Chasing Snow: Plan a Ski Trip Around the World

By Jennifer Sutherland-Miller on January 21st, 2016
BootsnAll

Winter is upon us in the Northern Hemisphere and it’s hard not to think of tropical escapes. But what if your ’round the world journey started next month and spanned the globe hitting the slopes?

What if, instead of jetting off to beaches around the equator, you jumped on a plane and headed straight into the arms of an alpine winter? Think of it: The European Alps, the mountains of Japan, the big boys of the Canadian Rockies, and a skiing the highest mountain in the world: Mauna Kea; which just happens to be in Hawaii. Yep. You can ski that.


Indie Trip

What’s that, you say? You’re ready? Great! Then here’s your route:

  • If you’re leaving from the USA, jet out of JFK, in New York, straight to Geneva, Switzerland
  • From Geneva, make the giant leap to Tokyo
  • Next up, surf & ski in the same week on the Big Island of Hawaii
  • It’s a short hop to Vancouver and straight up hill into the Canadian Rockies
  • One cross continental flight left, and you’re back in NYC
  • Total cost for the flighs for this mind blowing winter adventure: Only about $1800, if you leave February 2, 2016. NO WAY, right?

Planning a Gap Year? Want to Ski?

European Alps


ski switzerland
You might just get stuck here forever. I warn you. There are dozens of ski hills scattered across the six countries that encompass the European Alps: Germany, Switzerland, Andorra, Italy, France and Austria.

If you’re not sure where you want to start, this website will help break it down for you by country. Really, you could spend the entire winter hopping hills across Europe and never feel the need to go any further.

If you’ve got limited time, pull a three week tour that gives you two days on a hill in each country, with a travel day between. Start in France, then Andorra, Switzerland, Austria & Germany. The train through the Alps in winter is spectacular.

Read more about 7 of the Most Luxurious Ski Resorts in Europe.

Tokyo, Japan


ski japan
Japan has some amazing skiing and within just a couple of hours of Tokyo there are over a dozen ski hills. Check out Powderhounds for a breakdown of where they are and how to get there.

Arctic winds from the north off of Siberia mean tons of great powder this winter. Add in the allure of the Sapporo Snow Festival February 5-11, 2016 and there’s no good reason to miss a ski trip to Japan this winter.

Hawaii


ski hawaii
Yes, you can ski in Hawaii. In fact, if conditions are right, you’ll get to ski the highest mountain in the world. at 13, 796 feet above sea level, the big island is just the tip of a massive volcano that descends another 19,000 feet below sea level. Whoa. That’s big.

Your best bet if you want to hit the slopes is January or February. Snow sometimes blankets the top of Mauna Kea and weather fluctuates between -4 and 4C. The conditions are highly variable and if there is strong wind then the road to the top will be closed and it will be too dangerous to ski.

There is no groomed terrain, this is a wilderness expedition. There are a couple of companies who will drive you up there and rent you skis. Take a buddy, because someone will need to drive up and down the mountain while the others ski or board it. Play nice: take turns.

It’s not a sure thing, and it’s not an easy thing, but it’s well worth it for the adventure. How many people do you know who have skied the biggest mountain in the world? In Hawaii?

Read more about Seven Unique Ski Resorts You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of

Whistler, Canada


ski whistler
Start the winter in Whistler, BC. With 200 runs and 37 lifts it’s the ultimate Rocky Mountain winter adventure. The Canadian Rockies are breathtaking in every way, and the very best way to experience them is on skis.

If you’re planning to extend your snow chasing dreams with a road trip between mountains in Canada and across the USA, consider the Mountain Collective Pass which will give you two days of skiing at 10 hills in North America, and one in Australia!

Read more about the 12 Best Ski Resorts in North America

Banff, Canada


ski banff
The other big ski town, just over the border of BC, in Alberta, an hour and a half flight or a long day’s drive up from Vancouver will place you in the heart of the spectacular peaks that have made this ski town famous.

Banff is described as Canada’s original ski town and it is right next door to Canada’s first National Park. Outdoor adventure is the order of the day in this little piece of winter heaven. There are three big hills split between two towns and enough skiing to keep you busy all winter.

Not a skiier? No worries, the quaint town of Banff has plenty of warm indoor interest. World class food, great shopping, and plenty of resort style hotels with spas and hot tubs for apres ski.

That’s a great trip! Are you ready for the real wild cards? There’s great skiing in the Southern Hemisphere too, only it happens the other half of the year, July- September.

Read more about the 8 Most Affordable Ski Resorts in North America

Southern Hemisphere Skiing

Check out the Indie Route Planner to build your own route to do it again over the summer. Destinations might include:

New Zealand


ski new zealand
For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, who associate skiing with Christmas and spring break trips, skiing in New Zealand in July feels like a novelty.

The South Island has a few good spots. Near Christchurch, there are seven great hills, including Mt. Hutt, which is the biggest commercial ski resort in the area. Near Queenstown and Wanaka you’ll find a handful gorgeous ski fields. The Remarkable Range lives up to it’s name. Truly.
Mount Cook & Mackenzie round out the South Island options with some hidden gems and spectacular views.

Heli skiing anyone? Hell yeah!

On the North Island, there are two fantastic hills on Mt. Ruapehu, an active volcano that sometimes gets exciting during the ski season.

If you’re in New Zealand July and August, go skiing!

Australia


Ski australia
Australia has five resorts that are open for business in the highlands of New South Wales and Victoria. They run June through September, snow permitting.

If you’re used to the big hills in North America and Europe, you’ll find Australia’s skiing somewhat underwhelming, but do you know anyone who has skied Tasmania? Yeah, me either. There are just two hills on the island and they’ve got about 10 km of combined run length, but it’s a novelty that not many will have on their bucket lists!

South Africa


ski south africa
You wouldn’t think that in the same country that you can see the big game animals on the hot savannah you can also ski and snowboard, but you can. Tiffendel is the only ski resort in the country. They’re open June-August and if Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate and provide the snow, they’ll make it!

You know you want to snow ski the southern tip of Africa. It’s just cool.

South America


Ski south america
There is more to South America than the Amazon River, endless rainforest and the famous deserts of Patagonia. There is also some of the best skiing in the Southern Hemisphere. The Andes run the length of the west coast of the continent and they are snow covered and open for skiing beginning in June and in good years, (like 2015 was) into October.

The greatest concentrations of ski hills are in Argentina and Chile, along either side of the mountains that they share along their borders, but there’s a hill in Bolivia as well. You’ll want to do some research and make your plans early. Some of the hills are taking bookings for the coming season already.

Are you planning a RTW trip?
Are you a ski bum? Share your favorite hills and pictures with us @bootsnall on Twitter.