I just came back from my first snowboarding trip of the season. November is the earliest in the year I’ve ever started. But there are actually places where you can ski/snowboard all year round! Even though you might not be in the mood to strap on your winter gear in August, it’s still good to know where to head for a little winter fun at any time of the year, just in case.
Most glaciers stay snow-capped from January till December, thanks to their height of at least 3,000 m (9,840 ft). And the snow on glaciers is just as pleasant as in the lower mountain range during winter time. You’re skiing on actual snow, not just on a layer of ice.
There’s no need to think of skiing on glaciers as inacessible and for the rich only! In many places, you can base yourself in a nice village nearby and get a ride on a local bus right to the foot of a glacier of your choosing. You then simply take several lifts up the mountain and, from a warm valley, you suddenly find yourself on a white snowy mountain! Pretty wild, huh!
Glaciers In North America
In North America, you can ski on glaciers in both the US and Canada. If you’re in Canada, head to Whistler Blackcomb. In the United States, there are two resorts that feature a glacier skiable almost all year round: Timberline Lodge, located on Mount Hood, Oregon and The Glacier National Park in Montana, which is rather challenging and recommended only for advanced, adrenalin-seeking skiers.
Glaciers in Europe
In Europe, all the glaciers are basically parts of the Alps that span across 4 countries. You’ll find superb resorts in Austria, Switzerland, France and Italy. They differ by price range, as well as by shape of slopes etc. Of course, not everyone can afford skiing in Switzerland, but most other resorts are more accessible. If you find yourself in Europe and are wanting the glacier experience, just head to the nearest one.
Here’s a map of the main resorts:
I’ve been to Hintertux in Austria twice, and that’s been my only glacier experience so far. Hintertux Glacier, or Hintertuxer Gletscher, as it’s called properly in German, reaches a height of up to 3,250 m (10,660 ft) and it’s easily accessible from the village of the same name – you just take a few lifts and you’re at the top in no time. What’s more, if you are on an especially low budget, you can stay in any village as far as 30 min drive away and you‘ll always have at least one bus per hour that takes you straight to the foot of the mountain.
Generally speaking, hitting the glaciers is actually better outside the full winter season. If the snow conditions are good enough at lower levels of the mountain, then you can imagine how it looks at the very top. The real winter on a glacier can be really harsh and might put off even the most resilient skiers. Plus, it doesn’t help if most lifts are not running, as it often happens.
So if you want to start your winter sporting season early (or finish late), aim high and head to a glacier!
Have you ever been on a glacier? Tell us about your experience..!