The MoonBike

There’s a new, sustainable way to get around in the Alps: the MoonBike. If you have never heard of it, read on.

As we found out in this article on Euronews, the idea of building an electric snow bike came to Nicolas Muron – CEO of MoonBikes – in 2015, when visiting his grandparents’ home in the French Alps. He made a simple observation: transportation options are infinite in the summer months, but when winter comes around, heavily polluting cars and snowmobiles are the only viable option.

Nicolas took on the challenge of finding a solution. He created the world’s first electric snow bike – an ambitious undertaking aimed at protecting the environment he calls home, and having some fun along the way.

A sustainable solution

At just 87 kilograms, the MoonBike provides a speedy alternative over three times lighter than a conventional snowmobile. But while ergonomic factors remain a key selling point for Muron’s design, his main drive lies in bringing sustainability to an industry infamous for its gas-guzzling.

Fossil-fuel powered skidoos cause significant damage to land cover, affecting vegetation growth throughout the year. In one hour, a typical snowmobile can emit as much hydrocarbon as a 2008 model automobile emits in 86,000 kilometres of driving. Their exhaust fumes contain dangerous levels of toxins, degrading air quality and altering snow chemistry for good.

The MoonBike, meanwhile, can cover up to 64 kilometres with a single 2.5 kilowatt battery. It can climb groomed slopes with a 40 per cent steepness, and boasts top speeds of up to 42 kilometres per hour. “In the powder snow, it seems like skiing or snowboarding,” says Muron. “Because it’s completely silent, you really feel like you’re sliding, you can really curve lines just like you do when skiing.”

You can watch a video of the MoonBike in action here.

The future of skiing

With temperatures continuing to rise due to climate change, the future of skiing is undeniably in danger. Ski seasons are starting later and getting shorter each year. As an event agency based in the Alps, we are particularly sensitive to this issue. That’s why we are always interested in ski resorts’ plans for re-designing the future of the mountains.

Skiing up higher

An interesting article on France 24 explores three different models implemented by ski resorts in France. The first one is Valloire (Savoie), whose manager Jean-Marie Martin has chosen to close ten lower-altitude slopes and open four new ones higher up.

This 8-million investment will allow to get 30 to 40 more years of alpine skiing out of the resort. In the long term, though, the plan is to diversify away from the “ski only” model, creating a year-round resort.

Artificial snow

With average snowfalls dropping significantly, it is logical to think about increasing snow production. However, this process takes energy and requires vast quantities of water to be stored, so that it’s ready for cold enough temperatures to start production. This often means creating artificial lakes.

This solution hasn’t been taken well by the community in La Clusaz (Upper Savoie). Creating an artificial lake in a forest would entail felling trees and threatening biodiversity. Even though local authorities insist that the lake could also serve local farmers and be a source of drinking water, two thirds would be reserved for snowmaking. 

Diversification

Contrary to La Clusaz, the Métabief resort in the France’s Jura region has anticipated the resort’s last ski season in the early 2030s. Olivier Erard, the resort manager, is working to ensure economic alternatives are in place. These could be year-round attractions such as mountain biking, hiking and paragliding.

We think these plans to implement changes are very good news: the future of skiing as an activity might be uncertain, however, mountain tourism is continuously evolving and is definitely very far from ending.

Sustainable ski resorts

With shorter winters, decreasing snowfalls and warmer temperatures, the effects of climate change in the mountains are becoming increasingly visible. It is likely that only high-altitude locations will be able to offer skiing as the seasons go on, or that skiing will be entirely replaced by other sport activities.

While the effects of global warming are unlikely to disappear, can ski resorts implement sustainable measures to delay such effects? In this article by National Geographic we have found a list of extremely sustainable ski resorts.

Zermatt, Switzerland. This car-free resort is easily accessed by train and has impeccable eco credentials: a photovoltaics (solar) system powers its gondola lift station; electric buses take skiers from A to B; snow groomers run on eco-speed diesel; and environmental experts oversee construction work. 

Flims Laax Falera, Switzerland. This resort is taking the fast run towards self-sufficiency and 100% renewable energy. Its electricity already comes from CO2-neutral sources and all new lift facilities are equipped with photovoltaics. There are e-vehicle and e-bike charging points, recycling stations, drinking water fountains and protected zones for animals and plants. Even the ski wax is biodegradable. 

Saas Fee, Switzerland. This is the world’s first carbon-neutral municipality. The car-free resort runs on hydropower and has nailed it transport-wise, with an e-car sharing service and emission-free ski buses. 

Wolf Creek, Colorado. Deep, steep and snow-sure, Wolf Creek is a shining model of sustainability. The resort is carbon-free, conservation-minded and runs on 100% renewable energy. Its snowcats even use biodegradable grapeseed oil.

Kaprun, Austria. Cue high-elevation recultivation projects, lifts running on 100% ecologically generated energy and free ski buses. 

Pejo, Italy. This green-minded resort in Stelvio National Park, in Trentino, is plastic-free and has hydroelectric plants providing renewable energy. Plans are in place to introduce hybrid snowcats.

Avoriaz, France. The greenest of France’s Portes du Soleil ski resorts, Avoriaz has launched projects to revegetate slopes, protect natural snow and keep snow-groomer emissions to a minimum.

The Starlight Room

How would you feel about spending the night in a mountain cabin with 360 degree views of the Dolomites? This breathtaking experience is what the Starlight Room in Cortina offers its guests.

We are always looking for spectacular experiences for our clients, so it is no wonder we came across this magical venue. On the Cortina Starlight Room website you can find all the information on how the cabin was conceived and how it works.

The Starlight Room was born from an idea by Raniero Campigotto, who created the first wooden room with glass walls in 2016. The goal was to allow guests to sleep under the stars immersed in breathtaking nature. The project had great success and the design was developed to offer an even more comfortable and exciting experience.

The Starlight Room follows sustainable principles, as it is made using larch and fir wood crafted by local artisans and features solar panels to generate power. The room rotates around itself to offer ever-changing views of the breathtaking surroundings. The interiors show the traditional style of mountain cabins, made with natural wood and fabrics from Cortina. 

The room features two areas. On one side, a table furnished with a bench to enjoy a romantic dinner while watching the sunset. On the other side, a queen-size bed for the night. The glass walls offer unmatchable views over the Dolomites. The room has a small bathroom and is equipped with a heating system to guarantee maximum comfort in winter times.

The Starlight Room is located in a quiet, secluded area. The Rifugio Col Gallina staff drive guests to the room by snowmobile in winter and off-road vehicle in summer.

If you would like to try this incredible venue during your event, look no further. We have connections to local suppliers in all our destinations and we are always thrilled to include spectacular experiences in our clients’ event agenda!

Environmental tips

Climate change is becoming one of the world’s major issues and talking points. The development of ski resorts creates significant pressure on the mountains and their eco-system, and it is an undisputable fact that the glaciers are retreating. We found some useful environmental tips in this article on seechamonix.com to help preserve the mountains for future generations.

  • Be aware of your environmental impact as skiers and boarders. Educate yourself about your environmental impact on the mountains, and what you can do to minimize it.
  • Leave no trace – do not litter the slopes. When the snow melts at the end of the season, litter left behind will remain. Bin it or take it home with you. Did you know it takes up to two years for an orange peel skin to be absorbed by the earth? While a cigarette butt takes up to five years. If you find litter on the slopes, be responsible, do the right thing – pick it up.
  • Do your bit to reduce global warming on holiday and at home. In hotels, re-use your towels each day, and where possible recycle your household waste. Many French ski resorts now have excellent recycling facilities for plastics, cans and paper, glass and other waste. Additionally, if you’re not in your chalet or hotel room, switch off electrical appliances. A TV can use more energy when left on standby than it does during the time is being watched.
  • Encourage tour operators to adopt green policies. Find out if your tour operator offers train travel as an alternative to flying; if they use paper from sustainable forests for their brochures; if they use low-wattage light bulbs in their chalets and bio-degradable detergents.
  • Investigate whether your chosen resort uses environmentally friendly practices. Many resorts now use bio-diesel fuel in piste-bashers, solar panels for heating, hydro-electricity/wind energy for power and a host of other initiatives. Some resorts use the International Standards Organisation (ISO) 14001 as a mark of their environmental credentials.
  • Reduce CO2 emissions. By flying fewer miles or switching from air to rail, you can help reduce the volume of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Whenever possible, use your bike instead of your car.
  • Respect the natural habitat of mountain animals and plants. If you ski through trees, you can damage them by knocking off branches and killing young shoots under the snow. Take care. Many areas are out of bounds to protect the natural habitat of animals and plants – not just safety reasons.

As mountain lovers, let’s all make an effort to follow these simple, impactful environmental tips and make the Alps a better place for those who will visit them in the future.