Summer snowboarding rules. Here's a rundown of 7 European resorts that are well worth checking out while your mates are sweltering back home in traffic jams. [splitpost intro="true"]
Summer snowboarding is about as close as you can get to having a mellow skate session with your mates on snow. It's the perfect summer cocktail of sunshine, riding in a t-shirt, pond skims, lounging around on deck chairs, snow conditions that change by the hour, suntanned (burned) faces and an inevitable plethora of memories that are actually worth remembering, for once.
While many resorts in Europe stay open long into May, there are far fewer that offer decent snowboarding in summer proper. We're talking June or July here - the time when most less-dedicated snow-sliders are busy thinking about which pimp new BBQ they should invest in or which bikini they'll be able to squeeze into, rather than where they can get those last few turns or jibs in.
Here's a rundown of some of the best summer snowboarding destinations that our fine continent has to offer (plus a couple of non-European alternatives):
[part title="Dachstein Glacier"]
Closest Airport: Salzburg
Opening times: Mid April until Early/Mid July
Dachstein in Austria is the Eastern-most rideable glacier in Europe, and while its small size means it won't be your go-to resort in peak winter, the glacier truly comes into its own in the summer months.
Superpark Dachstein has a whole bunch of different features to hit, with everything from ride-on boxes to a pro-kicker line, and if you head up here at the right time, you could very well be rubbing shoulders with some of Europe's best jibbers.
With a dedicated t-bar it's super quick to lap as well, meaning maximum time to dial in the tricks you've been working on. The scenery here is super dramatic too, with a quite frankly terrifying skywalk, and even the option to ride the gondola on its roof!
Closest Airport: Geneva or Lyon
Opening times: Mid June to End of August
As former host to the European X-Games, and a bunch of other high profile events, Tignes is one of the biggest and most established resorts in France.
In the summer months between early/mid June and the end of August, the Grande Motte opens up for snowboarding. Access is via the Funicular from Val Claret and the glacier features 130 hectares and 20km of rideable terrain and over 750m of vertical. It certainly holds its own as one of the best glaciers for snowboarding in Europe.
Although relatively small, the terrain park features a solid range of jibs and jumps and is geared more towards the beginner/intermediate level freestyler rather than expert/pro riders.
Once the snow starts to rapidly resemble its liquid form in the afternoon, head down back down to Tignes Le Lac where you can go swimming in the lake, cruise on a skateboard, or even play some mini golf. Alternatively, Tignes has some of the best mountain biking trails in Europe - well worth a look in if you're that way inclined!
Closest Airport: Bergen (or Oslo)
Opening times: 1 May - 31st August
It may only be the third largest glacier in Norway, but Folgefonna is the go-to summer destination for Nordic freestyle snowboarders. Although small, Folgefonna (Fonna in short), has a really sick vibe and a good selection of park features to hit.
Folgefonna sits up above a fjord, so once you're done with snowboarding for the day you can head down, cool off, and scope out the attractive norse-god descended lads and lasses combing the err... fjord-side.
Closest Airport: Zurich (or Geneva)
Opening times: June to September
The Zermatt region in Switzerland is the largest and highest summer skiing area in Europe. With spectacular views of one of Europe's most iconic mountains, the Matterhorn, and over 22km of pistes up on the glacier, there's no shortage of decent terrain to ride here either.
The terrain park is located on the Plateau Rosa and has a wide range of kickers and jibs to suit all abilities. This summer, in just under a month's time, the Burton Summer Camp will be coming to the region with Burton riders like Wojtek Pawlusiak, Jesse Augustinus and Werni Stock heading up to stoke out the kids.
If you're on a really tight budget, Zermatt is perhaps best avoided altogether, although you can save a few extra bucks by staying in the slightly cheaper town of Cervinia, across the border in Italy.
At a dizzying altitude of 3899m, be sure to be generous with that factor 50 suncream. The UV levels are pretty intense at that altitude and landing a mean sunburn and resulting goggle/sunnies/balaclava tan just ain't that sexy.
[part title="Saas Fee"]
Closest Airport: Geneva / Zurich / Milan
Opening times: July to September
Saas Fee is a decent all-round option for summer snowboarding, with around 20km of pistes available to ride, suited best to intermediate snowboarders. The whole area is serviced by 3 t-bars and while the runs are nice and wide, they can get a little steep in places.
The funicular takes you to the top of the glacier and you ride down from there, so be aware that you'll have to take the lift back up to get to the facilities/restaurant. The park is situated riders left and includes rails, kickers and a decent halfpipe.
Closest Airport: Innsbruck
Opening times: May to October
The Hintertux glacier in Austria is one of the few places in the world where you can snowboard on every day of the year.
Located at right at the back of the Zillertal valley about 30 minutes up from Mayrhofen and at an altitude of 3250m, snow is basically guaranteed year round at 'Tux.
The summer freestyle offering at Hintertux is particularly solid, with a huge number of jibs and kickers to hit, as well as pro kicker line. Earlier in the season there is also a halfpipe, although this is usually closed by the time summer rolls around.
The dedicated t-bar means you can get a bunch of laps in during the day and keep an eye out for local Burton Snowboards ripper Werni Stock crushing the pro-line like he can best. Chances are that if the sun is shining and he isn't injured or travelling, he'll be there!
[part title="Les Deux Alpes"]
Closest Airport: Grenoble/Chambery/Geneva
Opening times: June 21st to August 30
At 3200m and Les Deux Alpes is widely recognised as the home of one of the best summer terrain parks in France.
With a huge array of kickers and rails to hit (around 70 features in total), as well as two halfpipes served by their own dedicated lift, you'll have no shortage of features to progress on in the summer slush. There are also a whole bunch of summer camp options available, with most (and rightly so, considering the setup) being catered towards freestyle riders.
Down in the resort you'll find a skatepark, pool, loads of bars and many other activity options to keep you busy when you're not riding your snowboard.
[part title="And Here Are a Couple of North American Options"]
Closest Airport: Vancouver
Opening times: mid June to mid July
Home to the infamous Camp of Champions summer camp, Blackcomb mountain is home to one of the best summer parks in the world. Unfortunately, unless you're Torstein Horgmo or Stale Såndbech or another invited rider/coach, it'll cost you a small fortune to ride it.
Despite that, you'll also find a decent public park up on the glacier too, look out for the Footyfiend crew combing it!
Closest Airport: Portland
Opening times: June to September
There isn't much that really needs to be said about summer snowboarding at Mt. Hood.
Every June/July/August we get a slew of amazing park edits from Windells and High Cascade and although also expensive to attend, it pretty much looks amazing.
Every pro and their gran passes through Hood each summer, and on top of the sick snowboarding, you get to skateboard in killer parks, eat doughnuts and do a bunch of other fun shit - provided you're down to hang with a load of 16 year old campers, of course...