As the snow begins to turn into slush and skiers and riders start to plan what costume they will wear this year to their resorts pond skim, I notice our fellow snow sliders shifting into two distinct camps: The 1. “thank god summer is nearly hear I can’t wait to _______ (insert sport that DOES NOT involve skiing or snowboarding in the slightest, such as mountain biking or rafting)” or the #2 “what the f*@% am I going to do with myself for six months!” group.
For the latter, and may I say rare few, have no fear, I come bearing numerous options to tickle your fancy when it comes to chasing the coveted “never summer”.
The following destinations are a culmination of places I have either visited myself or spoken to about in detail with fellow friends, instructors or competitors who have been to these snowy locales.
1. South America
Wether you venture to Chile or Argentina, there are many spots to chose from if you are looking to make turns year round. According to Argentinian local, and year-round ski instructor, Frankie Zampini, since Chile is situated at a higher elevation it has resorts all above tree line and receives a dry snow fall. Only a few hours from Santiago are the three valleys of Valle Nevado, El Colorado and La Parva.
Argentina, on the other hand, is lower in elevation and receives a wetter snowfall but does have tree skiing if that is your thing. Argentina is home to three major ski regions; Mendoza, Patagonia-The Lake District and Ushuaia. Be sure to check out resorts like Las Leñas, Portillo, Cerro Catedral. Wherever you do wind up there are plenty of options for touring and back country excursions all while having the magical Andes mountains as a backdrop.
While many folks often associate Australia with warm beaches, surfing and a ton of poisonous critters, there are quite a few options for those looking to surf the snow. Perisher, one of Australias most well-known resorts, boasts 3,080 acres of skiable terrain and can ski for free with your Epic Pass. Thredbo, has impressive vertical and the country’s highest skiable point (6,683 feet).
If steep is what you are after, check out Mt. Hotham. Located in the Victorian Alps, Mt. Hotham is known as the “powder capitol of Australia” and is home to some of Australias most challenging terrain. While speaking with friend and fellow year- round instructor, John Balmain, about what snow conditions to expect he said they can either be “very good, very average, or very poor…all in the same month.” If you happen to be there at a time when the resorts are in need of some snow you can always head over to the relaxed surf town of Noosa and catch some waves while you wait for conditions to improve.
3. Mt. Hood, Oregon
If you are not looking to travel outside of the U.S., then Mt. Hood, Oregon is the perfect place for you. (One of the top places to live and ski out west) Located on top of a glacier, you can find skiing and riding all summer long. According to Freeride World Tour Qualifier, Erika Vikander, Mt. Hood is the “ultimate winter-summer adventure place”. At Hood you can shred all day long and then head down to the lake to go for a swim and chill.
According to many that have spent summers in Hood, housing seems to be optional as you will find many ski bums living out of tents in the woods. If you are going to do that though just be respectful and leave no trace, as litter and other undesirables things have been left behind causing a riff amongst the locals. There is plenty of terrain park riding to be had with three big spots to check out. Windells and High Camp are two rad shred camps to check out if you have the funds and want to seriously step up your park game. If camp is not your thing be sure to check out the public park as I hear is well maintained and is always full of a steady stream of riders to hang with and sesh features all day long. As Erika says, it’s “all good in the hood”.
4. New Zealand
Ah, New Zealand, land of Lord of the Rings and extreme sports! If you are into being able to ski AND mountain bike in the same day, New Zealand is the country for you. Full of breath-taking scenery, New Zealand is where this writer calls home for half of the year. In case you haven’t looked at a map recently, New Zealand is comprised of two islands, the North and South. The North island is home to Mt. Ruapehu, a ski field located on an active volcano! The skiing is entirely above treeline and has some seriously fun terrain full of gullies and transitions. When it is good there it is really good but due to the nature of the mountain (a volcano surrounded by absolutely nothing) it is victim to high winds and rain which can close the mountain down for days at a time.
The South island on the other hand experiences much more consistent weather and is home to a plethora of resorts from Remarkables and Coronet Peak in Queenstown to Cardrona and Treble Cone in Wanaka. There is also Mt. Hutt outside of Christchurch as well as a handful of really fun “club fields”. I would highly recommend checking out one of the South islands club fields, such as Mt. Olympus, as 100 people is usually a busy day for most of them and you will get to experience a nutcracker towrope (youtube it if you are unfamiliar!)
Hopefully one of these destinations peaked your interest if not for this season but next. Traveling abroad to experience an endless winter has allowed me to experience different cultures, meet new friends and become an all around better skier and rider. There is nothing like hoping back on snow in December (or earlier depending where you are) and getting right back into the flow without that awkward “how do I turn this thing again” phase.
Otherwise you can always take a surf trip instead.