Travel Tips

The Best Summer Ski Resorts In Europe 2018

YES, we know we left out dryslopes and snowdomes...

Have you ever snowboarded in Europe in the summer? If not then it should be top of your to-do list for 2018! Whilst it necessitates an earlier start to a day snowboarding in the winter, you’ll usually finish up riding in the slush around midday and still have plenty of hours of daylight left to cram in more activities.

Summer glaciers are only too aware that their off-season offerings are never going to be world class compared to their mid-winter groomers, so will vie for your shred dollars by putting on a whole host of other options like swimming pools, skateparks, pump tracks, mountain biking, kayaking, hiking trails, paddleboarding, trampolining, luge tracks and pole-vaulting. OK, so we made that last one up, but we haven’t even got to the parks yet.

Everyone knows that park riding is more fun in the spring when the sun shines and everything softens up, so it follows that when it’s even sunnier and slushier in the summer it just gets better! Granted, your options are limited, but it’s arguable that the likes of Les Deux Alpes and Zermatt actually do a better job of park shaping come June than they do in the winter.

Need more convincing? This classic piece of penmanship by Chris Moran on the joys of slush should do the trick, but for now let’s just crack on with finding out where you can snowboard in Europe this summer, and which destination is thew best.

“Everyone knows that park riding is more fun in the spring when the sun shines and everything softens up, so it follows that when it’s even sunnier and slushier in the summer it just gets better!”

DISCLAIMER: Yes, WE KNOW we’ve left out dryslopes and snowdomes. C’mon, most of the current Whitelines staff line up cut their teeth and skinned their elbows on Snowflex, but as these aren’t exactly seasonal by definition we’ve focused just on glacier snowboarding.

Tigne’s Grand Motte gondola reaches up to over 3000m. Photo: Andy Parant

Best Value: Tignes, France

Opens: 23/6/2018
Closes: 5/8/2018
A Day Pass Costs: €25
Snow Park: Yes

Compared to the cost of other resorts on this list, €25 a day for the Grande Motte glacier is a snip by itself, but if you book accommodation in most places in Tignes you’ll also be entitled to free mountain biking, archery, a ski jump into the lake, paddleboarding, pedalos, trampolines, tennis… It’s hard to argue with that!

The glacier itself has a number of decent runs from 3032 metres as well as a snowpark that, whilst it isn’t world class, will do the job if you’re after some kicker hits and a few rails to scratch that summer freestyle itch.

Zermatt’s summer snowpark, a thing of beauty

Best Summer Snowpark: Zermatt, Switzerland

Opens: 23/4/2018
Closes: 31/10/2018
A Day Pass Costs: 83CHF
Snow Park: Yes

One of two ski resorts in Europe still open 365 days a year, Zermatt has a lot going for it, even if the prices can be eye-watering for any non-Swiss/Russian oligarchs queuing for a day pass. However, if 2017 was anything to go by, the 83CHF entrance fee (€71.32 in today’s change) could very well be worth it this summer.

The current park crew puts in the work on the Plateau Rosa, and it’s almost criminal that the pros jet off around the globe come summer whilst there’s this level of shaping being done in Europe. Last year saw multiple rail and jump options as well as Holy Bowly-style berms, banks and bowls cut everywhere in between. Get saving!

Miles of well-maintained pistes means there’s no better place to take advantage of a rare summer pow day

Best Summer Pistes: Hintertux, Austria

Opens: 12/5/2018
Closes: 12/10/2018
A Day Pass Costs: €45
Snow Park: No

If you’re not fussed about having a snowpark to hand, it’s fair to assume that a few extra miles of well-groomed piste would be appreciated in return. Though Hintertux’s Betterpark is sadly missed in the summer months, there can be up to ten lifts servicing 20km of groomers, all maintained with steely Austrian precision.

There’s a good variety of pistes and cat tracks, ranging from steep-as-fuck-icy-death-slopes (the run straight off Gletscherbus 3 is a gnarly way to start your day) to mellow, winding tracks over the glacier. There’s not a whole lot to do in the valley once you’re down for the day, but Innsbruck and Mayrhofen are both a short drive away for some evening fun.

Valerian Ducourtil knows a thing or two about Les Deux Alpes. And Parties. Photo: Matt Georges

Best Parties: Les Deux Alpes, France

Opens: 23/6/2018
Closes: 26/8/2018
A Day Pass Costs: €40.90 (1/2 day snow park pass €32.70)
Snow Park: Yes

Armed with some decent kickers, a whole host of rails and a burgeoning scene packed full of riders, Les Deux Alpes is as vibrant a place to ride during the summer as it is in the winter. There’s an amazing new pump track at the bottom of the main gondola to complement the fairly battered skate park, so the shred doesn’t end when the park shuts and you download.

This means that the good times have had a tendency to keep rolling every time we’ve visited L2A, and the huge variety of bars and restaurants on the strip give have given us plenty of excuses to be late up for the next day’s schralp. Nothing for it than to crack into that new slab of stubbies then.

Best Scenery: Folgefonna, Norway

Opens: 10/5/2018
Closes: Snow conditions permitting, but usually October
A Day Pass Costs: 395 NOK (~€42)
Snow Park: Yes

Norway’s wilderness is some of the most striking scenery on earth, and with the summer sun only dipping below the horizon for a few hours a day, it’s hard to find a time where the light isn’t simply gorgeous. The shapers there know this better than anyone, and Fonna’s sunset kicker sessions are legendary, and deservedly so.

During the day the parks (overseen by the Mushroom Crew) are also world-class and definitely contend for the top spot for European summertime freestyle facilities. But whilst the jibs might be what bring you here, it’s those vistas that will keep you coming back!

Backdoor access to Snow Park Plateau Rosa

Cervinia, Italy

Opens: 29/6/2018
Closes: 9/9/2018
A Day Pass Costs: €32.50 (€44.50 including Zermatt)
Snow Park: No

Whilst it’s not open all year round like its Swiss sister resort Zermatt, Cervinia does offer a cheeky backdoor pass to the best summer park in Europe already described above. We’re not sure how it can happen, but if you stay on the side of the border that has nicer pizza and espressos, you appear to be able to get access to the same terrain (if the link is open) for almost half the price. Preggo!

At least there’s no Folie Douce in the summer

Val D’Isere, France – Now Closed

Opens: 3/6/2018
Closes: 13/7/2018
A Day Pass Costs: €28
Snow Park: No

At the time of writing, Val D’Isere has some of its lower winter slopes open for the first time in decades due to a bumper snowfall during the winter just gone. Whilst the summer season is significantly shorter and the amenities fall short of neighboring Tignes, if you’re already a fan of the town in winter this year could be the best time to try it out in the summer.

Late summer or early winter? It’s all the same in Saas Fee. Anttii up. Photo: Matt Georges

Saas Fee, Switzerland

Opens: 14/7/2018
Closes: 31/10/2018
A Day Pass Costs: 84CHF
Snow Park: Yes

Just a stone’s throw away from Zermatt, the eerily-titled Free Republic of Holidays Saas-Fee might sound like a good destination of the next US/DPRK summit, but Davos usually wins the bidding process for dodgy conferences. Nethertheless, Saas plays host to a freestyle mecca of fun, with a progressive park during the summer that evolves into the now-legendary Stomping Grounds. Pricey though.

Now the snow park is gone, this is the most exciting photo the Kitzsteinhorn tourist board could provide

Kitzsteinhorn, Austria – Now Closed

Opens: 14/5/2018
Closes: 22/7/2018
A Day Pass Costs: €48
Snow Park: No

Sadly, it no longer has a snow park set up in the summer, but Kitzsteinhorn still keeps its slopes open until late-July before re-vamping everything for the summer. Whilst it might not be worth a trip over in itself, lingering Austrian seasonaires might appreciate a change of scenery come June.

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