The Future of Skiing in the US

February 17, 2018

Here at GMC we rely heavily on snowy winters so that we can spend them on the slopes. However, that might not be possible at all in a few years or so, and it’s all due to climate.

Research published from the University of Waterloo found that only EIGHT of 21 previous winter Olympics hosts would be able to do so again without urgent action to address climate change. Average temperatures during the Winter Olympics were ranging up from around 33° Fahrenheit before the 1960s to 46° Fahrenheit this century, according to the study. Over the last century, the average surface temperature of the planet has risen an entire 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit, which is two-thirds of that happening since 1975. According to Justin Worland from TIME, the winter of 2011-2012 was the fourth warmest winter in recorded history, and each of these last three decades have been warmer than the decade before it. While 1.4 degrees is hardly impactful towards human skin, it has massive consequences in how our planet works.

About a million square miles of spring snow-cover in the Northern Hemisphere has disappeared in the last 45 years- including 20 percent of the spring snowpack in the Rockies and 35 percent in the Cascades. The study also suggested that by 2050, winter temperatures could warm by nearly 5.4 degrees, and the Cascades could lose another 40 to 70 percent of their snowpack.

Not only is this incredibly impactful on our planet, it will seriously hurt the economic standing of hundreds of ski towns and their people that rely on heavy winters; without which hundreds of these people will lose their positions as climate warming continues rapidly. According to scientist Heather Hansman, as New England confronts sidewalk avalanches and digs itself out from underneath a blizzard, West Coast skiers are dealing with the opposite problem; Squaw Valley, which averaged 450 inches of snowfall per year between 2008 and 2014, has received less than a THIRD of that amount this season, according to a February snow report. The snowpack situation here is so dire there that the International Ski Federation canceled the skicross and snowboardcross World Cup two weeks before it was scheduled to launch, in early March.

79 year old Bud Valian was a previous owner of Valian's Ski Shop in Government Camp, Oregon (perched on the southwestern slope of Mount Hood). He learned to ski in British Columbia in 1947 on wooden boards with wire coat hangers holding the toe of his boots in place. After becoming an extremely accomplished racer, he moved to Mount Hood to teach skiing in 1954, 16 years after F.D.R.'s Works Progress Administration completed the Timberline Lodge, transforming Hood into one of the hippest and most popular winter resorts in the Northwest. He remembers that there weren't any stop signs or street lights in town and that there were more restaurants and businesses. He also remembers there was a lot more snow. "The one thing I do know," he said, "is that the average elevation of the snowline is 1,200 to 1,400 feet higher now than it was back then. It is difficult to gaze at the heap of ice and rock that is Mount Hood and conclude that the mountain is in need of a good blizzard. The 11,239-foot peak looks like a scoop of ice cream melting into the deep green forest of northwestern Oregon.”

These mountains where skiers, snowboarders and other athletes can enjoy their winter activities are on a steep decline. Many ski resorts in the U.S. are expected to see the lengths of their seasons cut in half by 2050, and more than 80% by 2090, according to research published last year in the journal of Global Environmental Change.


Hansman, Heather. “How Ski Resorts Are Fighting Climate Change.” Outside Online, 16 Nov. 2016,

Worland, Justin. “Winter Olympics Will Be Harder Due to Climate Change.” Time, Time,



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