Leading The Way

Europe’s outdoor athletes share not only a passion and extreme dedication for their sport and the outdoors but also an acute awareness of how the natural world around them is changing, and how their livelihoods and entire communities are threatened by climate change. At the start of this winter, more than 50 of the most accomplished outdoor athletes in Europe, from mountain guides to mountain bikers, climbers to speed skiers, freeriders to highliners, stepped up to add their voices to our #LeadTheWay campaign pressing European leaders to show maximum climate ambition in setting Europe’s 2030 climate target. Their stories and messages are so compelling, we thought we’d gather some of them here.

“As a mountain guide my life revolves around the mountains. I have an up close look at the changes we see in the alpine throughout the seasons and every year. These mountains provide me with passion, adventure and my livelihood. I love sharing these experiences with people and it is imperative that we do what we can to help protect these magical places to ensure them for future generations. Here in La Grave, we see our glaciers melting at an alarming rate, our winter storms more erratic than ever before, and heat waves in the summer that are eroding the mountains themselves. Let’s all try to make a difference in protecting our planet.”

Erin Smart, IFMGA Mountain Guide, La Grave, France

Every winter I see this threatened environment slowly disappear and it hurts knowing that if nothing changes, in a few decades people won’t be able to experience this same happiness again. Join me in taking action! Together we can do this!”

Emil Zulian, Snowboarder, Italy

I love the high alpine, I find peace as well as challenges up there. But climate change is affecting these highly sensitive ecosystems, from the disappearing of permafrost and icewalls, (making many descents impossible) to changes and shifts in the amounts of precipitation and snowfall. I want future generations to be able enjoy gliding in the snow in the middle of Europe too.

Manuela Mandl, Freeride World Tour Champion, Austria

Climbing on the unique granite of Chamonix might be something that will not last forever. High mountains in this range are particularly impacted by climate change and the melting of permafrost. Mountaineering is about commitment , our political leaders need to rope up and commit now.”

Johanna Sullivan, IFMGA Mountain Guide, Les Ecrins, France

“The northernmost part of Norway is blessed by a strong current crossing the Atlantic ocean called the Gulf stream. Without this phenomenon bringing humid ocean air and a steady flow of low pressures, these mountains would not receive nearly as much snow, and would instead turn too cold to inhabit. With rapid Arctic ice cap melting and its freshwater dilluting the North Sea, the strength of the Gulf stream is weakening and could in the future be redirected. We can combat these scenarios by making the shift to sustainable energy sources, and preserve this truly unique place for our future generations!”

Jacob Wester, Freeskier, Surfer, Plant-eater, Van-dweller, Sweden

The glaciers matter to me because I’ve skied all my life and I’ve experienced this majestic beauty since I was little. From my balcony I can see the glacier every day and it’s a source of calmness and happiness to me and I want my kids to also still see and experience the glacier. I also see this beauty throughout my lifetime disappearing! So go out and see and imagine a world where this beauty will remain and give us all a steady source of whatever it means to you. Raise your voice to protect it!”

Lena StoffelFreeskier, Filmmaker, Photographer, Adventurer, Surfer, Austria