How a ski area disappeared and was restored

The ski resort on the Gschwender Horn was unfavorable

In the early 1970s, many ski areas were developed in Bavaria, including Immenstadt im Allgäu. The people of Oberallgäu have prepared four slopes and built two lifts in the Gschwender Horn. However, after a few years it became clear that the Gschwender Horn was not really suitable for skiing. Too small, too windy, not enough snow. The municipality of Immenstadt had to make a decision: whether to renovate the ski area for big money and, among other things, invest in systems artificial snow invest? Or should they not buy snow guns and give up skiing?

Other ski areas are also suffering from warmer winters

More and more ski areas may face the decision to renaturate ski runs in the future. Because science agrees: temperatures will continue to rise in the coming years. It is already noticeable less snow. As calculated by Wageningen University in the Netherlands, a blanket of snow fell In Europe, an average of twelve percent per decade since 1951. In the long run, only a few ski areas in Bavaria will be able to do without artificial snow.

The decision to renovate

The residents of Immenstadt didn’t just decide against artificial snow. Instead, the entire area had to be renatured, that is, restored to its original state. The works started in 1994: elevator masts were dismantled, buildings were demolished, slopes were repaired. The work lasted four years and cost about 800,000 marks, which is about 409,000 euros. Most of the costs were borne by the Allianz Environmental Fund, but the city, the Free State of Bavaria and the EU also contributed.

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The lift lanes were planted with forest

Forester Gerhard Honold takes a few steps further on the Gschwender horn. He points to the forest. There used to be an elevator here. A path was cut in the forest for that purpose. As a result, many trees were cut down. The residents of Immenstadt replanted this passage with a forest. They planted more than 6,000 trees, and Gerhard Honold was also involved in reforestation at that time. A mixed forest of spruce, elm, beech and sycamore was supposed to grow on about one hectare. The concept mostly worked. Today, the trees are already about eight meters high and are an important refuge for endangered animal species.

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