When in doubt, go where the pros go. You don’t have to stray too far from your favorite ski movie to do a bit of location scouting. When the best of the best need some “summer” riding, you’ll find them in Portillo. Big mountains, lots of snow and readily available lift accessed terrain (plus a few heli operations) should put Portillo at the top of your shortlist for big mountain destinations.
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If you liked the sound of Portillo, you’re going to have a difficult time choosing between these two. Las Leñas sports similar terrain and snow conditions. In short, it’s also pretty freaking great. The biggest differences to consider are which side of the Andes you want to ride and how much of your trip revolves around finding the best steak in the world. Las Leñas wins the steak completion hands down. And as an added bonus, the base area bears resemblance to a Bond villain hideout.
This is the Southern Hemisphere’s largest ski resort. This one resort is made up of four unique villages that come together to supply Australians and tourists alike with over 12 square kilometers of skiable terrain. It might not have the biggest and best mountains on the planet—or even on this list—but if you’re a park rat, you’re sure to find yourself quite the playground at Perisher.
Resorts Open: June-September
Not exactly a ski area itself, Queenstown is the hub for four resorts: Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Treble Cone and Cardona Alpine Resort. Besides an abundance of terrain and a fun loving, safety-third mentality, Queenstown will host the 41st Annual American Express Winter Festival from June 24th through July 3rd 2016. Such a comprehensive festival in the town means you’ve got an exciting alternative if you miss the snow that week. The Jack Links Mountain Bikes on Snow race and Jucy Undy 500 underwear race are a couple standout events from 2015.
Known by the locals as Bariloche, you might remember this place as a stop on the Enduro World Series. Well, it’s not just a biking destination. When the snow flies in Cerro Catedral, the people come out to party. The mountain has that typically awesome dry Argentinian snow, but the village below is home to a couple mega clubs and a huge party scene. This might not be the best family destination on the list…
We’re not gonna lie, the skiing at Tiffindell isn’t great. The “ski area” is rather small and there’s really very little snow to speak of. The resort, which is one of only two in the southern part of the continent, is situated on the southern slope of Ben Macdhui, the highest mountain (3,001m) on the Eastern Cape. It’s usually open June-August with around 1,000m of ski runs…which we can only assume is a measurement of surface are, not vertical feet. Why go there? Because it’s a ski hill in Africa! It might be worth the trip for the novelty and adventure alone.
Open: November-May for normal operations, Open June-July for Summer Glacier Riding
Yeah, we know, Canada is in the Northern Hemisphere and it’s freaking hot as balls up there in the summer months. Why does this make the list? Blackcomb glacier holds snow year round and that precarious field of snow is host to a terrain park and a few ski camps each summer. Skiers should only make the trip if they’re looking for jumps or the odd ski racing camp, because although there is skiing, the usual big mountain lines are dry as a bone.