Complete guide to summer skiing in the Alps
by Fraser Wilkin, 19 May 2015
There are dozens of Alpine glaciers where it is possible to ski outside the main winter season. However, only a handful of them are actually open in high summer.
Here is the complete list of Alpine resorts that offer “proper” summer skiing – where it is possible to ski between June and August.
Opening dates: 365 days a year!
Hintertux offers arguably the best summer skiing in the Alps. It is certainly one of the most reliable areas for snow, open 365 days a year and less prone to bad weather than Zermatt - the only other resort that even comes close to attempting year-round skiing. It also offers steeper terrain than most glaciers, making it very popular with race training camps.
In high summer expect to find around 22km of pistes served by nine lifts.
Opening dates: 20 June 2015 through to spring 2016
Located in the province of Carinthia, the Mölltal glacier is Austria’s most southerly summer ski area.
Open most of the year round (it only closes for short period in the spring) the area is limited to three pistes (about 3km) in high summer.
Opening dates: From now until 3 July 2015
Early in the summer ski season, Stubai offers some of the most extensive and varied glacier skiing in the Alps, with a vertical drop of some 900m down to the mid-station at Fernau.
How much terrain is available towards the end of June/early July is highly dependent on snow conditions, but typically at least a couple of long (by summer standards) runs are still possible to Gamsgarten (2600m).
Opening dates: From 14 May 2015 as long as snow conditions permit (typically early July)
One of the lesser known summer ski options (to the UK market at least) the Dachstein glacier in the eastern Austrian Alps offers a small area of mostly gentle runs with a modest top height of 2700m.
Not surprisingly, summer snow conditions are somewhat unpredictable (there is no fixed closing date) but in a good year it is possible to ski into the middle of summer.
Les 2 Alpes
Opening dates: 20 June to 29 August 2015
Les 2 Alpes offers the largest and most varied summer ski scene in France.
The disadvantage (compared with its main French rival Tignes) is that the glacier takes a long time to reach – around 40 minutes from base.
Once up there though, you have access to the largest skiable glacier in the Alps with 11 (mostly easy) runs and an impressive 770m vertical available between 2800m and 3570m (Dôme de la Lauze).
Opening dates: 27 June to 9 August 2015
Tignes is one of only three resorts in France that still guarantees skiing in summer.
Summer skiing takes place on the Grand Motte glacier, reached in a matter of minutes via a high-speed underground funicular from Tignes Val Claret.
From 27 June 2015, four lifts are scheduled to open – the funicular, the cable-car, the Vanoise and the Rosolin chairlifts. Then from 4 July to 9 August 2015, further surface lifts on the glacier are scheduled to open, offering 20km of pistes with a vertical of about 500m.
Opening dates: 6 June to 12 July 2015
Val d’Isère has the most limited terrain and shortest season of France’s three summer skiing options.
Depending on snow conditions you can sometimes ski down to the Col d’Iseran but, most of the time (especially towards the end of the summer season) you are confined to a couple of short, easy runs on the Pissaillas glacier.
Opening dates: 27 June to 6 September 2015
Cervinia is one of just two Italian resorts to offer skiing in the middle of summer - the other being Passo Stelvio near Bormio.
The area is shared with Zermatt, and most of the skiing takes place on the Swiss side of the border, where you will find around 21km of wide open, mostly easy pistes.
Opening dates: 30 May to 6 November 2015
One of the more underrated summer ski areas in the Alps, Passo Stelvio offers around 20km of wide open, mostly gentle pistes between 2758m and 3450m.
The main glacier is accessed by cable-cars from the Passo Stelvio pass, about 40 minutes drive from Bormio, and keeps its snow in better nick than most on this list.
Opening dates: All year round (though with some disruption in spring for maintenance)
Zermatt (combined with Cervinia) offers one of the largest summer ski areas in the Alps. It also has the highest piste (3899m) and the longest vertical - nearly 1000m down to Trockener Steg in good snow - though this can shorten considerably in poor years and/or later in the season.
In high summer expect to find around 21km of wide open, mostly easy runs.
Opening dates: 19 July 2015 to late April 2016
Saas-Fee is one of just two Swiss resorts that still offers skiing in high summer.
Expect around 20km of open pistes, with a shorter vertical drop but more variety and challenge than in Zermatt.