Most of us enjoy skiing throughout the winter and when the season is over, we feel we have to wait another year before skiing again. Well, pack your designer thermals now as we have put together some top glacier ski areas in the Alps that you can visit during the summer.
Skiing throughout summer
There are a number of resorts in Europe that are open for snowsports in the summer months, and while some of these are quite small, there are larger glacier areas used by national alpine race teams and freestyle skiers and snowboarders, as well as keen recreational skiers.
In spring and early summer, the accumulated snow from the previous winter influences the quality of the skiing and the amount of terrain available, while late summer and autumn can see fresh snow falling at the higher elevations.
The quality of snow can vary hugely throughout the day in summer, with overnight freezing creating firm and fast conditions in the morning, with snow becoming soft and slushy later in the day.
While the number of skiers and snowboarders on the mountain is very small compared to the winter, summer glacier skiing can offer excellent conditions for learning, or for taking part in skill development courses and camps. This gives you the chance to put on your ski thermals and save time queuing for the lifts.
Summer skiing locations
At the top of the Ziller Valley, up the road from the popular resort of Mayrhofen, Hintertuxer Gletscher is open year round. The never-ending season, combined with fairly extensive terrain makes it perhaps the most well-known glacier ski area in Europe. Even in the middle of summer skiing is usually possible from 3250m down to 2600m. The nearest airport is Innsbruck (90km).
The glacier at Kaprun is open at certain times during the summer, as well as the autumn. The Zell am See – Kaprun area is a popular destination in the summer for its alpine hiking and watersports too. Though smaller than other Austrian glaciers there is a good variety of terrain. The closest airport is Salzburg (100km).
The closest glacier ski area to Innsbruck airport (43km), Stubai is open until early July, then again in September once the warmest summer months are over. It’s proximity to Innsbruck and reasonably large skiing area makes it a popular choice for summer skiing.
Les 2 Alpes, France
The Grande Motte glacier at Tignes is open for most of the summer and offers a good variety of summer skiing. The glacier is accessed by the funicular from Val Claret which takes around 7 minutes. The glacier is only open to the public in the morning, which helps to preserve the snow cover. Across in Val d’Isère, the Pissaillas glacier opens for a short summer season in June and July, dependent on snow cover.
Les Deux Alpes, France
The largest skiable glacier in the French Alps, Les Deux Alpes is home to an impressive snow park and excellent terrain for beginners. Most of the runs in the summer are blue runs but there are a few reds available too. Grenoble (70km) is the nearest airport to Les Deux Alpes.
Presena Glacier, Italy
The Presena Glacier at Passo del Tonale is set amongst spectacular peaks between the Brenta Dolomites and the Ortler Group, though transfer times are longer than for many glacier areas (130km to Milan Bergamo and 180km to Verona). 500m of vertical is served by only a handful of lifts.
Val Senales, Italy
Close to the popular spa resort town of Meran, the glacier at Val Senales is open throughout the summer season for snow sports. It’s only a small glacier but has an interesting variety of runs available, plus the Nitro snow park. It’s quite remote – the nearest airport is Innsbruck which is around 190km.
The Plateau Rosa glacier at Cervinia is one of the smaller Italian glaciers. The terrain available is fairly limited but does connect to the glacier area at neighbouring Zermatt. The nearest airport is Turin (120km)
You have never needed an excuse to treat yourself to more designer ski thermals but if you did need one then a summer skiing holiday could be the one you need.