The beach? Nah, head for the hills. Even in summer snow still falls at high-altitude glacier resorts, so here’s our guide to some cool summer skiiing in Europe and North America.
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 early September. 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. Six-day ski camps run throughout the summer. Lifts open from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Multiple day passes also give free access to the swimming pool, the luge and tennis courts.
The Hintertux is one of the few remaining glaciers to open 365 days a year. Summer skiing at the Hintertux includes 22km (14 miles) of runs 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 that operates year-round transporting guests from Vorderlanersbach, Lanersbach, Juns or Madseit to the bottom of the glacier. Other summer activities on the mountain include taking a boat, kayak or swimming into Nature’s Ice Palace.
The Grand Motte Glacier has varied terrain — blue, red and black runs — accessed by chairlifts and drags. Summer skiing here is open from mid-June to early September. 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. A Tignes Open Pass which also gives you access to the bike park, kayaking, climbing, mini golf and more, too.
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 the Matterhorn.
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 skiing 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.
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 can be bought at the European-inspired Horstman Hut, perched at the summit of Blackcomb Mountain.
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-kilometre 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 as well as a popular snow tubing slope. 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.
The Kitzsteinhorn Glacier above Kaprun has a large summer 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. Non-skiers can take free guided panoramic hikes across the glacier between July and September. There’s also a fun tobogganing slope for the whole family. Summer skiing operates from June 29 to July 21 and then reopens in autumn.
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. 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.