Where are the best summer ski resorts to visit if you enjoy skiing and snowboarding while your friends flaunt their swimwear tans? Thermals can be left at home on hot summer days; T-shirt skiing is the way to go. Of course, not just any mountain resort will do; only those with access to the world’s largest and highest glaciers will make the cut. Wake up early for mornings spent on the snow, as the pistes and parks stay solid until about lunchtime under the blazing sun; there’s never a shortage of activities to fill the afternoons (think hikes, bike rides, and rafting if you’re not too busy, sunbathing). Is the Alps a good summer destination?
Zermatt’s Theodul Glacier is Europe’s largest summer ski area, standing at 3820m above sea level (21km). This results in July skiing that is so spectacular that the North American national teams frequently train here. The runs are predominantly blues and reds and aren’t particularly steep. One of the summer schools here will completely remodel your technique in a few mornings if you let them. On the Theodul, there’s an all-star cast, and Burton’s summer camp is held in Gravity Park in Plateau Rosa.
Les 2 Alps
When it comes to the attractions of L2A, the terrain parks are always at the top of the list. Toura’s Freestyle Land would keep you occupied for more than a week, but in the summer, it gives way to its bigger sibling: The Girose Glacier’s Snow Park 3200 is so large that it has three lifts, a 22-foot Olympic super pipe, and 15- and 20m big breaths of air. Fortunately, the lifts open an hour sooner than other establishments (7:15 am). You may not yet be a dedicated park rat. Still, the most astonishing thing about 3200 is that there’s a smaller beginners version for every hair-raising module and a special initiation zone to help you get started.
The Kitzsteinhorn Glacier is located immediately above picturesque Kaprun, which boasts world-class snow conditions thanks to its elevation of 3029m above sea level. You can be on the glacier’s 15km open slopes in minutes by taking the Gletscherjet cable car from town. If they let us, we’d spend all day cruising the Alpincenterabfahrt (one of several lengthy blues). Still, we wouldn’t want to miss the Hohe Tauern National Park Gipfelwelt 3000 viewing platform or the glacial exhibition for an eye-opening lesson in how all this ice got together. If you’re visiting during July and August, cool off in the Ice Arena, where you may get a drink from the ice bar.
The Hintertux Glacier has 18 km of designated pistes, making it Austria’s most significant and steepest summer ski area (and the only one that is open every month of the year). The Betterpark is also the first Austrian snow park to open in the autumn, attracting international freestyle stars and fans every year to show off their frontside 360s on the super pipe in the televised Hotzone TV Park Opening event. Sure, taking the 30-minute bus ride to the Gletcherbus lift takes a bit more effort than taking a gondola, but hang in there, and you’ll be rewarded.
If you’ve heard about Saas Fee’s fantastic snowfall, you’re probably aware that the Allalin Glacier is the source of the white. It’s a simple matter of hopping on the Metro Alpin Funicular or the Alpin Express cable car from the 1800m resort to reach the 3600m ski area. The 20km of red slopes here are excellent for intermediates wishing to hone their skills in a less crowded environment (with companies like the Swiss Ski School usually open to lending a professional hand). When we say the park here is pro-standard, we mean it: look out for the Saas-Fee Ride event in July if you’re in the area.