Meltdown, The Alps Under Pressure, National Geographic Magazine

The rugged terrain of the Alps shaped local culture for centuries, but today, man is affecting the mountains. Parading in costumes of moss, men follow ancient Pagan traditions in part of the Tyrol in present-day Austria—in dramatic contrast to the glitzy scene where alpine skiers in St. Moritz use the mountains as Europe’s playground.

The Alps formed millions of years ago when the classic granite was squeezed upward into mountains by the African landmass colliding with Eurasia. Though upper reaches of the Alps are pristine, global warming impacts the lower elevations. Ski resorts use a quick fix by covering the snow pack with high tech fleece blankets to keep it from melting.

Upscale shoppers continue to buy luxury items with a younger generation …

Meltdown, The Alps Under Pressure, National Geographic Magazine

The rugged terrain of the Alps shaped local culture for centuries, but today, man is affecting the mountains. Parading in costumes of moss, men follow ancient Pagan traditions in part of the Tyrol in present-day Austria—in dramatic contrast to the glitzy scene where alpine skiers in St. Moritz use the mountains as Europe’s playground.

The Alps formed millions of years ago when the classic granite was squeezed upward into mountains by the African landmass colliding with Eurasia. Though upper reaches of the Alps are pristine, global warming impacts the lower elevations. Ski resorts use a quick fix by covering the snow pack with high tech fleece blankets to keep it from melting.

Upscale shoppers continue to buy luxury items with a younger generation learning the ropes. Rural charm attracts spa goers who pay to take a milk bath and relax in a bed of straw for a rustic experience.

Religion is deeply entrenched throughout the Alps but it is often a combination of primitive and Christian traditions. Before Lent and Easter comes Carnival, a celebration of the end of winter. On the last day (the Sunday before Ash Wednesday), Pust, a man-like figure blamed for all the wrongdoings of the past year, is ritually burned.

In isolated valleys of northern Italy where there is subsistence agriculture, people live a simple rural life with a culture and language of their own that supercedes political boundaries.

Tourism now drives the economy. Environmental degradation and increased tourism, however, threaten the area and its diverse culture.

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