Our top 5 Northern Hemisphere summer ski destinations
Les Deux Alpes – France’s top destination
Open 20th June – 29th August: €38.50/day
Les Deux Alpes is home to France’s best summer ski area, with no fewer than 17 lifts serving 11 pistes and the best park in the Alps. The Jandri Express whisks skiers out of town to the glacier station, from which the lifts fan upwards to 3,600m. Whilst the majority of the slopes are rated blue and best serve intermediates, beginners have a dedicated learner’s zone at the top of the Funiculaire and advanced skiers can benefit from some world class instruction and race training clinics. For freestylers the 2 Alpes Snowpark 3200 has jump lines for all levels, two halfpipes and a dedicated rail park – and as a result attracts skiers and riders from around the world. The “Cool Zone” at the base of the park is the place to watch all the action, with live DJs and a BBQ adding to the relaxed summery vibe.
Ski Club Freshtracks are running a summer trip to Les Deux Alpes between July 5th-12th, with spaces still available.
Hintertux (Austria) – 365 days of guaranteed snow
Open all summer: €41.50/day
The Hintertux Gletscher, high above the Tux Valley and the resorts of Mayrhofen and Finkenberg, offers some of the most varied summer skiing in the Alps. Around half of the area’s 60km of slopes remain open throughout the summer, with skiing between the Gefrorene Wand at 3,250m and the Tuxer Fernerhaus at 2,660m. Wide reds provide the perfect place to lay out some big carving turns and the blues off the Olperer T-bars are great for beginners looking to improve ahead of the winter. The resort’s Betterpark is one of the best summer terrain parks in the Northern Hemisphere and is home to a massive 29 features (six of which are new for 2015) including a 100m long superpipe – but take note that it is closed during August.
Zermatt/Cervinia (Switzerland/Italy) – Another 365 days of guaranteed snow
Open all summer: 79 CHF/day
The mighty Matterhorn towers over the 21km of pistes on the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise ski area, which reaches Europe’s highest lift-served point at 3,883m. A great selection of blue and red runs await, as well as Zermatt’s well received Gravity Park – packed with 36 features and accessed by the Plateau Rosa T-bars. Zermatt also attracts racers from around the world throughout the summer for training camps, so it’s highly likely you’ll be sharing a cable car with some of the world’s very best skiers. Away from the skiing the resort has [possibly] the best and widest variety of summer activities of anywhere in the Alps – ranging from golf to rafting, and mountain biking to paragliding.
Timberline (USA) – epic summer skiing on a dormant volcano
Open until 7th September: $64/day
Oregon’s first ski resort is the only ski area in North America to offer skiing in every month of the year, with this year’s summer skiing set to run through until September 7th – despite below average winter snowfall. The Magic Mile and Palmer high-speed quads access the famous Palmer Snowfield on the south face of the dormant Mt Hood volcano. It is best known for being the summer training destination for North American freestyle and race athletes, but members of the public can enjoy the slopes too. Be sure to get up early as the lifts start turning at 7am and close by 2pm – but this does leave plenty of time to relax in the sunshine with a cold beer at the end of the day. Also be aware that the ski area does not cater for beginners, with the steep volcanic slopes and big terrain parks only suitable for intermediate/advanced skiers.
Fonna (Norway) – the snowiest summer ski area
Open until 31st August: 370NOK/day
Despite only possessing one T-bar, Fonna is worthy of inclusion on this list following a record breaking winter. Snow depths of up to 12m were recorded at the top of the mountain and at parts of the access road – and the resort reported yet another powder day as recently as May 29th. A short hike takes you to some great off piste routes (highly unusual for a summer ski area), numerous race teams utilise the well-groomed slopes and the Mushroom Crew terrain park has consistently been rated amongst the best summer parks in the world. The stunning scenery and near 24-hour daylight has attracted filmmakers from around the world – including those making the epic Supervention. Check out one of the skiers in the video below, Jäsper Tjäder, on the huge jump at Fonna (2:01 minutes in) and you’ll see why it has built up its reputation as one of the best summer destinations around.