How To: Ski all Summer

How To: Ski all Summer

Written by: Lucy Higgins


For many skiers and riders, the perfect ski day can look a couple different ways. There’s the classic powder day—and with its face shots, free refills, and the unmatched feeling of floating through deep snow, it’s a classic for a reason. The other unbeatable ski day swings in the opposite direction: think sunshine, soft, carveable snow, and a shred posse to mob lap after lap with (after all, there’s definitely room for friends on a spring ski day). It may be tricky to chase powder days all year long, but with a little luck and a little travel, it is possible to achieve some of those sunny summer ski days all year long. Here’s how. 

Where is the Right Location?

A man skiing through the woods in vermont from an aerial view. Skiing on Renoun downhill skis
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The simple fact is that most resorts close their operations in late spring, with a few stretching until May or early June. Skiers’ best bet to catch turns all summer long is to head to find their nearest glacier.

Timberline Lodge, located on Mt. Hood in Oregon is one option, as the Palmer Glacier—now technically a snowfield due to the glacier’s extinction—provides snow coverage all year long. For those with a bigger travel agenda, Zermatt, Switzerland is another summer hotspot, where the Matterhorn’s Theodul Glacier is skiable throughout the warmer months.

Another option: fly south to catch a full winter season. Resorts like Portillo in Chile kick off their season in mid to late June and peak skiing happens between then and September. The best part of summer turns may in fact be the cultural experiences that come along with them. 

What’s the Best Way to Head Uphill?

Man hiking up hill with Renoun Endurance skis on his backpack.
Credit - Renoun

If hopping on a jet isn’t in the cards, there’s another way to gain elevation. A backcountry setup—touring bindings and boots and a good pair of skins—can make summer laps just as likely of a possibility. Most large mountain ranges, like the Rockies, Cascades, and Sierra, have plenty of snow up high, making it a more accessible way to ski after resorts close for the season.

While the terrain may be close, it’s important to mention that accessing backcountry terrain comes with its own set of requirements. Basic backcountry knowledge is a must, including strong downhill ski skills, ability to skin and transition, and the know-how to properly use your equipment. Skiers and riders should have a firm grasp on avalanche awareness, have taken an Avy 1 course, and always ski with at least one other person.

When heading out of bounds, a solid understanding of route finding is also key. Terrain looks different as the snowpack lessens, exposing creeks, rocks, and dirt; it’s important to have researched prior to departing and to carry a map of your objectives. Lighter snowpack can also mean longer hikes in and out, as skiers have to rely on hiking instead of skinning through sections of terrain, especially in lower elevations. 

Have You Checked Your Equipment?

Skier removing his climbing skins from his renoun downhill skis. His ski boot bag is next to him, and he is standing next to a lake.
Credit - Renoun

You’ve found your zone. The flights are booked and the bags are packed. A crucial step? Make sure those bags are packed with equipment that will last as long as your season.

As the weeks on snow turn to months, and then, hopefully, a year, gear that usually gets some time in the garage is constantly being chucked into cars, down mountains, and back again. That extra wear and tear from extended use can earn some cred at the trailhead, but it’s important to keep functionality in sight. Abrasive snow and rocky patches can leave scratches, scuffs, and broken buckles, and the hot-cold fluctuations that can happen in the “off-season” can warp and potentially damage bindings, boots, ski bases and anything else being regularly used.

A surefire way to extend your summer season is to have gear that holds up. Regular equipment checks, and replacing batteries, parts, and whole pieces of gear when necessary, are the only way to truly keep connecting those turns. 

What’s In Your Pack?

A man hiking up a trail with a ski bag, Renoun Citadel skis and ski boots on his back.
Credit - Renoun

The final key element for skiing all summer is knowing how to dress. As anyone who’s spent time in the elements can attest to, proper layering is crucial for getting out and staying out. When it comes to summer skiing, that means lots of breathable layers—start with baselayers in a light, wickable material, like a lightweight wool, and stack on from there with a light midlayer and hardshell. Likely there will come a time of day when temperatures heat up, and it’s important to take layers off before getting too sweaty.

Beyond that, it’s closer to beach prep than ski prep when it comes to summer turns. Consider a wide-brim hat, glacier or wrap-around sunglasses that are polarized to help deflect some of the inevitable glare. A pair of dark-lens goggles and an extra hat in the pack go a long way, as does sunscreen, zinc, and more sunscreen. A warmer layer, like a down puffy, is always worth tucking in the bag as well. It takes up minimal space and can come in handy if the sun sinks or a summer squall emerges.

And for the most important part of summer skiing: drink water. The sun is stronger given the time of year and higher elevations, and dehydration is an easy but unnecessary way to cut a day short. Be sure to pack a couple of liters, or take frequent water breaks if at a resort. Your skin, body, and parched mouth will thank you. 

Photo of Author Lucy Higgins while skiing
Credit - Lucy Higgins

The Author: Lucy Higgins

Lucy is a seasoned editor and writer with a background in magazine publishing and creative directing. Formerly the Editor-in-Chief at Backcountry Magazine, she now works as a freelance writer and editor.

When Lucy's not at a desk, she can be found running, skiing, and spending time with her toddler. 

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