It’s a mistake to think of snowboarding and skiing as just “winter sports.” If you’re willing to open your mind and work for it, shredding need not be jailed between December and April. It can, and in fact should be, a year-round pursuit.
International travelers can get their powder fix all summer long, simply by switching hemispheres and chasing mid-winter mayhem in Chile, Argentina, and New Zealand.
For committed shredders in the United States, slushy summer skiing is just a road trip away. Following a wild winter here on our home soil, resorts in California, Colorado, and Oregon are primed for extended seasons.
For some skiers and snowboarders, sure, the action is seasonally dependent. For others, it’s a year-round addiction, and chasing that shred-induced adrenaline is non-negotiable. Whether you’re looking for a southern hemisphere pow trip of a lifetime or you’re just hoping to get a couple slushy turns in on the 4th of July, this Active Junky guide will enable you to pick the perfect ski destination for the summer of 2017.
Thanks to jaw-dropping storm totals this winter, Squaw Valley is pushed their closing date back to the 4th of July. The only thing better than enjoying fireworks over the cobalt blue expanse of Lake Tahoe? Skiing in a Hawaiian shirt all day long leading up to the festivities. As of late April, Squaw’s looking at a 251-inch base, with a season total of 714 inches. Just to be clear, in 2014-15, they received a meager 223-inches—total.
So-Cal rippers who aren’t looking to venture all the way to Squaw can get a mid-summer taste of winter at Mammoth Mountain. While Mammoth hasn’t been blessed with Squaw’s legendary snow totals, they’re close on the Tahoe mountain’s tail, and they’ve been treated to dump after dump all winter long. Mid-spring, they were looking at a 610-inch season total. Spring conditions—perhaps with the occasional late-season pow day—will be on the menu at Mammoth until hopefully the 4th of July as well.
The Rockies haven’t clocked blizzard after bludgeoning blizzard like our western neighbors in the Sierras have. However, Colorado skiers can speed down Arapahoe Basin’s celebrated steeps until June 4, 2017. Granted, the skiing at A-Basin might realistically be a strip or two of scraped-together snow down the frontside of the resort come late May and early June. That said, summer shredding at A-Basin is a favorite Colorado pastime—the “Beach,” as it’s known, is a favorable swath of parking lot at the base of the mountain that sees everyone from college students to families grilling out, tapping kegs of Colorado micro-brews, and enjoying the sun. It’s definitely a scene worth checking out if you have the opportunity.
Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood
No place in the United States is at the heart of summer skiing like Mt. Hood. A cluster of ski and snowboard camps draw aspiring racers and freestyle athletes by the flock to this utopian slice of Oregon. You don’t have to attend one of the camps, although they do have world-class terrain parks and exclusive access to some of the more exciting terrain. That said, the cheapest way to enjoy Mt. Hood is to camp nearby and cruise up to the mountain to get your fix. Some more adventurous folks will have interest in treating the upper mountain as a ski mountaineering objective. However you decide to enjoy Mt. Hood, there’s nothing quite like skiing in a t-shirt in the morning and going for a kayak or a mountain bike ride in the afternoon.
Whistler has long been a haven for year-round skiers due to its consistently deep glacial snowpack and its ease of access. An hour and a half drive away from Vancouver, British Columbia’s most popping metropolis, is the powder-hound’s paradise of Whistler Blackcomb. While the main resort shuts down in May, glacier skiing is open from June 10th to July 16th. This destination is not for beginners: skiers and riders are expected to be advanced at a minimum, as the terrain can be difficult and there are no chairlifts running, only T-bars.
Chile’s extensive infrastructure makes travel fairly headache-free, especially when compared to many other South American nations. The not-so-secret ingredient to Chile’s magical potion is the majestic range of the Andes, the spiny backbone of this spectacular continent, which runs tip to tip down this sliver of a country. Valle Nevado, an enormous resort with mouthwatering sidecountry potential, is close enough to Santiago for a day trip. Further still is another favorite, Portillo, which is just under 2.5 hours away from the capital city, and merits at least a few days of skiing and exploring.
Chilean Volcano Skiing:
For those who aren’t crazy about lift-serviced terrain, check out this trip with Pacific Alpine Guides. Over the course of 11 days, you will attempt to climb and ski four of Chile’s most breath-taking volcanos, including Villarica, Osorno, Lonquimay, and Llaima.
Argentina sings to North American skiers like a siren to sailors. For those ready to drop some dough and answer the call, there are a couple noteworthy options. Just east of the Chilean border, Las Leñas serves up nearly 4K feet of vertical gain and ample backcountry access for those looking to get a bit more extreme. Aside from the high-quality of skiing accessible at Las Leñas, the Argentinian resort town has a great vibe, with a pulsing nightlife scene and tasty restaurants. In the renowned Lake District, Bariloche is the place to be. The town happens to be a hotbed for Argentinean artisan chocolate production, though the main draw is easy access to ski resorts like Cerro Catedral.
The Alps are as high in elevation as they are high on every skier’s bucket list. Les Deux Alpes is a preferred destination, namely for freestyle-oriented skiers and riders. While many resorts struggle to build even an average halfpipe in mid-winter, this French freestyle haven shapes a pristine superpipe—in the summer. Rails, boxes, tables, jumps, and even an airbag are available to the brave and bold. The 2017 summer ski season is in play from June 24th to September 2nd, though the resort is only running from 7:15 AM to 12:30 PM. In the afternoons, the sun turns the snow into a pond skim, so better to get after it early and then enjoy a hike, mountain bike ride, or a mellow afternoon in one of the small, archetypical European ski towns nearby.
No matter what day you head to the Austrian resort of Hintertux, you’ll be able to shred. That’s right, this glacial peak is open year-round. That’s 365 days of Alp-induced adrenaline. Some of the steepest terrain offerings in the northern hemisphere means that many a race camp makes this glacier their home base.
After Chile and Argentina, New Zealand is perhaps your best bet for scoring actual powder conditions mid-summer. Cardrona Alpine Resort is a top choice: it’s got terrain varying from family-friendly to experts-only, potential for excellent snow conditions, and a park that headquarters the Kiwis’ Olympic freestyle team. For those looking for a gateway into New Zealand’s lauded backcountry, Treble Cone is an excellent shot. Stay in the lakeside ski town of Wanaka and you’ll have easy access to both of these top tier resorts.
Wherever you decide to ride, we salute you for refusing to let cobwebs collect on your shred equipment. Get after it, and we’ll see you out there this summer!