For most people, summer skiing means indoor snow centres or glacier skiing above 3,000 metres (hey, whatever keeps the snow beneath our feet right?). But neither option promises adventure, unforgettable experiences and waist-deep powder - for this you'll have to look beyond Europe and head to the mountains of the Southern Hemisphere.
Experience the ulimate in summer ski adventures with a guided snow safari in Chile, Argentina or New Zealand. The Southern Hemisphere ski season kicks off just after the Northern Hemipshere wraps up for winter, with most resorts opening late May or early June.
Freeriding in Patagonia. Credit: PowderQuest
We've scanned the globe to find the best summer ski safaris. Here's our pick of the best . . .
CHILE & ARGENTINA
Price/Date: $4,695 (USD) per person/Aug. 21 to Sept. 1, 2012
In a nutshell: A 12-day guided off-piste ski and snowboarding trip in Chile and Argentina (maximum of eight people).
Ski level: Advanced to expert
Where: Starting in Patagonia and finishing on the volcanoes of Chile. Ski four resorts: [R738R, Catedral Alta Patagonia], Cerro Bayo, [R759R, Villarrica-Pucon] and [R757R, Nevados de Chillan].
Highlights: Take a road trip through two national parks in the Andes; hike and descend two of Chile's volcanoes, including Villarrica - one of the world's most active; soak in volcanic hot springs; dine in mountain restaurants and enjoy a cookout on a Mapuche Indian family farm; visit one of Chile's best outdoor markets; and sample the nightlife from quiet cafes to energetic bars and nightclubs.
Price includes: Two certifified ski guides; ski lift tickets; avalanche safety instruction; lodging with private bath; half-board (breakfast and dinner); red wine and mineral water at dinner; private transportation; and entrance to the hot springs.
The Freerider Tour is PowderQuest's original adventure dating back to 1999. David Owen, founder of PowderQuest, says the main benefits of using PowderQuest instead of coming on your own is that you'll save time. He says, "You'll be skiing with certified guides who know the terrain, can keep you safe and also get you to the goods faster."
Watch PowderQuest's Ski South America video:
PowderQuest offers numerous South American ski tours for advanced and expert skiers and riders, but intermediates can also find instructional adventures.
As well as the guided group tours, PowderQuest also organise tailor-made private tours. David says, "One of the most exciting private tours we've organised has been for a honeymoon couple. Their goal was to ski several of the smoking volcanoes in southern Chile followed by a week of luxury heliskiing out of Santiago. They ended up skiing three volcanoes and soaking in hot springs followed by a week of wine tasting and heliskiing. The helicopter departed daily right off the roof of their hotel in downtown Santiago."
Soaking in hot springs in Chile. Credit PowderQuest
Price/Date: $1,799 (NSD) per person/Runs weekly from June 30 to Sept. 26
In a nutshell: Seven-day guided ski and snowboard tour of six resorts on New Zealand's South Island (maximum of 16 people).
Ski level: All abilities welcome
Where: Explore six ski resorts: [R764R, Mt Hutt], [R777R, Ohau], [R781R, Treble Cone], [R780R, Cardrona], [R774R, Coronet Peak] and [R465R, The Remarkables].
Highlights: Guided tour of the best runs and powder on South Island; a free day to explore Queenstown; soaking in the hot pools of Lake Tekapo; apres-ski entertainment of Wanaka and Queenstown; and optional add-on activities like heliskiing and lessons.
Price includes: Lodging with breakfast; six ski resort lift passes; all transport and mountain transfers; guided tour of each resort; and entrance to the hot pools. Beginners can purchase the Beginner Pack - $1,999 which includes group lessons and rentals.
Watch highlights from Haka Tour's South Island Snow Safari:
The South Island Snow Safari is particularly popular because it is suitable for all skiing levels and appeals to a range of budgets. Sarah Crisp, marketing manager for Haka Tours, says, "Our base tour is budget-friendly, while our add-on activities and bonuses let you customise your holiday to what you want it to be. For example, beginners can take lessons while more advanced skiers can go heliskiing."
Haka Tours group on South Island, New Zealand
Haka Tours also offer a shorter guided ski tour in New Zealand, the three-day North Island Snow Fix Tour of Turoa and Whakapapa. For more independence, select one of their self-guided tours which range from two to seven days.