Summer ski areas (part 1/3) – Glacier skiing in the Alps

06/27/2013 - Selina Sauerland

The skiing season is over!? Not everywhere!

For all those who can’t bear the thought of leaving the skis to dust up in the cellar and who don’t want to miss heaps of new snow, they can profit from all those areas around the world where the ski lifts have not yet closed. Be it the Alps, North America or South America, or even on the other side of the Earth in New Zealand or Australia – every area has its own charm and is worth the visit. We have put together a selection of attractive ski areas for summer skiing. The first part covers seven glacier ski areas in the Alps, which keep their gates open for summer skiers.

Glacier ski areas in the Alps

France, Austria or Switzerland – these three Alpine countries could hardly be more different from each other, however they do have one thing in common: skiing in summer is possible here. At least in some of the ski areas.

France

Tignes – a superlative ski resort in the French Alps. The Espace Killy is not only attractive for the pros who come here to train. The ski area at the Vanoise Massif is also so popular with winter sports enthusiasts, as you can actually ski here for nearly 10 months per year. Great snow is almost guaranteed with altitudes up to 3,456 m. The pistes on the Grande Motte glacier open from the 15th of June until the 4th of August 2013. From 7:15 a.m. until 1 p.m. all winter sports fans can enjoy the range of blue, red and black pistes. Snowboarders and freestyle fans will also feel welcome here. The glacier snow park offers a half-pipe, rails and obstacles, lots of diversity and leaves no wished unfulfilled. Reaching the ski area via the underground cable car is a first highlight at the beginning of the day on the glacier.

Besides Tignes, Les Deux Alpes also offers the possibility to swap the hiking shoes for ski boots from the 22nd of June until the 31st of August 2013. The lifts in one of Europe’s largest summer ski resorts are open between 7:15 a.m. and 12:30 a.m. and take you up to the Mont-de-Lans glacier. On the sunny pistes up 3,566 m altitude you can currently find 245 cm of snow and therefore really enjoy skiing to the fullest. Besides the normal pistes there is also one of the best snow parks in Europe to be found here. A 120 m long and 4.5 m high half-pipe, many rails and a Cool Zone are the perfect place to be for all fans of jumps, tricks and spectacular rides.

Switzerland

Switzerland has no need to hind behind its neighbours when it come to summer skiing. With Saas-Fee and Zermatt there are already two resorts located in the canton Valais.

Surrounded by 18 different 4,000-metre peaks, the Saas Valley is already worth a visit and provides a breath-taking panorama view. From the 27th of July until the end of October 2013 the Metro Alpin tunnel lift takes you to the Allalin glacier, one of these high peaks, to ski. However the motto here is: the early bird catches the worm! The lifts may be open between 7:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., but getting there takes already one whole hour. Getting up early therefore is surely worth it to make the most of the skiing day. 20 km of red pistes and continuously re-shaped snow park compensate for the “short” night. For those who can’t ski or don’t feel like challenging the half-pipe, rails and boxes, can hang out in the spacious Chill-Out Zone with music and the local glacier restaurant and enjoy the weather and the view of the other skiers and boarders.

Sheer 38 different 4,000-metre peaks surround the region Zermatt-Matterhorn, located in the heart of the Valais Alps. That is quite a landmark, not only in winter! From the 29th of June until the 8th of September 2013 the motto here is: on your skis, get ready, go! From Zermatt/Winkelmatten you can take the gondola directly to Trockener Steg and from there the next gondola ascends up to 3,820 m altitude. This point is the highest located gondola station in Europe and from here you start into 25 km of piste fun. You are constantly surrounded by a magnificent view including the loveliest Alpine mountain: the Matterhorn. The lifts open at 7 a.m. and therefore also provide the option to ski down to Cervinia in lovely Italy.  With currently 5 cm of fresh snow, this is pure enjoyment.

Austria

Be it Salzburger Land, Styria or Tyrol, Austria also has a number of summer ski areas to choose from, some of them are even open 365 days a year! There are not too many of those around worldwide…

At the Kitzsteinhorn, just above the resort Kaprun in the Salzburger Land, the pistes open from the 22nd of July 2013. They remain open until approx. the middle of September. The resort became popular as the first glacier ski area in Austria and is especially liked by all wallowers and relaxation seekers. 20 cm of fresh snow however, do not only attract the easy skiers… The snow park also remains open continuously, however is shaped daily only until the end of May and the from October again.

In Hintertux, in the lovely Ziller Valley, skiing is possible on 365 days a year. Therefore the Hintertux glacier is the only all-year-round ski area in Austria. 22 km of piste up to 3,200 m altitude lets every skiers heart beat faster, and especially those who like steep slopes. Due to the current snow conditions (305 cm depth) you can ski right down to the “Tuxer Fernerhaus”. In the snow park all freestyle fans will find what they are looking for on half-pipe, many boxes, table tops and rails. The motto here: higher, faster, further – anything goes!

The Dachstein glacier in Styria may not be described as an all-year-round ski area, but it is open for 11 months per year. With re-opening of the Dachstein-Panorama-Gondola the skiing season in Ramsau am Dachstein begun anew on the 18 of May 2013. 18 km of prepared pistes and the “Horsefeather Superpark” invite all skiers and boarders to be active between 7:50 a.m. and 4:50 p.m. So you can enjoy a full day’s skiing here. With approx. 270 cm of snow it is really worth staying the whole day. The biathlon and cross-country training centre is also very popular with international sports pros. You should always keep an eye open for the one or the other sports celebrity on the pistes….. A good alternative to skiing are surely the Dachstein Skywalk, the Dachstein Eispalast and the glacier restaurant. These three visits should definitively be on your to-do list for the Dachstein glacier.

– To be continued –

  • Thursday, 27. June 2013
  • author: Selina Sauerland
  • category: Ski Areas
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