Last word

Summer snowboarding, summer snowboarding… To me those two have never been opposites or incompatible in any sense. This is because I can recall almost as many good times snowboarding in a just a sweatshirt on sunny glacier as from spraying dry January powder. Wanna join me?
Words: Anders Hagman

A couple of issues back we put a story about some “ultimate” road-trips on this very page titled ‘Hit the European Roads Jack’. It turned out to be a popular theme with many readers, albeit a little late to use for planning the winter, according to some. A few also mentioned that most of the suggested trips were a bit on the over-adventurous and expensive side for – but that’s another story and nothing a good car and the right companions can’t sort out.
Anyway, on popular request I’ll continue down the same alley once again, offering a few suggestions for successful summer snowboarding holidays. And this time no fat wallets are required… Well, you may need to cut that booze- and Euro-guzzling EasyJet charter to Ibiza out of your vacation plans, but your vital organs will only thank you for doing this.
Here are some routes across Europe which includes both great glacier snowboarding as well as some off-snow fun. They have actually been popular with snowboarders over the past decades and still are. I’ll stick to the undercover story and low-down on each one, as in this day and age any fool with a computer hooked to the net can type earth.google.com and find maps along with the rest of the practicalities.
The Austrian-Italian-Brenner-Pass-Connection: Ahh… Austria, the glamorous epicentre of European snowboarding! At least if you ask a Bavarian that is. But they are probably right too. This is where the early ski industry got a permanent foothold back in the 50s and snowboarding did the same thing early 90s. Innsbruck, or IBK as many insiders refer to it nowadays, and the surrounding area is a likely place to find pros and look-alike-pros in action also in the summer.
For a mellow time on a mellow glacier, one might hit Sölden or Kaprun for a short while, but the slopes on these glaciers are a bit on the flat end of the spectrum. Better yet, go straight to Mayrhofen to set up a base camp, with just a quick 20-minute drive for hitting the Hintertux glacier every morning. Hintertux often spots a sick park for the majority of the summer, with a peak in shaping efforts around July when summer camps are running the show. Coming at the same time as a camp can, however, be a disadvantage as you may need to pay some kind of homage or fee to get to ride the park at those times. One thing is for sure with a camp in town, and that’s that it’s party time each night!
When you’re done snowboarding and going rafting (another fun activity in the area) – and unless your liver has said “enough of Weiss Bier, bitte” – the hop to recovery on great beaches is shorter than one would think.
Pack the car and caress it carefully up the famous Brenner Pass, just south of IBK. At the top, stop at the Mickey D’s and enjoy a shitty burger with a great view. Then continue the 5-hour drive to hit a true Italian beach classic: Rimini & Riccione. This is where the northern Italian locals go for vacation – and the place is actually blessed with not having hoards of drunken Brits yelling names of Premier League teams all night long. Instead, expect to spot models from Milano slowly sipping after-dinner Limoncellos after a hard day’s work on their tan lines. Just beware that unless you’re a Robbie Williams lookalike, you’ll need more grace than “Ciao Bella!” to even get to talk to them. Although, if you hook up, suggest a trip to nearby Venice for some Bond-style romantic getaway time. But unless this is the case, or you’re a history buff, this place may otherwise be left to the bus-loads of seniors.
The-Best-of-Switzerland-Overlooking-the-Chocolate: If you like it a little glitzier, do like the Swiss snowboarding mafia and pay the daily tourist tax required to even hang out in the remote village of Saas Fee. This place may have breast-fed more European pipe riders over the past decade than any other. So if this is your thing, plan to stay for a while. Although, after hiking pipe at 3200 metres above sea level, you’ll be fit as Lance Armstrong and may decide to switch career.
Just remember, you’ll find funny things in your knapsack if you bring cans of yoghurt and plastic bottles of drink up for a picnic at this height. So down your drinks at the Popcorn Bar & Snowboard Shop instead, a stellar place which has probably thrown more of the same breast-fed and now drunken snowboarders out its doors than any other establishment.
More central Verbier could be fun too, but the riding doesn’t come close to Saas Fee. It does, however, host camps as well which means most likely there will be a park built.
And Verbier is just a short drive away from a standout off-snow activity: The Montreux Jazz Festival. It’s held 4–19 July this year and although its name may imply otherwise, this festival is not only about jazz. For example, Chemical Brothers kicked it off in 2007. It’s one of the oldest (the song “Smoke on the Water” is based on a true story during the event) and coolest festivals around. It has something for everyone every night on a beautiful lakeside location.
Finally a word of caution if you decide to hit this area: tiny Les Diablerets used to have a hot park on its small glacier, but has now fallen victim to global warming (?) and is closed for downhill activities in the summer.
The-Far-Up-North-And-Way-Way-Out-There: Surprisingly far south in Norway lies Folgefonna in a out-of-the-way and rural neck of the woods. It’s not much of a resort, but has an ambitious young park shaper with a creative mind, so the place may actually be worth a visit. But do check that the park is up and running before going, because there’s not much to ride without it.
The almost legendary Stryn may have lost some of its glamour over the last decade but is still a glacier with a whole lot of riding. With a vertical drop at 540 metres, often fresh snow in June and steep backcountry riding few glaciers, if any, can compete. Avoid staying at the main camp ground unless your objective is people-spotting; instead go stay by the ones further south by the fjord-like lake. Try a swim at 10 degrees if it’s a hot afternoon.
And if you’re true water creature, bring your surf board and drive for less than 2 hours out to Stadtlandet and the village of Ervik. Sure, you can surf further north in the world but this is one of the most original spots around, with a long right-hander finishing right in front of a petite graveyard with a handful of metal crosses. And since all surfers secretly want to be fishermen, I’ll mention that the fishing is great there as well.
Finally, should you happen to going already in May, give Narvik and Riksgränsen a visit and ride 24 hours a day under the midnight sun… but this is a chapter that deserves a story on its own, so I’ll leave it here for now.
But-What-About-The-French-Fries? So now the French are going to go nuts at me for not mentioning the greatness of Tignes, Les Deux Alpes, and so on, but I’ll decide to take the crap for that. The reason for this is that France is a step behind the rest when it comes to summertime snowboarding. Possibly this is because they get the best snow in the winter… But if you happen to have been bitten by the climbing bug, then it’s definitely the place to be in the summer. Go hang out at the Verdon in one finger with the best of the best in that arena. But actually Tignes does often kick ass so I’ll honestly have to recommend going there as well… and then for a long haul over to Biarritz to catch some waves!

Looking forward to summer now? Then start saving tomorrow and start gathering a good crew coming Monday. But stop dreaming now and go out and get the best out of the rest of this winter!

Anders Hagman is a Swedish former pro rider who bleached his hair each summer trying to look like the Scandinavian chick magnet he never was.
The warmest winter I ever spent was a summer on a glacier

Summer snowboarding, summer snowboarding… To me those two have never been opposites or incompatible in any sense. This is because I can recall almost as many good times snowboarding in a just a sweatshirt on sunny glacier as from spraying dry January powder. Wanna join me?

A couple of issues back we put a story about some “ultimate” road-trips on this very page titled ‘Hit the European Roads Jack’. It turned out to be a popular theme with many readers, albeit a little late to use for planning the winter, according to some. A few also mentioned that most of the suggested trips were a bit on the over-adventurous and expensive side for – but that’s another story and nothing a good car and the right companions can’t sort out.
Anyway, on popular request I’ll continue down the same alley once again, offering a few suggestions for successful summer snowboarding holidays. And this time no fat wallets are required… Well, you may need to cut that booze- and Euro-guzzling EasyJet charter to Ibiza out of your vacation plans, but your vital organs will only thank you for doing this.
Here are some routes across Europe which includes both great glacier snowboarding as well as some off-snow fun. They have actually been popular with snowboarders over the past decades and still are. I’ll stick to the undercover story and low-down on each one, as in this day and age any fool with a computer hooked to the net can type earth.google.com and find maps along with the rest of the practicalities.
The Austrian-Italian-Brenner-Pass-Connection: Ahh… Austria, the glamorous epicentre of European snowboarding! At least if you ask a Bavarian that is. But they are probably right too. This is where the early ski industry got a permanent foothold back in the 50s and snowboarding did the same thing early 90s. Innsbruck, or IBK as many insiders refer to it nowadays, and the surrounding area is a likely place to find pros and look-alike-pros in action also in the summer.
For a mellow time on a mellow glacier, one might hit Sölden or Kaprun for a short while, but the slopes on these glaciers are a bit on the flat end of the spectrum. Better yet, go straight to Mayrhofen to set up a base camp, with just a quick 20-minute drive for hitting the Hintertux glacier every morning. Hintertux often spots a sick park for the majority of the summer, with a peak in shaping efforts around July when summer camps are running the show. Coming at the same time as a camp can, however, be a disadvantage as you may need to pay some kind of homage or fee to get to ride the park at those times. One thing is for sure with a camp in town, and that’s that it’s party time each night!
When you’re done snowboarding and going rafting (another fun activity in the area) – and unless your liver has said “enough of Weiss Bier, bitte” – the hop to recovery on great beaches is shorter than one would think.
Pack the car and caress it carefully up the famous Brenner Pass, just south of IBK. At the top, stop at the Mickey D’s and enjoy a shitty burger with a great view. Then continue the 5-hour drive to hit a true Italian beach classic: Rimini & Riccione. This is where the northern Italian locals go for vacation – and the place is actually blessed with not having hoards of drunken Brits yelling names of Premier League teams all night long. Instead, expect to spot models from Milano slowly sipping after-dinner Limoncellos after a hard day’s work on their tan lines. Just beware that unless you’re a Robbie Williams lookalike, you’ll need more grace than “Ciao Bella!” to even get to talk to them. Although, if you hook up, suggest a trip to nearby Venice for some Bond-style romantic getaway time. But unless this is the case, or you’re a history buff, this place may otherwise be left to the bus-loads of seniors.
The-Best-of-Switzerland-Overlooking-the-Chocolate: If you like it a little glitzier, do like the Swiss snowboarding mafia and pay the daily tourist tax required to even hang out in the remote village of Saas Fee. This place may have breast-fed more European pipe riders over the past decade than any other. So if this is your thing, plan to stay for a while. Although, after hiking pipe at 3200 metres above sea level, you’ll be fit as Lance Armstrong and may decide to switch career.
Just remember, you’ll find funny things in your knapsack if you bring cans of yoghurt and plastic bottles of drink up for a picnic at this height. So down your drinks at the Popcorn Bar & Snowboard Shop instead, a stellar place which has probably thrown more of the same breast-fed and now drunken snowboarders out its doors than any other establishment.
More central Verbier could be fun too, but the riding doesn’t come close to Saas Fee. It does, however, host camps as well which means most likely there will be a park built.
And Verbier is just a short drive away from a standout off-snow activity: The Montreux Jazz Festival. It’s held 4–19 July this year and although its name may imply otherwise, this festival is not only about jazz. For example, Chemical Brothers kicked it off in 2007. It’s one of the oldest (the song “Smoke on the Water” is based on a true story during the event) and coolest festivals around. It has something for everyone every night on a beautiful lakeside location.
Finally a word of caution if you decide to hit this area: tiny Les Diablerets used to have a hot park on its small glacier, but has now fallen victim to global warming (?) and is closed for downhill activities in the summer.
The-Far-Up-North-And-Way-Way-Out-There: Surprisingly far south in Norway lies Folgefonna in a out-of-the-way and rural neck of the woods. It’s not much of a resort, but has an ambitious young park shaper with a creative mind, so the place may actually be worth a visit. But do check that the park is up and running before going, because there’s not much to ride without it.
The almost legendary Stryn may have lost some of its glamour over the last decade but is still a glacier with a whole lot of riding. With a vertical drop at 540 metres, often fresh snow in June and steep backcountry riding few glaciers, if any, can compete. Avoid staying at the main camp ground unless your objective is people-spotting; instead go stay by the ones further south by the fjord-like lake. Try a swim at 10 degrees if it’s a hot afternoon.
And if you’re true water creature, bring your surf board and drive for less than 2 hours out to Stadtlandet and the village of Ervik. Sure, you can surf further north in the world but this is one of the most original spots around, with a long right-hander finishing right in front of a petite graveyard with a handful of metal crosses. And since all surfers secretly want to be fishermen, I’ll mention that the fishing is great there as well.
Finally, should you happen to going already in May, give Narvik and Riksgränsen a visit and ride 24 hours a day under the midnight sun… but this is a chapter that deserves a story on its own, so I’ll leave it here for now.
But-What-About-The-French-Fries? So now the French are going to go nuts at me for not mentioning the greatness of Tignes, Les Deux Alpes, and so on, but I’ll decide to take the crap for that. The reason for this is that France is a step behind the rest when it comes to summertime snowboarding. Possibly this is because they get the best snow in the winter… But if you happen to have been bitten by the climbing bug, then it’s definitely the place to be in the summer. Go hang out at the Verdon in one finger with the best of the best in that arena. But actually Tignes does often kick ass so I’ll honestly have to recommend going there as well… and then for a long haul over to Biarritz to catch some waves!

Looking forward to summer now? Then start saving tomorrow and start gathering a good crew coming Monday. But stop dreaming now and go out and get the best out of the rest of this winter!

Anders Hagman is a Swedish former pro rider who bleached his hair each summer trying to look like the Scandinavian chick magnet he never was.

X
Thumbnail for Last word

Also in Features

Eirik Haugo

Read More