The 16 Sweetest Summer Ski Resorts in the World

21st April 2014 | Alicia Taylor, Editor

Resorts in this article: Cerro Catedral Alta Patagonia, Coronet Peak, Dachstein Glacier, Hintertuxer Gletscher, Kitzsteinhorn - Kaprun, Las Lenas, Les 2 Alpes, Perisher, Saas Fee, Ski Portillo, Tignes, Timberline Lodge, Treble Cone, Valle Nevado, Whistler/Blackcomb, Zermatt

Summer skiing on Le Grand Motte Glacier in Tignes, France.

Summer ski resort: Strip down and hit the Grand Motte Glacier, Tignes.

Copyright: Tignes

It may be summer, but snow is still falling, and skiers are lapping it up somewhere—so drop the beach towels and grab your shells. Summer skiing means heading to the highest peaks of North America and Europe or flying to the Southern Hemisphere—New Zealand, Australia, Chile or Argentina—where the winter season is in full swing from June to October.

Here’s our pick of the coolest summer ski resorts around the world:

1. KAPRUN, Austria

The Kitzsteinhorn Glacier above Kaprun has a large, year-round ski area boasting varied runs and a terrain park with eight jumps and 12 jibs. Intermediate skiers and riders will feel particularly at home here. After a few runs, chill out at the Ice Arena with its snow beach, igloos, snow slides and ice bar. Non-skiers can take free guided panoramic hikes across the glacier between July and September. 

Kaprun - Kitzsteinhorn

2. DACHSTEIN, Austria

The Dachstein Glacier above Ramsau am Dachstein is open 11 months of the year beginning at the end of May. Its flat, north-facing slopes offer year-round powder conditions. It boasts 18km (12 miles) of well-groomed ski runs as well as the popular Horsefeathers Superpark, featuring boxes, jumps, rails, jibs and tubes. The Dachstein is the international training centre for cross-country skiers, bi-athletes and Nordic combination athletes. Summer lifts run from 7:50 a.m. to 4:50 p.m., and non-skiers have the Dachstein Sky Walk, the Dachstein Ice Palace and the Glacier Viewpoint. Food and drinks are served at the Glacier Restaurant next to the Upper Station.

Dachstein West

Copyright: OÖ Tourismus / Erber

3. HINTERTUX, Austria

The Hintertux is one of the few remaining glaciers to open 365 days a year. During summer, 22km (14 miles) of runs are open and accessed by nine lifts, including the Glacier Bus 3 with 24-person cabins, capable of transporting 3,000 skiers per hour. The Hintertux offers a good range of runs for all levels, but is famous for its steep, challenging terrain. Freestyle fans can hit the half-pipe, fun boxes, table-tops and rails at Betterpark. The Tuxer Sportbus is a free bus service which operates year-round transporting guests from Vorderlanersbach, Lanersbach, Juns or Madseit to the bottom of the glacier.

Summer ski resort: Carving up the slopes on the Hintertux Glacier.

Copyright: Hintertux Tourist Office

4. LES 2 ALPES, France

Les 2 Alpes has one of the largest summer ski areas in Europe. The Mont-de-Lans Glacier is open from mid-June to late August. A funicular railway transports skiers up to the glacier’s eight runs (two green, four blue, two red) which are served by chairlifts and drags. Les 2 Alpes’ snowpark rivals that of Saas-Fee's glacier, with its snowskate zone, slopestyle (big air, tables, kickers and rails), cool zone, half-pipe (4.5m/15ft high, 120m/400ft long) and a smaller pipe suitable for beginners. Ski camps run throughout the summer.

Summer ski resort: Mont-de-Lans Glacier, Les 2 Alpes.

Copyright: Kathy Ribier

5. TIGNES, France

The Grand Motte Glacier has varied terrain—blue, red and black runs—accessed by chairlifts and drags. The summer ski area is open from mid-June to August. It takes just seven minutes to get up to the base of the glacier on the underground funicular from Tignes. The North Face run is very popular and not too steep, but can get a little chilly. The glacier snowpark appeals to freestylers, pros and amateurs with its half-pipe, rails, moguls, hip ramp, quarter-ramps and rainbow rail. Tignes’ summer ski school runs five-day workshops and hour-long lessons each day. The glacier closes at 1 p.m. which is a perfect time to take your skis down to the water ramps on the lake.

Summer ski resort: Strip down and hit the Grand Motte Glacier, Tignes.

Copyright: Tignes

6. ZERMATT, Switzerland

Zermatt has a whopping 25km (16 miles) of summer skiing on its Theodul Glacier and is open every day from May to mid-November, accessed by the Klein Matterhorn cable car. The summer ski area is shared with Cervinia in Italy, so you can ski over the border for lunch. The 13 runs are divided into blues and reds. The Gravity Park features a half-pipe, kickers and rails and also offers one of the best views of that mountain—the Matterhorn.

Summer ski resort: Klein Matterhorn cable car transports skiers up to the Theodul Glacier, Zermatt.

Copyright: Ollie O'Brien

7. SAAS FEE, Switzerland

The Allalin Glacier is accessed via the underground gondola and is open from mid-July to late October. The lifts run from 7:30 a.m to 1 p.m, but it takes an hour to reach the glacier, so get up early to avoid the slush. The 20-kilometer ski area, just edged in size by Zermatt’s glacier, is well suited to intermediates and is particularly popular with freestylers and race teams. The snowpark has a half-pipe, kickers, rails, boxes and transitions in all shapes and sizes to suit all skill levels. The whole park is groomed daily to ensure top conditions. Take a break at the chill-out zone with music and couches located below the pipe. The snowpark bursts onto the scene each summer with the Saas Fee Ride competition, complete with DJs and a barbecue. Freestylers of all levels can sign up for coaching at the British Freeski Camps. The glacier also has a restaurant and sun terrace serving lunch and beers.

A snowboarder catching air and performing a grab at Saas Fee, in the Valais region of Switzerland.

8. WHISTLER, British Columbia

Get in an early-morning mountain bike ride then head up to the Horstman Glacier, open from noon to 3 p.m. between mid-June and late July each year. It is a scenic 45-minute ride up to the glacier via three chairlifts, with views of the entire Whistler Valley from the top. The glacier, served by two drag lifts, has terrain park features, mogul fields and groomed slopes. Lunch is served at the European-inspired Horstman Hut, perched at the summit of Blackcomb Mountain.

An aerial view of Whistler's summer glacier area, Blackcomb.

Copyright: Dano Pendygrasse

9. TIMBERLINE LODGE, Oregon

Timberline Lodge runs the longest season in North America—open daily between late May and early September. The resort grooms several lanes across Palmer Snowfield located on the south face of Mt. Hood. The summer ski area is primarily used for race camps, but the above-treeline terrain always includes one lane for public use. A terrain park is maintained on Otto Lang. Located about an hour's drive from Portland, summer skiing is open daily from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Summer ski resort: Palmer Snowfield, Timberline Lodge, Oregon.

Copyright: Charles Dawley

10. LAS LENAS, Argentina

Las Lenas is the highest ski resort in Argentina and boasts a reliable snow record. The 64km (40 miles) of well-groomed pistes (27 runs) are best suited to beginners and intermediates. Advanced and expert skiers don't come for the runs, but for the deep off-piste powder. Some of the best powder can be found on the steep bowl and long couloirs accessed from the Marte chairlift. The snowpark features jumps, bumps and rails, with different modules for every level. More than 100 ski instructors can help you brush up on your skills, while the more advanced embark on an expedition into virgin snow with a guide. Three mountain restaurants serve refreshments and local dishes.

Summer ski resort: Lifts and slopes of Las Lenas, Argentina.

Copyright: Phil Goth

11. CERRO CATEDRAL, Argentina

Cerro Catedral is one of the biggest ski areas in South America. Its 120km (75 miles) of runs offer beautiful views of the Nahuel Huapi Lake. The 38 lifts include a modern bubble and six-seater chairlift. The slopes are sprinkled with 20 mountain huts for snacks and refreshments. A snowpark features rails, boxes and ramps for freestyle fans and hosts four freestyle events: Big Air Reef, Rip Curl Winter Search, Girls Only and Gorilla Day.

PowderQuest client Cerro Catedral skis Argentina

Copyright: Maxi Artoni

12. VALLE NEVADO, Chile

Valle Nevado has plenty of sunshine and plenty of snow. The 37km (24 miles) of runs are served by some of the most modern lifts in South America, including the very first gondola in Chile as part of a 10-year, $150 million Master Development Plan that will eventually create a Mountain Village at the base of the resort. The ski area also has links with neighboring El Colorado and La Parva to make up the 3 Valleys of the Andes—a total of 107km (66 miles) of terrain. Freeriders can hit the deep powder bowls above the tree line. Valle Nevado's Monopark is one of the best terrain parks in South America and features boxes, jumps, rails and a quarter-pipe.

Sunshine skiing in Valle Nevado, Chile.

13. SKI PORTILLO, Chile

Ski Portillo’s owners have strived to keep it small and intimate. In fact one of its biggest selling points is that there is no town, no shopping center and no Starbucks. There is just one big yellow hotel, which accommodates 400 people at a time, meaning there are rarely any lift lines and slopes do not suffer from over-crowding. Portillo's 45km (28 miles) of long groomed runs are accessed by chairs and drags. For advanced/expert skiers who’ll cover the runs in a matter of hours, it’s the freeriding that is the major draw with its abundance of steep off-piste faces. Heli operations are available to take you to even higher elevations and descents. Portillo also has countless backcountry areas that can be hiked. The resort's high altitude means skiing back to your accommodation is the norm.

Summer ski resort: Nothing but powder and the iconic yellow hotel in Portillo, Chile.

Copyright: Portillo Ski

14. CORONET PEAK, New Zealand

Coronet Peak is the most popular ski resort on the South Island of New Zealand, in part due to its proximity to Queensland 20 minutes away. From the summit, look left to see 'Gondor' from the movie, The Lord of the Rings. The varied terrain offers something for everyone: beginners and intermediates have wide blue and red runs, while more advanced skiers can hit the terrain park or test their stamina on the longest run, the “M-1”, stretching 2.4km (1.5 miles). The resort is known for its efficient high-speed chairlifts.

Snowboarder taking in the views at Coronet Peak, New Zealand

Copyright: Adrian Pua

15. TREBLE CONE, New Zealand

Treble Cone, in Lake Wanaka, is the largest ski area on the South Island. The resort covers two basins—the Saddle and Home basin. Both provide some of the best freeriding in New Zealand. Fans of steep and challenging terrain claim Treble Cone has some of the best in the country. Advanced riders can take guided tours out to the Motatapu Chutes. Beginners and intermediates are not left out however with plenty of long, uncrowded runs.

Skiing powder atop Treble Cone, NZ.

Copyright: Treble Cone/Ben Skinner

16. PERISHER, Australia

Perisher in New South Wales is the largest ski area in Australia (and the Southern Hemisphere, for that matter). It is made up of four villages: Perisher Valley, Blue Cow, Simiggins Holes and Guthega, all of which are connected and offer varied terrain. It’s about a six-hour drive from Sydney, and you'll find plenty of skiing on seven mountain peaks accessed by 49 lifts, including a high-speed eight-seater. Most of the area is intermediate, but beginners and advanced skiers will also find their spots. Freestyle fans will love the five terrain parks and a super-pipe. End your day sipping Brumby Schnapps in the Top Spot Bar at the Blue Cow terminal.

Summer ski resort: Near the top of Mount Perisher, Australia.

Copyright: Andrew Kisliakov

 

 

 

 

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