Summer Skiing 2019

STORY BY Patrick 8th June 2019

For avoid skiers and snowboarders the arrival of spring brings mixed feelings. Longer days and warmer weather are always nice, yet the thought of the snow thawing and the ski lifts closing down until next winter always brings that sense of sadness.

But fear not! There’s no reason why you can’t hit the slopes with your skis or board every day of the year if you want to.

From spring to autumn you have the choice of glacier skiing in Europe or North America, heading south of the equator for winter there, or staying local and skiing at one of our dry slopes or indoor snow centres.

Glacier Skiing in Europe

Although the number of ski areas offering summer snowsports is declining due to climate change, and those that still offer it are doing so for shorter and shorter seasons, you can still ski or board between May and October at several dozen areas in Austria, France, Italy, Norway and Switzerland.

Summer skiing is different though. The snowline is high up the mountain so you normally need two or three lift rides to get up to it, there’s unlikely to be any fresh snow and the summer sun will warm the snow to unskiable stodge by early afternoon. So you need to get up early and plaster on the sunscreen. The snow freezes overnight so it’s usually hard first thing, perfect for a few hours mid-morning and then it’s time to go for a mountain bike ride or chill by the pool after lunch.

It is a fantastic feeling to be up on the slopes in summer, though, and while it will mostly be experienced skiers at this time of year, many resorts offer beginner lessons on their glacier too, so you could learn to ski in summer before going for a full-on ski holiday next winter.

Austria has the most glacier ski areas with eight to choose from, although only the Hintertux glacier tries to open every day of the year, weather permitting. The Molltal and Dachstein glaciers are also open for much of the year. Others open apart from mid-summer include the Kitzsteinhorn near Zell am See (this year open to July 21st) and the Stubai.

In France there are three areas open, mostly from mid-June to mid-August: Les 2 Alpes, Tignes and Val d’Isère.

Italy has Passo Stelvio open all summer and in mid-summer Cervinia, while Norway has three small areas – Fonna, Stryn and Galdhoppigen – open at various times.

Switzerland had a great winter with Engelberg seeing its snow base pass the 6m mark, the deepest in the world. It stays open to mid-spring, but only Zermatt, with Europe’s highest lifts reaching 3899m, tries to open year-round. Nearby Saas-Fee is open daily from mid-July.

Summer Skiing in North America

The US reported its wettest winter on record in 2018/19 which translates to some of the biggest snowfalls ever recorded on the country’s mountains. Many of the resorts in California reported their biggest ever February snowfalls, with one resort reporting more than 8m of snowfall that month!

As a result, several ski areas including Mammoth and Squaw Valley have announced they’re staying open to at least the US Independence Day holiday on July 4th. Other areas open to June or July include Timberline in Oregon, Arapoahoe Basin in Colorado and Whistler Blackcomb in Canada which has glacier skiing.

As with the Alps the best skiing will be before noon, and it’s important to double-check opening days before travelling as they can change at short notice.

Southern Hemisphere

If you want to really chase winter there are around 100 ski areas in the Southern Hemisphere, opening from June to October (although the snow-sure period is July to September).

These are spread over three continents providing very different experiences from the spectacular mountains made famous by the Lord of the Rings films in New Zealand, to some of the biggest resorts south of the equator in Australia, and more stunning scenery and deep powder (hopefully) in the Andes mountains of Chile and Argentina. There are even two small ski areas in southern Africa – Afriski in Lesotho and Tiffindell in South Africa itself.

Head Indoors or Dry Ski

If you really can’t do without your ski or snow fix there are now nearly 100 indoor snow centres operating on six continents around the world, some of them so big they’re larger than some of the smaller, regular outdoor ski areas.

In the UK we currently have six indoor snow centres located from Hemel Hempstead near London (The Snow Centre) to Braehead near Glasgow (Snow Factor) and there are also dozens of artificial surface “dry” ski slopes spread right across the country.

In short, if you want to go skiing today, there’s no reason why you can’t!


Click HERE for details of the UK’s indoor snow centres and dry slopes

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