What Is Glacier Skiing?

by Frank V. Persall

If you’re an avid skier, it is likely that you won’t want to limit your ski adventures to only the winter months. The ability to do all-season skiing is hugely appealing to many ski enthusiasts, but it is important to make sure that you find the right type of skiing. For example, glacier skiing; but wait, what is glacier skiing?

While you might be lulled into thinking that this type of skiing means donning your skis on the ice, this isn’t exactly correct. Instead, this form of skiing is done on the high glaciers of the mountain when the weather is warmer. These high altitude ski areas are much colder and as such, there is always a good layer of fresh snow to ski on. 

While you may think that about covers it, there is a lot more to learn about this type of summer skiing. If you’re looking to get your teeth into a new activity on your ski holiday, then this could be for you. Let’s take a look at what to expect when you glacier ski and explore some of the best ski resorts where you can get involved in the action. 

This Male Glacier Skier On The Slopes
This Male Glacier Skier On The Slopes

 An Introduction To Glacier Skiing

If you love to ski, then it can be frustrating to have to hang up your skis at the end of the winter skiing season and wait for your next ski holiday. But there is a ray of hope; skiing glaciers, sometimes called summer skiing allows you to get on the slopes no matter what time of year it may be. This form of skiing doesn’t take place on raw ice, as you might imagine but instead happens on the mountain glaciers which sit at a high altitude compared to other ski areas.

At the top of the mountains, there is a lot of ground ice and this means that the snow cannot melt as easily. Even when temperatures are soaring at the base of the mountain, up here, things stay very chilly. This allows skiers to engage in a spot of summer skiing, keeping their skills honed and of course, providing them with an incredible amount of fun!

Quick Note Title
While you will be able to ski on fresh snow on your summer holiday, there are some downsides to this type of skiing. Primarily, you must keep in mind that glacier ski resorts are littered with massive crevasses. While these are still there in the winter, they are often covered in such thick layers of snow that you can ski right over them without noticing. However, in the summer months, they are a lot more visible and potentially very dangerous. 

However, most ski resorts will place ropes around these crevasses letting skiers know where it is not safe. It is vital that you pay attention to these. 

In addition to this, it is important to keep in mind that the ski area is typically a lot higher up than those you would ski on during winter. This means that there is more of a chance of altitude sickness, dehydration, and exhaustion. Furthermore, you should keep in mind that the glare from the sun will be much more intense, and applying sunscreen regularly is important. 

Top 5 Glacier Ski Resorts

You’ll find a multitude of glacier ski resorts around Europe so whether you want to try glacier skiing in France or head out to the Swiss Alps, there is plenty to choose from. However, these are considered to be five of the best.

1. Zermatt, Switzerland

Zermatt, Switzerland
Zermatt, Switzerland
Zermatt, Switzerland

If you want to go above and beyond, literally, then Zermatt is the best place for glacier skiing in Switzerland and perhaps even in Europe. This area is home to the highest ski peak in Europe which sits at an impressive 3883 metres above sea level. From the top, ski enthusiasts are treated to incredible 360º views across the Swiss Alps, not to mention the chance to attend the Glacier Paradise where you will find a cinema, bar, and many other places to relax. 

Further down the mountain, after you have enjoyed the views that span a whopping 38 peaks, you might want to try out some of the hiking or biking trails to finish your summer ski holiday.

2. Les Deux Alps, France

Les Deux Alps, France
Les Deux Alps, France

Every year, ski enthusiasts flock to Les Deux Alpes for the guaranteed snow on the 3600 metre glacier that offers incredible views across the mountains. Skiing is available from June between 8am and 12.30am. When you have finished on the slopes, there is plenty more to do giving you the opportunity to spend an afternoon relaxing in style at the resort. 

Les Deux Alps also caters to beginners and has a selection of ski tutors and lessons allowing you to get to grips before trying out those dizzying heights.

3. Hintertux, Austria

Hintertux, Austria
Hintertux, Austria
Hintertux, Austria

Moving across to Austria, we find the Hintertux ski resort which offers year-round skiing including the option to ski on the glacier between June and August. This is the only place where you can summer ski in the country and so, as you can imagine, is incredibly popular. 

The glacier rises into the sky to an impressive 3250 meters and once you’ve had enough, which we find hard to believe would ever happen, the resort has a lot to offer in terms of food and entertainment.

4. Stubai, Austria

Stubai, Austria
Stubai, Austria
Stubai, Austria

If you are looking to ski in an impressively large skiing area then there aren’t many other places that will beat Stubai. This is the biggest skiing area in Austria and with the Stubai glacier, you won’t be disappointed when it comes to summer ski time. 

The resort offers 36 downhill slopes reaching up to 3000 meters. These are accessed by a series of 26 lifts and cable cars that reward users with stunning views over the local area. Each of the slopes is designed for varying abilities so regardless of your previous experience, everyone can get in on the action.

5. Alpe d'Huez, France

Alpe D'Huez, France
Alpe D'Huez, France
Alpe D'Huez, France

France is one of the most renowned countries when it comes to skiing and you won’t be disappointed when you ski at the Alpe d’Huez all-inclusive resort. The whole place has a luxurious vibe and the opportunity to glacier ski is right on your doorstep. 

The resort is based around the Sarenne glacier and offers skiing between the months of June and August. At the highest point, you can ski at 3330 meters above sea level, giving you excellent views. Once you have finished on the slopes, there is much to keep you occupied including swimming, sunbathing, and fine outdoor dining - what a contrast!

Summary

Glacier skiing is an exciting opportunity to get out onto the slopes even during the summer months. When asked what is glacier skiing A lot of people are mistaken thinking that you won’t ski on snow but on ice. In reality, the ice is under the snow meaning that it has a hard time melting, even in the sun. 

Europe is filled with many resorts that offer this type of skiing. If you’re planning to head off on an adventure, then be sure to check that you have covered all of your ski essentials before you go. And of course, remember to stay safe; skiing in summer comes with its hazards and it always pays to be mindful.

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About Frank V. Persall

Originally from the UK, Frank has a passion for skiing and anything snow related. He is currently on a never ending mission to visit the best ski resorts across the USA and the the World. Frank is happiest when he is on ski slopes with his wife and three children.

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