Skier Alison Gannett Promotes Sustainable Travel to Save Our Snow

Extreme freeskier Alison Gannett is on a mission to save our snow. Some of the glaciers she skied on a decade ago are no longer around. Gannett photographs glacier change on her ski trips, and she is a climate change solutions consultant. She travels around the world to talk to schools, governments and companies about how they can reduce their carbon footprint (she chooses sustainable travel options, of course). She was named as one of the 'Green All-Stars' in Outside Magazine this year (next to Leonardo DiCaprio and Arnold Schwarzenegger), and Ski Magazine selected her as the "Ski Hero of 2010".

Gannett preaches green without being preachy. In 2004, she launched the Global Cooling Tour to spread the word about the dangers of climate change. Showing a "crazy ski video" gets everyone's attention, and then they're ready to hear a word or two about global warming. Gannett warns people that the snow is melting terrifically quickly, and that it might not be there for their grandkids. In Europe, where it's warming quickly, ski areas are going out of business. Her presentation includes scary statistics, along with exciting ski videos. Journalist Michael Behar called it "Warren Miller meets An Inconvenient Truth". She's presented it more than 2,000 times around the world (everywhere from Poland to Pakistan).

Gannett walks the walk, too. She has built an eco-friendly house with straw bales. Recently, Gannett moved to Paonia, Colorado, to see if she could live off the land with her fiance, Jason Trimm. She hasn't been to the supermarket since April. As she says, though, “I’m not a hippy-dippy, oovy-groovy, granola-eating environmentalist. I’m all about having a plan to reduce our carbon footprint 20 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. We have to get systematic about this. Methodical.” Her carbon footprint was 20 tons a year ago, but now she's got it down to two. Airplane travel is her biggest problem.

As an ambassador for Patagonia and an extreme freestyle skier, Gannett travels a lot. She has combined her vacation and her work trips so that she doesn't spend as much time criss-crossing the world. She also tries to use sustainable travel forms whenever possible: she takes the train or the bus, she rides her bike, and so forth. She also chooses green(ish) airlines whenever she can, and stays at eco hotels.

Alison Gannett has given heli-skiing, because it has a (big) ugly carbon footprint. Heli-skiing uses approximately 75 US gallons of gas each hour. Of course, given the grooming, transportation, lifts, and so forth, resort skiing isn't exactly eco-friendly either. Gannett puts on her skins and hikes up as often as she can, and makes sustainable travel choices at the resorts she visits (eating locally grown food, for example). After she quit heli-skiing, Gannett gave up her snowmobile. And, after her seventh knee surgery, Gannett stopped competing, but she didn't stop skiing. Instead, she put her energy into competing on behalf of the environment.  For more about Alison and her work, please visit AlisonGannett.com.

Photo credit: JCLeacock.com