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French ski resort uses helicopters to deliver snow for bare slopes

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Two men help a helicopter carrying snow near Luchon in French Pyrenees

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Helicopters moved snow from higher mountains to slopes at the Luchon-Superbagnères resort

A French ski resort has used helicopters to deliver snow after mild weather dried out its slopes, threatening it with closure.

The Luchon-Superbagnères resort in the Pyrenees arranged for around 50 tonnes of snow to be dropped on its slopes.

Taken from higher mountains, the snow was dumped on slopes for beginners and children on Friday and Saturday.

Temperatures have risen above 10C across the Pyrenees this week, leaving ski slopes devoid of snow.

Milder weather and a lack of snow during winter are trends that meteorologists have linked to climate change.

In order to keep Luchon-Superbagnères open, the local council arranged for snow to be sent at a cost of more than 5,000 euros (£4,150).

Hervé Pounau, director of the local council, said it was a worthwhile investment.

“We’re not going to cover the entire ski station in snow, but without it we would have had to close a huge part of the ski domain, and it’s during the holidays that we have the most activity for beginners and the ski schools,” Mr Pounau said.

The school holidays in February and March are typically the busiest time of year for ski resorts in France.

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Mild weather and a lack of snow have left ski slopes bare in the French Pyrenees

The jobs of up to 80 people, including lift operators, ski school teachers and child minders, will be protected by keeping the resort open, Mr Pounau said.

However, the delivery of snow has been criticised by environmental groups.

“Instead of adapting to global warming we’re going to end up with a double problem: something that costs a lot of energy, that contributes heavily to global warming and that in addition is only for an elite group of people who can afford it. It is the world upside down,” Bastien Ho, of green group Europe Écologie Les Verts (EELV), told French television.

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Helicopters were hired to move around 50 tonnes of snow to the slopes

Mr Pounau conceded that moving the snow was not a “particularly ecological” solution but said “we had no choice”.

Many other ski resorts in the Pyrenees mountains are facing an uncertain future, as low snowfall levels result in fewer visitors.

This month, the ski resort of Le Mourtis was forced to temporarily close down its ski runs in mid-season, impacting the local economy.

Unseasonably mild temperatures have melted snow at lower altitude ski resorts. France experienced its mildest January since 1900, according to Meteo-France, the country’s national forecaster.

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