone to keep enjoying these amazing sports for many many years to come. This is a widely popular sport that will be around until our environment no longer allows it. Some food for thought.

Mediums to Get Involved

Over the past couple of weeks, I have discussed several issues in the ski industry concerning CSR.  From explaining a sustainable model for resorts to providing additional ways for companies to promote CSR, a myriad of options have been presented.  In this post, I will talk about different organizations that encompass many in this industry across the board and how they benefit the industry in terms of CSR.


Mountain Riders Alliance

The Mountain Riders Alliance is a group of like-minded individuals who are dedicated to instigating change in the ski industry, supporting the environment and surrounding communities.  It is a global operation involving 50 contributing team members from 6 different countries.  They have 3 initiatives: the environment, the community, and the riders

Environment: The MRA aims to create sustainable mountain playgrounds for snow sport enthusiasts.  As discussed prior, they joined forces with the Brendle Group to create a model on the Mt. Abrams resort.  The idea is to have the resorts produce their own energy through solar, wind, micro-hydro, geothermal, and/or biomass.  They want to preserve as much natural land and harm as little as possible, exemplified by their commitment to plant 2 trees for every 1 destroyed.

Community:  While preserving the environment, the MRA also wants to support and maintain local economies and culture.  They promote partnerships with local businesses and no-profits.  It is important for them to work together with the surrounding community to make the necessary changes occur.

Riders: Additionally, the MRA wants to encourage the winter sports to be fun again, not just a business.  They want to keep the experience an affordable and accessible.  Any operational decisions are made with the rider’s best interest in mind.

Protect Our Winters

Protect Our Winters is an initiative by boarder Jeremy Jones in 2007 to inform the ski community about climate change and take action to help save the industry.  Their mission is “to engage and mobilize the snowsports community to lead the fight against climate change. Our focus is on educational initiatives, advocacy and community-based activism.”

Jeremy started the foundation when he noticed the extreme lack of snow at a lot of his favorite resorts and how the winters were getting shorter and shorter.  Other riders, resorts, and companies have come on board to support this social movement against climate change.  This initiative crosses political part lines due to the profound economic impact that climate change has, including 900,000+ jobs and $66 mil. in revenue.

POW also has a Rider’s Alliance, which operates in a similar manner to the MRA.  The ski community is driven by athletes, and they need to be the ones spearheading this campaign.  These athletes have met with over 50,00 high school students, written numerous articles for publications, and visited Washington to speak with lawmakers about the problem of climate change.

Ski Industry Organization

The Ski Industry Organization operates a website that is an open forum for all members of the ski community to share concepts and ideas globally.  It is separated into different departments in the industry where individuals can share knowledge.  The aim is to improve each department one at a time to improve the industry as a whole.  This site is very new, but has a ton of potential for sharing new ideas and knowledge concerning the environment.  If someone around the globe figures out a new way to help fight climate change or protect the natural lands that resorts sit on, its very easy to share that idea with like-minded individuals around the world.

This post was meant to provide information on various mediums to get involved with to help improve the CSR of the ski industry.  Each has its own mission and methods of operation, yet all can benefit the industry in some way regarding the surrounding environment.  It is important for all members associated with this community to be active so we can continue to enjoy the snow sports while protecting the natural earth.




Climate Change & The Ski Industry

In the wake of global warming, skiers and snowboarders have to ask- how will a warmer future be detrimental to the  winter sport industry? Resorts all over the U.S. are already feeling the pressures of increasing temperatures. Scientists believe the future for this industry looks bleak in the face of climate change. The warming trends could be devastating economically and threaten the industry’s stability. So what will the future of the ski industry look like with warming temperatures?

According to the New York Times, the Rockies have already begun facing spotty snow conditions and it’s estimated that the average winter temperatures “are expected to rise as much as 7 degrees by the end of the century”. Daniel Scott, the director of the Interdisciplinary Center on Climate Change at the University of Waterloo, addressed these issues in a recent study. He discusses how, under certain warming forecasts, “more than half of the 103 ski resorts in the Northeast will not be able to maintain a 100-day season by 2039”. These changing conditions will push back resort opening dates, shrink and restrict ski areas, and if conditions persist, certain ski areas will no longer be economically viable.

Between 2000 and 2010, the report said, the $10.7 billion ski and snowboarding industry, with centers in 38 states and employing 187,000 people directly or indirectly, lost $1.07 billion in revenue when comparing each state’s best snowfall years with its worst snowfall years.

The article also discusses water issues, stating that even in the Rockies, it’s become difficult to find enough water to make snow. Reservoirs are depleted, streams are low, and snowpack levels stand at “41 percent of their historical average”.


According to an article by Telegraph UK, many resorts were forced to close early this year due to lack of snow. In a study conducted in order to dissect some of the causes behind the industry’s recent struggles, it highlighted that the main reason for the lack of snow has not been lack of precipitation, but rather higher temperatures – making a strong case that global warming is to blame. There are also concerns surrounding the effects of El Nino. The El Nino effect is “associated with a band of warm ocean water that develops in the Pacific” and it’s implications? “Warmer and drier winters and reduced snowfall in the northwest, north midwest and north mideast of the US”. This all spells bad news for the industry.

Some resorts have turned to a process called “cloud seeding” to combat these effects. The process utilized generators that “pump silver iodide into ripe clouds when the wind conditions are right in order to wring out additional snow. Seeded clouds can yield a 5-15 percent increase in precipitation”. How else can these climate change conditions be minimized? According to Vice News, even if the industry cuts its “carbon footprint to zero, you still suffer from climate change,” and that “It’s really difficult for the industry to step out of their business box and start becoming activists.”

A non-profit group called Mountain Pact is working to encourage mountain towns to unite politically and protect winter and the preserve the longevity of the industry. The Pact aims to lobby for the kind environmental policies that will help the high country adapt to climate change. The Mountain Pact and its partners are “focusing on three objectives: adaptation, mitigation, and federal prioritization”.

So what does this mean for the future of winter sports? According to Outside Online, one of the biggest challenges in addressing climate change is that it’s intangible and wide-ranging. It’s often hard to convince communities to finance projects that don’t pay immediate dividends or generate easily measurable returns on investment. However, groups like Mountain Pact and its partners are taking steps in the right direction and hopefully their impacts will help mitigate the effects of climate change and protect winter for skiers now and for the generations to come.


One Resort at a Time

Every year around this time in early November, the ski season kicks off starting several months of hitting the slopes for enthusiasts. Riders will begin to flock to mountain towns in droves and will not stop until around March when the snow has melted and the season ends. Ski resorts only have this time open and for the most part the remainder of the year goes into preparing for the next season. In this time many resorts search for ways they can help support the community with the large economic pull their businesses can have.

Charity Events

A lot of resorts have come up with ways they can help the communities that surround them. Charity events that go to the sole benefit of helping non-profits, funding organizations that help underprivileged families, and actually going out into the community and lending a hand to those who need it are just some of the ways resorts focus the power they have in the towns to make them better. In this post I want to look at a few resorts that have made it an emphasis to be a proactive member of the community and be there for its neighbors.

Mt. Bachelor

Mt.Bachelor Resort
Mt.Bachelor Resort

The first resort I want to discuss is Mt. Bachelor in Bend Oregon. For many years they have made it part of their mission to support the Bend community. On their website they have a community page where all of the activities they are a part of running themselves can be found. In the area they have held several charity events and donated money to helping kids in Bend and other non-profits. Every year the throw a Charity Ski Week where people are encouraged to go out and build relationships with the rest of the town, and by outing the event on they have been able to raise nearly half a million dollars for these organizations. Along with the Ski Week, Mt. Bachelor holds many other events in support of the community. The most significant of these has to be the Ski for Schools event held each year. It’s a week long event where all daily ski passes are discounted to $25 giving the money that has been discounted to helping fund the elementary and middle schools in Bend. Mt. Bachelor does not need to do all of these events and fundraising but they have become a part of the community and do it because they know it is right to support the community that supports their business.


Aspen Mountain Resort
Aspen Mountain Resort

The next ski mountain is the Aspen resort in Colorado. Aspen is one of the largest resorts in the world and encompasses four different mountains in the Rockies. Being so large it can be easy to be disconnected from the people who live in the towns their mountains surround. Aspen however has not forgotten them and had done extensive work to raise support and money for the community. On their community page on the Aspen website allows people to explore the vast work they do. The resort has done its best to work with non-profits and community activists and have raised over $3,000,000 that goes directly to the community, specifically the education system. It has become a top priority for Aspen and their initiatives have gone a long way influencing their communities and other resorts to do their part for the towns.

Both of these resorts have recognized that they have the power to make a difference. Each in their own way has found avenues to improving their communities and the people that support the resorts each year. It is important for others to look at the example Aspen and Mt. Bachelor have set and strive to be more like them. Here I have shown the major impact that can be made and how important it is to emulate this behavior.

Saving the Resorts: Getting Involved to Combat Climate Change

The ski industry has made long strides in the recent past to help combat the devastating effects it has on the environment.  We have gone over many of these on our website, as they are applied to the specific resorts we covered.  However, there are a couple of other options out there that can not only help the resorts limit their environmental impacts, but also influence the customers to make a difference.  First of all, it is important to realize the affects that climate change is having and will continue to have on the resorts that we all know and love.  The key to influencing change in the industry is showing how potentially devastating the current situation is.

Main Issue

Even early in the ski season, many mountain-goers are noticing the lack of snowfall and warm temperatures that are resulting in brown patches along their favorite resort runs.  Ski resorts from New England to the Rockies, especially ones in lower elevations, may be unsalvageable sooner rather than later.  They are struggling to maintain their season as well as meet bottom lines in term of profits.  The industry was one of the early-adapters in noting climate change over 30 years ago, and it is time to really push the movement in order to preserve the resorts.

The statistics are alarming when considering the losses this industry has taken over the past 10 years.  More than a billion dollar in revenue were lost during this time, in addition to 27,000 jobs,  according to a report by the National Defense Council.  By 2039, only half of the Northeast’s resorts will be able to have a long enough ski season to be economically viable.  Artificial snow creation is often too expensive in the long term and uses a lot of water inefficiently.  What are a couple of ways we can make an effort against this potential disaster?


The TUI Group is a multinational tourism Company located in Germany.  They had the very cool idea of offering a special opportunity to those taking a vacation at ski resorts.  These customers could purchase a tree (and receive a map of where it was planted) to help reduce carbon emissions.  However, only 1 in 20 responded to the offer despite a full age ad in the holiday brochure, an alarmingly low rate.  While not effective for TUI, this is an initiative that could have great positive effects for resorts in America.  By offering a the same opportunity, or something innately similar, there would be several positive results.  Not only does the act of planting a tree literally help remove carbon dioxide from the air, but also gives the customer a sense of satisfaction and connection with the tree.  This will only spur the consumers to spread word about the program and what it stands for, hopefully convincing more and more people to come and board with their support.


A slightly stronger and more direct position to take is one that Aspen Skiing Company did.  They decided to take a stand against companies who engaged in environmental malpractice.  Kimberly Clark tissue product was a major supplier for Aspen, yet due to environmental concerns with how the business was operating, Aspen cut off business with Kimberly Clark.  This is a risky move for Aspen, yet they took a stand, valuing ethical standards over what was easiest for the company.  By doing this, they have set an example for other companies to follow.  If a large and respected company such as Aspen is willing to make such a decision, then other companies may follow suit.

Hopefully, this post has open your eyes to how the environment, and specifically climate change, is affected by the ski industry.  The options presented are meant to show examples of how companies have acted, and provide examples for other companies to follow.  The environment is really in some trouble at this moment in time, and it is imperative for all those associated with the ski industry to do what they can to limit these effects.

Becoming a Greener Skier

Do you enjoy skiing or snowboarding? Do you adore the pristine snowcapped mountain scenery? Do you want to be part of the effort to preserve these precious landscapes and protect the longevity of this pastime? Then this post is for you. This post is going to delve into some practices that you as a winter sport enthusiast can take up to help tackle some of the environmental challenges associated with this industry.

In the article “Think All You Leave is Tracks on the Snow?“, Responsible Travel discusses seven tips skiers and boarders can implement for more sustainable skiing. The tips are as follows:

  1. Travel by train– When possible, adopting this mode of transportation can significantly reduce carbon emissions. The article states that this is particularly important and is something skiers should keep their eyes on because “every one degree increase in temperature would result in the closure of 100 Alpine slopes”!
  2. Visit resorts that are part of the National Ski Area Association Sustainable Slope Environmental CharterThese resorts have environmentally ethical practices. Alternatively, you can check other resorts “environmental score cards” by visiting here.
  3. Ask your tour operators and resorts management for their responsible tourism policy- If they haven’t got one, they probably aren’t taking their environmental responsibility seriously.
  4. Consider ski touring, cross country skiing or snow shoeingThese snowy activities are less dependent on graded slopes and ski lifts and create less environmental impacts and can be just as fun.
  5. Take all your litter home with you-Don’t chuck it off the lift, and if you see litter just swoop down and pick it up! Help keep the slopes clean for everyone to enjoy.
  6. Stay in locally owned accommodation-Renting out a condo or cabin instead of staying in a resort chalet. Unless they can convince you that they provide significant local employment, use local services and produce, and that the accommodation has been built to high environmental standards. Also eat at local restaurants and use ski guides from the local community where possible!
  7. Respect the natural habitat of mountain animals and plants-Be conscious of where you are skiing and don’t deliberately damage the vegetation. 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. 

Another great resource to utilize is “Mountain Riders“, a french non-profit organization that works inform and raise awareness on environmental issues and to promote sustainable development in the mountains. They produce annual reports on eco-friendliness from an evaluation criteria based on transport, energy, buildings, water, waste, land and social awareness, which is used to establish how green the resort is.

One can also combat their contribution to negative environmental impacts by selecting greener resort options. Many resorts have become increasingly efficient and clean since they no longer run on diesel and the electricity and now rely on renewable sources. Many resorts in Europe derive nearly all their power from hydroelectricity and, in America, Vail Resorts became one of the world’s largest corporate users of renewable energy when it switched its five resorts and offices to use wind power!

Another cool way to be a greener snow enthusiast is by decking out in green gear like solar-paneled ski suits and bamboo boards. Make an effort to support companies like these that are making a genuine effort to be sustainable. Independent companies like Colorado’s Venture Snowboards, which has converted its entire operation to run on wind power, sometimes have the greatest freedom to put green principle into practice.

All of these are wonderful, viable options for reducing your impact on the mountain. Implementing all, or even just a few, is a great step towards a better environment and a cleaner, greener future!