Global Warming – On Thinning Ice

snow_flurries_thin_iceStanding atop Iceland’s massive, 227-square mile Myrdalsjokull ice cap, it’s hard to believe that it’s melting. (They don’t call it Iceland for nothing.) But scientists say that’s just what it’s doing, and it’s only a matter of time before the ice– which is more than 2,200 feet deep in spots — becomes flowing water. Don’t charter that seaplane just yet, though: Arcanum Adventure Tours’ snowmobile expeditions let you experience the icy side of Iceland while you still can.

Almost Heaven
snow_flurries_heavenLord Byron once said, “There’s naught, no doubt, so much the spirit calms as rum and true religion.” Well, that and a sweethill loaded with fresh powder. Now the Journey Above the Clouds package from Vail Resorts and Zacapa Rum combines these (at least the rum and powder parts) in the hyper luxurious sk itrip of a lifetime. For the princely sum of $40,000, you and four of your wealthiest friends can spend five days indulging in incredible skiing by day, ultra-premium rum-fueled festivities by night — and the kind of life experience that only a lot of money can buy.

Natural Inclinations
On the slopes, green means easy. But for the environmentally conscious ski resort, it can be anything but. Pushed by concerned locals and guests — and an awareness of how important the environment is to the business of skiing — resorts are greening up their act. As they’re looking beyond the recycle bin, they’re looking to each other. “Not every innovation out there is a success,” says Auden Schendler, director of sustainability at Aspen Ski Company. “It’s about sharing and learning about what works within the industry.”

Going Green
snow_flurries_going_greenKnowing that more than half of a resort’s environmental impact comes from the buildings themselves, leaders in the resort industry have gotten creative from the ground up.  Hotel Terra in Jackson Hole is the first in a collection of green hotels launched by the Terra Resort Group:From the “EcoShake” shingles on the roof to the recycled skyscraper glass in the bathroom soap dishes, it doesn’t leave a single reusable stone unturned. And when The Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe opened in December, it did so with $5 million worth of recycled materials.

Blue Heaven
snow_flurries_blue_heavenWater in its frozen state is our raison d’être, so of course we’re happy when people figure out ways to conserve it and put it to good use. Although little things like Hotel Terra’s highly effcient solar-powered faucets and low-maintenance landscaping seem like a drop in the bucket, they add up to a 34 percent reduction in annual water usage. In 2006, Badrutt’s Palace in St. Moritz started pumping water from nearby Lake St. Moritz to heat the entire premises.  Aspen Skiing Company goes a step further: its micro-hydroelectric plant on Snowmass Mountain uses water from a snow making pond to generate 115,000 kilowatt hours per year.


The New Black
snow_flurries_new_blackOne of the main things a resort can do to reduce its carbon footprint is invest in alternative energy technology . In2007, JiminyPeak installed a $3.9 million wind turbine; powered by wind gusts as low as 6 mph ,it now generates fully a third of the resort’s power. Jackson Hole SkiResort operates on 100 percent renewable energy. And when you stay in the Green Suite at The Little Nell in Aspen, your luxe pad — which operates entirely on power generated from 25 solar panels on the roof — employs a nifty energy-usage monitor to tell when you’ve left to hit the slopes and turns off the lights and lowers the temperature until you return.