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Sustainability in the ski lift carousel Behind the Scenes

Over the last decades Winterberg has developed into a hotspot for winter sports fans from near and far. This is unmistakable. No sooner are the temperatures low enough to make snow than tourism is booming. In the evening you can see snow guns purring on the slopes, during the day the slopes are packed with snow.

At first glance, it may seem as if winter sports has little to do with sustainability - but at second glance it does! After all, skiing is not only a nature sport, but also a special nature experience. That's why we use various means in the ski lift carousel to make careful use of our resources and protect the special cultural landscape around Winterberg. Whether summer or winter, environmental protection plays a central role in the Winterberg ski lift carousel - but often takes place behind the scenes.

Winter sports and sustainability?

Did you know that our snow guns are powered by renewable energy? And that they use water, but at the end of the winter it is returned to the natural water cycle by the snowmelt? Winter sports and sustainability do not have to be contradictory. Short travel distances, for example from the region or the conurbations on the Rhine, Main and Ruhr, make a visit to the ski lift carousel a far more sustainable holiday than a flight or skiing holiday in the Alps. A lot is happening behind the scenes to make the winter pleasure of the ski lift carousel as sustainable as possible.

Species-rich mountain meadows in summer

Where in winter the snow lies on the slopes, in summer a very special blossom blooms. On the slopes of the ski lift carousel, a large number of plants that are on the Red List of endangered plants in NRW feel particularly at home, such as forest hyacinths and species of Waldorchid - and these must be protected.

In order to preserve this special diversity, the ski slopes are managed extensively - i.e. in a particularly gentle manner - by the lift operators. This means, among other things, that the first mowing is not allowed until late in the summer, also in order not to endanger ground-nesting birds.

In addition to the protection of the mountain meadows, roofs in the ski lift carousel were greened in order to compensate for the loss of space and to use the roof area in a sustainable way.

Übrigens, schon gewusst?

Ein Hin- und Rückflug von 200 Personen in die Karibik verbraucht so viel Energie wie die Grundbeschneiung von 65 km Piste.

Ein Bundesliga-Spieltag mit 390.000 Fans verbraucht 12 Gigawattstunden, 65 km beschneite Pisten für 600.000 Gäste verbrauchen pro Saison 3 Gigawattstunden.

Die 6 Speicherteiche des Skiliftkarussells umfassen insgesamt 190.000 Kubikmeter Wasser, das zum größten Teil aus Bachläufen stammt. Nur eine geringe Menge an Trinkwasser wird verbraucht.

Um die Schneekanonen mit nachhaltiger Energie zu versorgen, wurde an der Remmeswiese eine Photovoltaikanlage errichtet.

Beim Flutlichtfahren hilft energiesparende und langlebige LED-Technik Energie zu sparen.

Die meist kurzen Anfahrtswege der Touristen sorgen für eine bessere Energiebilanz als beispielsweise Flüge nach Mallorca. 

Die neuen Pistenwalzen des Skiliftkarussells erkennen zentimetergenaue wie viel Schnee sich unter und vor der Walze befindet. So wissen wir genau, wie viel Schnee produziert werden muss. Das macht die Beschneiung gezielter und effizienter.

Bei der Beschneiung geht kein Wasser verloren, da es nach der Schneeschmelze zurück in den natürlichen Kreislauf gelangt. Zum Vergleich: Bei der Herstellung eines Glases Wein werden 120 Liter Wasser verbraucht, die nicht zurück in den Kreislauf gelangen.

Um in Zukunft stärker auf regenerative Energie zu setzen, werden im Skiliftkarussell Dachflächen mit Photovoltaikanlagen bestückt und Energierückgewinnungsanlagen bei den Liftantrieben installiert.

Want some facts?

  1. The snowmaking of the slopes ensures that winter tourism can be planned and is safe. The certainty that guests will come to Winterberg is of benefit to a wide range of industries, from hotels to supermarkets.
  2. In the 90s there were about 50 skiing days per season. Thanks to snow-making, the season has now been extended to up to 100 days, which benefits all industries that benefit from tourism.

And last but not least:
Winter sports are healthy. In one winter season we manage to get as many people out in the fresh air as hardly any other sport can.

  1. 56 % of the plant species in the ski area are on the NRW Red List and are particularly worthy of protection.
  2. Since the mountain meadows are used as ski slopes, they are kept free of forest and shrub vegetation. This preserves the splendour of plants and flowers that would otherwise disappear under bushes and spruces.
  3. The extensive management of the ski slopes ensures a particularly large species richness of partially threatened plants.
  4. With extensive cultivation, the first cut is made late and no fertiliser is used.
  5. In 2018, heather from the Kahler Asten was planted on the Käppchenhang to create a heath landscape.
  6. The dense artificial snow cover in winter provides special protection for the species-rich mountain meadows.
  7. Devil's claw and soft-haired Pippau - these are just two of the rare plants found in the mountain meadows around Winterberg.
  1. A return flight of 200 people to the Caribbean consumes as much energy as the basic snowmaking of 65 km of runway.
  2. A Bundesliga match day with 390,000 fans consumes 12 gigawatt hours, 65 km of snow-covered slopes for 600,000 guests consume 3 gigawatt hours per season.
  3. The 6 storage ponds of the ski lift carousel contain a total of 190,000 cubic metres of water, most of which comes from streams. Only a small amount of drinking water is consumed.
  4. In order to supply the snow cannons with sustainable energy, a photovoltaic system was installed on the Remmeswiese.
  5. No water is lost during the snowmaking process, as it is returned to the natural cycle after the snow has melted. By way of comparison, the production of a glass of wine consumes 120 litres of water, which is not returned to the natural cycle.
  6. The new piste rollers of the ski lift carousel detect with centimetre accuracy how much snow is under and in front of the roller. So we know exactly how much snow has to be produced. This makes snowmaking more targeted and efficient.
  7. In floodlighting, energy-saving and durable LED technology helps save energy.
  8. The usually short distances tourists have to travel to get to the resort ensure a better energy balance than flights to Mallorca, for example.
  9. In order to rely more strongly on regenerative energy in the future, roof areas in the ski lift carousel will be equipped with photovoltaic systems and energy recovery systems will be installed in the lift drives.
  10. A ski bus that shuttles to the high-altitude villages and special trains to the Ruhr area will ensure that holidaymakers will have to use their cars less.


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