Neils Schack in L2A - Photo: Matt Georges
As the season rolls over from winter into spring, and into the yearly event that is summer – you might find yourself in the unenviable position of realising you haven’t actually done that much riding over the season. Fear not, summer snowboarding is a spiritual and moral pilgrimage that every snowboarder must take in his or her pursuit of enlightenment.
Whilst you’re unlikely to score any powder days summer snowboarding, you’re unlikely to experience anything quite as unique. Shrugging off the stares of confused fellow train users like a nonchalant Frenchman as you lug your stick through the European rail network in July is something no words can prepare you for. Neither can the descriptions of just how big the bags that ski racers take up the glaciers with them in late May – seriously, what have they got in them?
We digress. There are many options for summer snowboarding across Europe, and there are a plethora of other options across the globe. We’ve rounded up our favourite locations from personal experience, and places we haven’t been, but look fucking rad.
In the words of esteemed lyrical waxer Chris Moran “Few things are as horrific as ragdolling down a freshly-salted summer funpark wearing just a t-shirt and some park gloves. So painful, so humiliating and so awful a spectacle to onlookers is this experience that North Korea are rumoured to use it as a torture technique on victims for whom being eaten by dogs is too lenient a punishment."
Les Deux Alpes, France
Nearest Airport: Grenoble
Dates: 24th June - 2nd September 2017
France’s premiere option when it comes to charging through slush like a possessed puppy – Les Deux Alpes is probably the most famous offering when it comes to paying to get burnt on a budget.
LDA operates a full glacier park over the summer, which we reckon is the best that France offers in terms of summer snowboarding. They’ve even got a full-on superpipe to slash, pop and plant on if you get bored of the expansive kicker and rail offerings.
If you’re looking to go on a solo summer snowboard trip, there are more camps, courses and sessions than a Mormon fundraiser on offer. This means there’s plenty of opportunity to get your progression hat on, before the glacier shuts down at 12:30. You can check out some of the LDA options here.
The fun doesn’t stop then though, there’s a plethora of options to keep you entertained including go-karting, white water rafting, bungee jumping and the favourite pastime of any summer snowboarding trip; getting twatted on génépi at Smithy’s Tavern.
Positivity Camp, Italy
Nearest Airport: Milan
Dates: 9th - 18th June 2017
Whilst not technically a destination, it is the only glacier camp in Italy that we know of, that’s worth going to. If you’re looking for a proper adventure, we reckon summer snowboarding in the Formazza Valley is one for the books. Not accessible by road, or lift – you park up at the bottom of the valley and hike 4 hours up the mountain to get to the 3A shelter where you stay in dorms with the rest of the Positivity Familia.
Now, if you’re looking for a ‘core’ experience, we reckon you can’t beat the Positivity Camp - the park is built by Stefan Plattner of old Mayrhofen fame, and whilst it’s not going to win any awards for size, it’s not gonna be rammed full of people snaking which is well worth the 4hr hike in our humble opinion.
After a morning session, take a healthy dose of lunch and a wee snooze before the sessions fire up again in the afternoon. With the lifts being operated by the organisers of the camp, you needn’t worry about what time the lifts close.
All of the money spent on the camp goes into the nonprofit coffers of the Operazione Mato Grosso in Brazil – so if you’re looking for a way to justify it to yourself, remember that it’s all for charity.
Nearest Airport: Bergen
Dates: 26th June - 8th July 2017
Folgefonna is your best chance of finding yourself a Scandi Kjære this summer, unless you randomly start walking around your local city with a box of open snuss and some brown cheese. Fonna (for short) is the home of Scandinavian snowboarding each summer with a flock of fine riders cruising the infamous glacier. Folgefonna also boasts the shaping prowess of the Mushroom Crew, who have done a fine job of keeping Norway’s parks in tip top condition, and are returning to the park after a few seasons of glacier hiatus
Now, there are many things that Norway is, but cheap is definitely not one of them. You’d be lucky to afford a pack of rizzla on a European minimum wage, let alone 6 cans of lager, but if you’re an international baller, we’re sure you’ll bloody love it. For those of you that aren’t ballers, take advantage of Norway’s allemannsrett rule and head out into the wild for some camp vibes.
The park itself is instantly recognisable, and the stunt ditch T-bar has graced many an instagram feed, advert and cover shot. However, the weather at Fonna can be…challenging at the very least, so you need to go with the mindset that you might not actually do any snowboarding…shouldn’t of really included this should we?
Nearest Airport: Glasgow
Dates: All Year
Now we reckon we might be onto a winner with this one here. As a rule of thumb, most people have to decide whether to take a summer holiday, or a winter one. Now, whilst indoor snowboarding isn’t going to win you the ‘Xavier De Le Rue Award for Vertical Descent in One Day’ it does mean quick laps, and not having to share a lift with a million ski racers at 7AM.
What you get with Glasgow is both a cultural trip, and you get to get some laps in as well. You’ll need tae to your research though, because Braehead doenst have a park out 7 days a week, but you can always spice it up with Scotland’s least favourite pastime; dryslope.
Bearsden dryslope is only a wee drive away, and has the snowflex kicker upon which many a fine Scottish rider learnt their trade on. If you’re feeling that you want to go farther north than Glasgow, you can wind your way up to Aberdeen to sample the Granite City’s finest offerings as well.
If you time your trip right, you could even be in town at the same time as the Edinburgh Fringe Festival meaning you get your culture, and you get your carves. Who said snowboarders were bums eh?
Nearest Airport: Salzburg
Dates: 24th April until the winter season starts!
Whilst glaciers like ‘Tux might be better known, if you’re looking for an Austrian adventure over 2,600m you can’t turn your nose up at Dachstein. Turning off the highway, you drive up to the gondola before getting whisked up to the top, we’re not joking when we say that it might well be one of the quickest journeys to a glacier in Europe. Oh, and the cabins have two floors so you can chill on the roof as well.
Once you’re up there, it’s a rapid T-Bar that services the park, and you have a plethora of different options to choose from. The park is kept in shape by the QParks posse who do a damn fine job of keeping a progressive railline, and floaty kicker line throughout the period of the glaciers operation.
If there’s one gripe with Dachstein, it’s probably got to be the weather. It’s never ‘alright’ or ‘OK’, it’s either ‘fucking amazing’ or ‘get me the fuck off the mountain’- but that’s just summer riding.
Once your done with your day’s activities, you can freshen up at the lake just by the road up to the glacier, head over to Planai to get some mountain bike laps in, or just soak up the joy with some radler and schnitzel. It’s hard being a hustler.
Nearest Airport: Geneva
Dates: 15th July until the winter season starts!
If you’re an aspiring NTG candidate, or just like going slightly mad with cabin fever Saas-Fee could be the summer trip with your name on. Whilst Saas-Fee is renowned for it’s risky biscuits backcountry (think more crevasses than there are holes in a colander), the glacier also hosts a damn fine snowpark as well.
Saas-Fee’s park is nothing to be snubbed at either, the crew create a hefty line of booters to keep the aerial cats happy, whilst there’s a smattering of rail based kmadness to be had as well.
There are a few downsides to Sass-Fee though – the lift times are pretty harsh, so you need to keep an eye on when the T-Bar that services the park closes. There’s also what we can only call the ‘Saas-Mad’; a phenomenon that occurs from spending too much time in Saas Fee.
Whilst beautiful and all that, sometimes you begin to feel a little trapped – at that point you need to escape to civilization for a while. Either that or you just end up slamming Jaeger and pints.