There are not many places you can still ski in June in Europe – but in the Tarentaise you’ve got a choice of 2 glaciers to slide around in Tignes and Val d’Isere!
It’s only a month since the end of the Espace Killy Winter 2015 season, but already Val d’Isere’s Pisaillas glacier has re-opened to the public. Unpack your ski gear for morning runs, from 7am to 12.15pm, until July 12 – passes cost €33 for a day. Shuttle buses take you up from Le Fornet regularly through the morning. Then change out of your ski boots and into your flip flops for apres!
The mountains are beautiful and green in the summer sun, but up on the Grande Motte glacier there’s still plenty of snow to ski on from 27 June to 9 August.
There’s 20km of piste and 12 lifts accessible via the Perce-Neige funicular, which takes you up to the glacier in just 7 minutes.
At the top you’ll find training pistes for those on courses and a snowpark. Passes cost from €36 for an adult single day. If you’re not skiing, you can experience a glacial hike, roped to your group with a harness, crampons and an ice axe – for €45 for a half day.
The glaciers are maintained through the winter and snow “farmed” and stored to enable skiing in the summer months. As we wrote in this winter’s magazine, two piste bashers are employed full time over winter to maintain the ice cap and farm its snow – helping to keep the effects of global warming at bay. It’s predicted that by 2050 many of the Alps’ glaciers will have disappeared; some are retreating by as much as 3% each year. Part of the snow farming role is to create merlons – walls of snow moulded into ridges. Snow that’s blown between these walls is trapped and protected from the wind. Then it’s compacted and stored ready to be moved and groomed at a later date.
Both resorts still have plenty going on, but with a more relaxed vibe, in summer. After a morning’s skiing you could spend your afternoon climbing a via ferrata route in La Daille, trying watersports like the water slide, airbag jump, canoeing, paddle boarding or zorbing on Tignes lake, or just basking on a bar’s sun terrace.