Freestyle skier jumping off cliff
Outside Business Journal

Competing Ski Resort Operators Join Forces to Fight Climate Change

Alterra Mountain Co., Boyne Resorts, POWDR, and Vail Resorts this week announced the Climate Collaborative Charter, a unified effort to promote ski-resort sustainability

Freestyle skier jumping off cliff
Eric Smith

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Alterra Mountain Co., Boyne Resorts, Powdr, and Vail Resorts are fierce competitors when it comes to attracting skiers and snowboarders to their respective slopes. After all, Epic vs. Ikon isn’t called a “pass war” for nothing.

But off the mountain, the companies understand the power of their collective voice. The four businesses—a mix of privately held and publicly traded entities—own a combined 71 resorts, including some of the most iconic mountains in North America.

Leveraging that power, the ski resort operators joined have forces to create the Climate Collaborative Charter, a unified effort centered on combating climate change and promoting sustainability and advocacy across the ski industry.

The Climate Collaborative Charter was signed by the resorts’ four chief executives—Rusty Gregory of Alterra Mountain Co., Stephen Kircher of Boyne Resorts, Wade Martin of Powdr, and Rob Katz of Vail Resorts—who are putting aside their battle for customer wallet share and working toward a common goal.

“We all must reach across the chairlift to work together, and the Climate Collaborative Charter is a phenomenal step of unity that complements on-site actions like using solar power at all of our resorts,” said Laura Schaffer, Powdr director of corporate responsibility.

A Shared Journey

As part of this collaboration, the ski resort operators have committed to such ideals as “reducing energy use wherever possible and aggressively pursuing renewable energy sources,” and “being responsible stewards of the environment—the land, forests, watersheds, and habitats that provide the pristine locations where we live, work, and host guests.”

But the Charter doesn’t provide metrics for how the individual companies will achieve these goals, stating only that they will “incorporate sustainability into all aspects of their owned and operated mountain resorts; lead by example and educate employees and guests about sustainability; place collaboration over competition when it comes to sustainability; and advocate for climate protection.”

While lacking specific commitments, the Climate Collaborative Center does, however, incorporate elements from the National Ski Areas Association’s Sustainable Slopes platform, which helps ski areas commit to sustainable practices across their operation.

The Charter was almost two years in the making, said Kircher, Boyne Resorts’ president and CEO.

“The idea for the four of us to unite in this pledge to combat climate change was actually formed at an industry conference in October of 2019 and it has endured many iterations and diligent review to get us to where we proudly are today,” Kircher said.

The goal now, in addition to implementing the goals of the charter, is to get independent ski resort owners to join the cause. The more resorts that tackle climate change, the longer everyone’s lifts can spin each season.

“This is an incredible opportunity for industry leaders to engage in healthy competition while educating, sharing best practices and knowledge, and motivating each other to put our best efforts forth to help support the urgent and core issues of sustainability,” said David Perry, executive VP, ESG, Alterra Mountain Co.

“It is through bold environmental commitments and ongoing collaboration that we will have the most impact on protecting and preserving the great outdoors,” added Kate Wilson, senior director of sustainability at Vail Resorts. “Through the Climate Collaborative Charter, we look forward to partnering with these passionate leaders, and the entire industry, to leverage our progress and support many others on the same journey.”