Where to ski in the Alps in September
by Fraser Wilkin, Updated: 1 September 2023
September is one of the quietest months in the Alps as far as skiing is concerned, especially early in the month when only three or four glaciers tend to be open these days. More glaciers may open later in the month, but it depends a lot on the weather and how much snow has fallen.
Indeed, good snow cover on the glaciers is far from guaranteed in September. It is, after all, the end of the summer, and if it has been a hot one (particularly a hot one following a lean winter) the lower glacial slopes can look decidedly threadbare.
At the time of writing (1 September 2023), some of the Alpine summer ski areas look like they are in reasonable shape thanks to the snow that fell in the Alps earlier this week, but this is a bit misleading. Just last week they were in a very threadbare state, following another brutal summer in the Alps which saw multiple temperature records broken, including the highest ever freezing level recorded in the Alps, at 5298m in Switzerland.
Indeed, freezing levels are set to soar in the Alps again over the next few days, with conditions on most skiable glaciers expected to quickly deteriorate.
Here are the glaciers that are currently hoping to offer skiing throughout September. Others (such as Sölden, Pitztal and Val Senales) may open later in the month depending on snow conditions...
1. Hintertux, Austria
Opening dates: 365 days per year
Hintertux (in the Austrian Tirol) can usually be relied on to serve up some of the best 'out of season' skiing in the Alps. Not only can you ski here 365 days a year, but the glacier is also steeper and more varied than most, and is a favourite venue for early season training camps.
In September you can normally expect around 18km of pistes to be open, with a top height of 3250m and a vertical drop of 600m.
This year (2023), however, only 2km of pistes are currently open due to the damage caused to the glacier by another excessively hot summer, particularly during the August heatwaves.
Looking for hotels in Hintertux? Click here
Further info: www.hintertuxergletscher.at
2. Zermatt, Switzerland
Opening dates: 365 days a year
With one of the only two glaciers in the Alps that attempt to offer skiing 365 days a year (weather-permitting), Zermatt offers extensive, but mostly very gentle, glacier skiing in a splendid setting at the foot of the Matterhorn. Up to 20km of pistes can be open in September, with a top height of 3899m and a vertical drop of 450m.
Zermatt did better than most from the storms in the Alps earlier this week, and at the time of writing (1 September 2023), is offering about 12km of runs between 3450m and 3899m - pretty much what you would normally expect at this time of year. However, the relatively decent summer skiing conditions are set to deteriorate again over the next few days, thanks to soaring freezing levels. That said, Zermatt's altitude probably makes it the best short term bet for glacier skiing this September.
Access from the Cervinia side in Italy is scheduled to remain open until 10 September 2023.
Looking for hotels in Zermatt? Click here
Further info: www.zermatt.ch
3. Saas-Fee, Switzerland
Opening dates: 15 July 2023 through until spring 2024
Saas-Fee is one of the only two serious skiing options in Switzerland in September. Zermatt may have more altitude, but the glacier at Saas-Fee offers a little bit more gradient and is another popular option for a serious pre-season work-out. Up to 20km of pistes can be open in September, with a top height of 3500m and a vertical drop of 300m.
Alongside Zermatt, Saas-Fee did better than most from the recent storms, meaning that, at the time of writing (1 September 2023) it is offering some reasonable snow conditions up on the glacier, in the very short term at least, with around 12km of runs between about 3200-3500m.
Much warmer conditions are expected to arrive over the next few days though, which will lead to a deterioration in the quality of the snow.
Looking for hotels in Saas-Fee? Click here
4. Passo Stelvio, Italy
Opening dates: 13 June to 1 November 2023
Relatively unknown Passo Stelvio, near Bormio in eastern Italy, usually offers skiing from June to November.
Easily accessible by road, the glacier here is compact but scenic, with around 20km or so of mostly gentle terrain. In September you can expect around 12km of pistes to be open, with a top height of 3450m and a vertical drop of 250m.
This September (2023), Passo Stelvio has also benefited from fresh snow earlier this week, and hopes to remain open until early November. Snow conditions are ok for now, with around 10km of pistes open between 3200-3450m. However, like everywhere else, snow quality is expected to deteriorate again next week as temperatures climb.
Further info: www.passostelvio.com
In previous years our list of "Where to ski in the Alps in September" has included Mölltal, one of Austria’s lesser known glacier areas which has, in the past, opened for most of the year - even if that means just three runs in the summer (including September), compared with up to 71km of pistes in winter. In past Septembers, you could usually expect around 5km of pistes to be open, with a top height of 3122m and a vertical drop of 300m. However, thanks to the impact of climate change, the resort's season has been contracting in recent years, often not even opening at all in summer.
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