5 Of The Best Places To Snowboard In Europe Before Christmas
Here are 5 of the best glaciers where you can go snowboarding before the season starts
Are you looking for an early season snowboarding holiday? Many people believe that you can only hit the slopes after Christmas. However, there are more options to get some sunny early season snowboarding days in than you’d think.
Warm runs in a t-shirt, slushy forgiving conditions, and the opportunity to rub shoulders with some legit snowboarding professionals in early-season training are all very good reasons why you should consider getting your shred on in October and November, instead of waiting for the mad rush of January and February.
Here are the best places in Europe to go early-season snowboarding
Stubai - Austria
The Stubai glacier in Austria opens at the end of September, making it a firm favourite among snowboarders both pro and regular- Joes alike to get some early season laps in, and shaking off that summer rust.
Stubai is the largest glacier in Austria, meaning there’s plenty to do, whatever level of snowboarder you are. Blue, red, and black runs are all plentiful, with a mixture of chair lifts and drags to get you back up the hill again.
Each year sees an official opening of the glacier for the season called the Stubai Premier. In 2016 proceedings begin on 21st October where the world-famous Stubai Zoo terrain park will open, along with a weekend packed full of competitions, guest appearances, film premiers, and some of that world famous Austrian après.
For more on the Stubai Premier, see their website.
Saas fee – Switzerland
High in the Swiss alps, near the Italian boarder, is the Saas-Fee glacier. The resort of Saas-Free itself is car free, ensure it retains that picturesque, Alpine charm, but it’s the Mittelallalin glacier in the mountains that allows snowboarding all year round.
In fact, it’s not just snowboarding, going down at Sass-Fee. There’s what the locals, or at least those who tow the corporate line, call Swiss Glacier World, where along with regular alpine activities, snow-tubing and ski-doo rides are on offer for families.
At 3,500 metres above sea level, the views of the highest peaks in Switzerland are worth the trip alone, but why stop at just the views when there is t-shirt weather shredding to be had.
Check the Sass-Fee website out for more.
Tignes - France
Within easy reach of airports in Geneva, Lyon and Chambery is Tignes, home of La Grand Motte glacier. For those of you who shied away from GCSE French, it translates as The Big Hill, which is encouraging.
The glacier is open 11 months out of 12 above just over 3,000 metres. However, the official winter opening is at the start of October, making Tignes a brilliant place for some early-season snowboarding.
There’s a whole variety of runs to suit every level, along with a good terrain park with, again, lines to suit every ability, and a choice between the speedy underground funicular or slower but more scenic chair lifts to get you back to the top of the hill.
For more into on Tignes, check out their website.
Hinterlux Glacier - Austria
If small-town, nay, small-village charm is what you’re looking for in an early season snowboard holiday, then the Hinterlux Glacier should be near the top of your list. But it’s not just chocolate-box aesthetics that this Swiss gem has up it’s sleeve.
A short walk (about 15 minutes, longer if you’re Instagraming the views) from the village are the lifts that take you up to the Hinterlux glacier. Many of the runs up on the Hinterlux Glacier are challenging to say the least, certainly compared to those on most glaciers. In fact, the area boasts the steepest glacier run anywhere in Austria, if Travis Rice-style straight-lining is your bag.
The glacier is also home to an XXL sized terrain park, should freestyle snowboarding be your thing. Further, more open year round, Hinterlux Glacier is the perfect place to get your shred on, even in the summer months, so there’s nothing stopping you getting on a plane right this second.
For more, you've guess it, see the Hiterlux website.
Passo Tonale – Italy
Maybe not as well known as some of the other early season snowboard spots on this list, but that’s not to say it’s not up to scratch. In fact, Passo Tonale – literally translating as Mountain Pass, is a purpose-built village, erected high in Trentino, near the border of Switzerland and Austria.
Now, it’s fair to say things on the Glacier are a little basic in places. There are a while host of runs, from mellow blues through to tricky blacks, if that’s your thing. However, they’re only currently served by two drag lifts. So, if you’re the kind of snowboarder who lies awake at night at the thought of a button or T-bar, then maybe give it a swerve (or be prepared to do some serious hiking).
However, when it comes to off-piste, Passo Tonale really comes into it’s own. When conditions are right, even in the early season, back-country runs from the top of the glacier can go on for miles, and miles, and miles. So, get those squats in now if you want to take on this Italian job early in the season.
You can find out more about the area on the Passo Tonale website.