The mild temperatures and strong storms at the beginning of the new year have made for green meadows. Ski slopes are closed, lifts are closed and athletes are switching from skis to hiking boots – for many tourists, the winter vacation at the start of the year has fallen through.
In the black forest, skiing enthusiasts only get their money’s worth at altitudes above 1000 meters. Only in the region around the feldberg there are still snow remnants. However, the strong wind is causing problems for winter sports enthusiasts there, says volker haselbacher from the upper black forest tourism and the lift association in freiburg. "There the spab holds itself in borders. In this weather, our guests prefer to go to the bathing paradise rather than to the slopes."All winter sports events planned for the coming days have been canceled.
In the northern black forest, only three cross-country ski trails are still groomed, "but they’re certainly no fun with the sticky snow," says wolfgang weiler of black forest tourism. But he is not giving up hope of snow: "last winter we had a great november and december – and in january it was over with the snow. Maybe this year it will be the other way round."
Skiers have to leave their skis in the closet in the harz as well. The mild temperatures and rain have melted the snow or made it sticky. "At the moment, only hiking is possible in the harz mountains," says the spokeswoman for the harz tourism association, eva-christin ronkainen. Many ski lifts had stopped operation. On tuesday, there were still 88 centimeters of snow on the brocken, the highest mountain in northern germany at 1141 meters. But due to heavy hurricane gusts, skiing and tobogganing were hardly possible even there.
Snow conditions are somewhat better in the bavarian winter sports areas. In the allgau alps, almost all ski lifts and cable cars were already in operation at the turn of the year, even though it rained at times in the valleys. Only for some descents down into the valley and cross-country skiing there were restrictions, as jorg muller-loennies from the allgau gmbh explains.
In upper bavaria, too – especially around germany’s highest mountain, the zugspitze (2962 meters) – almost all the lifts are in operation, according to the association of german ropeways. With snow depths ranging from 20 to 170 centimeters, skiers will find good conditions in some areas. The hotels in the winter sports resorts were almost fully booked over christmas.
Lift operators in rhineland-palatinate are losing revenue because of the unusually mild winter. Since no skiing was possible over the christmas period and during the vacations, 30 to 40 percent of the season’s income had already been lost, says the manager of the winter sports facility on the erbeskopf (816 meters), klaus hepp.
According to hepp, the weeks around the turn of the year are traditionally the most important in the winter sports business: "that’s when the hunger for snow is at its greatest."But the eight centimeters of snow that fell in mid-december were not enough for a ski slope. "Below 1500 meters, we are all in the same mourning community throughout germany."
Skiers in switzerland, on the other hand, can look forward to plenty of snow. Conditions for winter sports enthusiasts are currently perfect, says a spokeswoman for switzerland tourism on tuesday. Tourists are also lucky in austria: where there is already snow, there will be more in the next few days, as meteorologist christian csekits predicts in vienna. Deep winter already prevails in many places.