By Cailey Rizzo
Updated February 20, 2020

France’s environment minister is holding a crisis meeting over the unconventional ways some resorts in the Alps and Pyrenees are powdering their slopes due to the lack of snow.

Several ski resorts have started flying in snow from elsewhere via helicopter, angering french officials who prioritize working against climate change.

"Snowing ski resorts by helicopter is not possible," environmental minister Elisabeth Borne said on Sunday, according to The Local France. "We can not have stations that are victims of climate change, that have no more snow and, at the same time, contribute to aggravating climate change."

The mission to airlift snow from elsewhere takes hours and hundreds of liters of water and fuel to complete. However one resort says it's using resources sparingly.

"We're not going to cover the whole resort in snow,” said Hervé Pouanu, the director of the local council in France's southwest of the artificial snow at Luchon-Superbagnères ski resort in the Pyrenees. “Otherwise, we would have to close a large part of the area...as our beginner slopes and ski schools are at their busiest during the holidays."

He claims that the move — which costs an estimated €5,000 to €6,000 — also helped keep 50 to 80 staff members employed through the busy season.

Two men help a helicopter carrying snow in order to place it on a ski slope in the Superbagneres station, near Luchon, in French Pyrenees mountain southwestern France.
Getty Images

Resorts often have artificial snow machines to top off their slopes when powder is running low. But these machines don’t work at higher temperatures. When the lack of snowfall is not solely due to a lack of precipitation but high temperatures, the artificial machines are a waste.

Representatives from ski resorts will meet in Paris with Borne to discuss more environmentally-friendly ways of bringing their attractions into an unusually warm winter and how resorts can adapt to climate change.

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