by Mikaela Ruland
Skis or board in hand, breath billowing in the cold morning air, you may notice something a little different as the shuttle pulls up to pick you up in the Alpine parking lots this year. Instead of the vehicles we affectionately referred to as “cattle cars,” you’ll likely get picked up in a sleek new Cobus.
These new buses are more modern, fit more people and lend themselves to easier loading and unloading, but those aren’t the main reasons Copper Mountain made the switch. The new Cobus Fleet is helping Copper towards it’s environmental sustainability goals. The new buses get nearly nine miles to the gallon, whereas the old ones got fewer than two. The buses’ engines can easily be shut off, allowing for minimal exhaust and, best yet, the higher carrying capacity allows for just two buses to run the routes, instead of three.
Environmental sustainability is an important path for ski areas around the world. As temperatures rise and weather patterns change, the basis of our favorite sport is disappearing: snow.
The ski and snowboard industry all over the world is feeling the effects of climate change. In the Alps, the season has shortened by 38 days since 1960. The snowline (the line at which it becomes cold enough for snow to stick) is steadily increasing – some predictions have it as high as 10,000 ft by the end of this century. One study even suggests that average temperatures rising even a few more degrees may be the ruin of resorts all across the Alps.
In 2017, a study was released showing what the effects of climate change will look like on the winter outdoor industry. Running multiple climate models, the study projected what end-of-the-century skiing would look like in two different worlds. One, a world where greenhouse gasses are left unchecked and climate change continues at its current rate through the 21st century, and another in which carbon emissions peak by 2040 and then begin to decline, the standard adopted by the International Panel on Climate Change. In the first model, the study predicted that in the United States, 90% of ski areas would not be able to open before Christmas Day, which would put the majority of resorts out of business - that’s not the future of skiing I want to see.
In the second model, the world has taken a global and aggressive stance on fighting climate change. The model still predicts a shorter ski season, but the outdoor industry is not so severely impacted as in the first model. The industry would likely be able to adapt and ticket sales would actually increase from where they are today.
We have a choice of where we ski or board. I choose to ski at Copper Mountain for many reasons, but a big one is their commitment to environmental sustainability and the future of our favorite sports. They have been a part of the NSAA’s Climate Challenge for many years, with reporting showing impressive strides in using solar and wind power, increasing efficiencies and conservation efforts. The Cobus Fleet is just the most recent step that they have taken in making the world a better place to shred in.