At an altitude of nearly 1500m, the Feldberg is the highest mountain in the Black Forest, located in south west Germany. The world’s first ski lift was built here in 1904, powered by a local watermill. The evolution of a winter sports industry altered this region into a large recreation area. Tourism has become the main source of revenue. Featuring a subalpine climate and favourable snow conditions, the Feldberg has become a popular destination with a dense network of 38 lifts and more than 60km of slopes.
As a consequence of climate change, rising air temperatures reduce snowfall and leads to earlier melting of snow. For skiing and snowboarding as little as 20cm of snow may be sufficient. Responding to a lack of natural snow, resorts worldwide, as well as in the Black Forest, invest in snowmaking facilities to extend the season. Technical snow consists only of water and cold air. Chemicals in man-made snow are strictly banned in Germany, as they affect vegetation and soil. Despite technological advances, there is still environmental concern because of the huge energy and water consumption.