If you have thought that glaciers are just a vast portion of ice you got it all wrong! Glaciers bring a whole new world of entertainment, a new life experience, and enable you to enjoy until recently unspoiled nature.
Although global warming is threatening to melt the glaciers and ruin this God given beauty, there are still plenty of icebergs to enjoy. Situated mostly in Europe and Canada, glaciers will let you experience the thrills of summer skiing and prolong the winter season.
Glacier skiing is a form of skiing on glaciers available to both cross country skiers as well as downhill skiers. Glacier skiing season lasts from May to September during which you can get an excellent tan besides good time skiing in the sun.
Glacier Skiing in Europe
Most European glaciers provide year-round skiing but our eyes are on the summer season. They offer terrain for beginners, intermediates, and experts. European glaciers are found in Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland and are situated on over 3000 meters over the sea level. You need to be prepared for variable weather conditions and let your body get accustomed to the heights and low temperatures. As the altitude grows, the temperature lowers 0.5 degrees Celsius on each 100 m, so make sure you bring a couple of jumpers but also your sunglasses and suntan lotion as the sun tends to be very strong in the summer.
Most skiers like to use the afternoon for glacier skiing because the snow seem to be the best at that time of the day. Later on as the day goes by, the sun gets stronger and starts to melt the snow ruining the skiing conditions. So, for prime conditions, mid-morning seems to be the optimum time.
Global warming has already started taking its toll in Switzerland and a few areas had to cancel their summer ski season due to receding glaciers. While this may be true for the world-famous St. Moritz, Les Diablerets and Zermatt are still open.
Glacier 3000 got its name for its altitude. It is located near Les Diablerets ski center, in the Vaud region. The glacier can be reached by two chair lifts. Considering the glacier is pretty flat, the slopes aren’t fast and are therefore suitable for all levels. The snow is high quality but you cannot say the same about weather. It changes suddenly and at one point the sun is shining, at the next its pouring rain. It’s important to listen to the predictions of the people who work and live in the area and hide on time if it threatens to blows and rains.
Close to the slopes, there are two caffes that besides excellent bites, coffee and tea offer also amazing views.
Another Swiss, at the same time the biggest summer ski resort is Zermatt. Glacier summer skiing takes places under The Matterhorn. Skiers can enjoy 25 km of ski slopes and 8 chair lifts to take them to the top. Most slopes are suitable for beginners and intermediates although there are some a few steep ones for the thrill seekers. The slopes open at 7am, so the skiers could get a hold of the best snow until it starts to get all dampy and heavy. If you decide to go there, do not miss The Glacier Palace situated 15m under the surface, full with wavy passages and amazing illumination. The entrance is free and it is open from 9 am till 3.45 pm.
Glacier Zillertal 3000 is a part of the Hintertux ski center. Glacier’s top has altitude of 3250m. There are over 72km of ski slopes suitable for all ski levels. Summer seasons starts in June and ends in September. There is a special chair lift that will take you to the glacier’s top, so you can enjoy the surrounding. This pleasure will cost you 25 euros.
The Mölltaler Glacier is the only glacier ski resort in Carinthia reaching up to a total of 3122 meters above sea level. It has an amazing view of the mountains Großglockner (the highest peak of Austria – 3798 m) and Großvenediger (3666 m) and it offer quite an experience with summer skiing. The glacier ski resort is accessible by taking the Tauern- highway, A10, exit Spittal from the north side. Then continue on the main road B106 until you reach Flattach where you will find directions to the glacier ski resort (7km away from Flattach). Coming from the west, it is best to use the main roads B100 and B106. Mountain passes on the way offer excellent panoramic views.
The Molltaler Glacier boasts the longest underground funicular in the world and has a ski area over 3000m that guarantees good quality snow.
Les Deux Alpes – ledovec Mont-de-Lans , the Dauphiné Alps
The “Double Alps” are one of the highest skiable glaciers in Europe situated at an altitude of 1,650 m. The Mont de Lans Glacier does have somewhat bad accessibility. It takes thirty minutes to reach it by the Jandri Express from the resort.
The main ski terrains are situated in the ridged area of 200 hectares. There is also a quality snow park for snowboarding lovers and enthusiasts who enjoy acrobatic feats on the half pipes and other obstacles. The resort is open until August or September for summer skiing on the glacier. In the summertime, the area is available for hiking, bicycle touring and water sports.
Whistler resort in Canada is the only resort in North America that offers downhill summer glacier skiing. The Blackcomb Glacier offers groomed trails, moguls, and a terrain park and the glacier is accessible by two chair lifts from Whister Blackcomb’s base, and then riding a bus to the glacier terrain. The summer glacier experience is recommended for intermediate to advanced skiers and riders.