Ski bums and snow bunnies rejoice: While most European ski resorts are in the midst of bringing their lifts and gondolas to a shuttering stop, there are still a handful of high-altitude havens that keep the winter season going strong into May. So don’t pack away your skis, boards and boots just yet – you still have one last chance to carve the Alpine pistes before snow gives way to mountain wildflowers.
We’ve found six destinations whose seasons run into the month of May, so you can indulge in one last, late-season downhill slalom followed by a celebratory après-ski.
Sölden, Austria – closes May 8
True, the “winter ski area” may have closed, but there is still fine powder to be found on Sölden’s two glaciers. Rettenbach and Tiefenbach glaciers make up one of Austria’s largest glacial areas, and are even connected via a ski tunnel. More than 3,000 metres above sea level, there are 10 lifts and nearly 35 kilometres of trails that run the gamut from gently rolling runs on Tiefenbach and challenging terrain on Rettenbach.
Kitzbühel, Austria – closes May 5
Unusual for anon-glacier resort, Kitzbühel is predicted to remain open into early May, meaning there’s still time to take on the famed Hahnenkamm – or “Strief” – downhill slope, where those who dare will be challenged by a variety of terrain that includes jumps, steep slopes, curves, compressions, moguls and even an uphill workout. With an additional 170 kilometres of groomed pistes and myriad cosy ski chalets and lodges, it’s easy to see why this resort has earned the title “Best Ski Resort in the World” on more than one occasion.
Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy – May 1
Projected to stay open just into May, the so-called “Queen of the Dolomites” is the place for breathtakingly dramatic landscapes, fashionable après and Italian village charm – it’s no wonder it’s a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. The skiing is spread over three mountain ranges, much of which is often nearly deserted as Italian holidaymakers seem to place preference on sunning, dining and socialising – all the better for the genuinely winter-sport obsessed to take advantage of.
Tignes & Val d’Isère, France – May 1-8
The vast Espace Killy ski area comprises Tignes, Val d’Isère (both closing May 1) and Tignes Glacier (closing May 8), and is the French Alps’ best bet for a last-minute ski holiday. With the potential for a vertical descent all the way back into the resort, even in May during a good season, skiers can rest assured that Tignes’ Grand Motte glacier at 3,656 metres will be snow-sure with not just downhill skiing, but cross-country, snowshoe trekking and glacier climbing available.
Ruka, Finland – closes May 9
Boasting more than 200 days of skiing each year, Ruka has been known to remain open well into June due to excellent natural conditions and unparalleled snowmaking abilities thanks to 90 canons that have the ability to produce enough snow to open slopes in just a single day of work. It may be low altitude, but its proximity to the Arctic Circle ensures a chilly climate, and is a great destination for freestylers with the resort's freestyle championships and the popular BatteryPark for adventurous boarders.
Hintertux, Austria – never closes
Yes, Hintertuxer Gletscher is open 365 days a year for day-in and day-out groomed pistes between 1,500 and 3,250 metres. Totalling 60 kilometres in length, with up to 18 kilometres of that open even in the middle of summer, you can swish down trails of all difficulties while taking in surrounding views of Grossglockner, the Dolomites and the Zugspitze. It’s an ideal destination for families, even if you don’t ski, as a break from summer’s heat with an ice cave to explore and the Gletscherfloh Kid’s Park filled with snowy fun, each open year-round.