Ski All Seven Continents
Everyone knows that North America and Europe are fantastic ski destinations, but did you also know that it is possible to ski on all of the other continents as well? Yep, that's right, you can actually ski in Africa, Australia, and even Antarctica if that's something that happens to be on your bucket list. If one of your goals is to ski the world, we have some suggestions on the very best places to hit the slopes on all seven continents.
Let's face it, North America has an amazing number of great ski destinations to choose from, many of which are amongst the very best in the entire world. But, it's tough to top Jackson Hole in Wyoming, which has more than 2500 skiable acres and receives an average of over 400 inches of snowfall in any given year. The resort has plenty to offer both beginner and intermediate skiers, but the experts will really be in their element in this majestic winter playground that features numerous challenging runs and plenty of vertical, with a stunning mountain backdrop that is second to none. As a pure ski destination, Jackson Hole has few peers.
European skiers also have a blessing of riches when it comes to great ski resorts, many of which can be found in the Alps of France, Italy, and Switzerland. Perhaps the very best of all is St. Moritz, which is amongst the oldest winter resort destinations on the entire planet. The region is famous for its spectacular powder and impressive vertical drops that can send skiers plummeting down more than 5000 feet on a few of the trails. St. Mortiz has been a favorite ski area for Europeans since the 19th century, and for good reason. It is simply put, one of the best places to go skiing in the entire world.
The popularity of skiing is on the rise in Asia, with South Korea already offering some great destinations for international skiers, while countries like China and Mongolia are starting to cater to their needs too. But the very best skiing is found in Japan, which has a thriving ski and snowboard culture that draws plenty of visitors each year. Nieseko Hirafu takes top honors thanks to its over abundance of fresh snow and stunning scenery. Here visitors will find options to ski both on and off piste, and an opportunity to go night skiing as well, which is always an exhilarating experience. And after they've left the slopes at the end of the day, there is a thriving nightlife to keep the party going well into the wee hours of the morning too.
While the options for skiing in Africa aren't plentiful, there are still some places that are worth a visit. For instance, Michlifen is located in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and is a popular place for local athletes to train at altitude. Most of the resort's runs are designed for beginners and intermediate skiers, so experts may find them a bit on the tame side. With just a little over a half mile of trails and a single ski lift, Michlifen won't overwhelm visitors with its size and scope. In fact, the drop in elevation is a modest 180 meters (590 feet), but the snow is smooth and acceptable, giving travelers the chance to hit the slopes in a very unexpected place. If you're truly looking to ski all seven continents, this probably your best bet for Africa.
With an average of 60 inches of snowfall each year, Mt. Hotham has been dubbed the "Powder Capital of Australia." The resort offers some of the best options for skiers on the continent, with more than 60 trails spread out over 605 acres. The longest run stretches for an impressive 1.5 miles, offering a test of both skill and stamina. With a surprising amount of terrain aimed at more advanced skiers, Hotham can be a bit intimidating at first, but there are several trails that are specifically designed to cater to beginners too. During the winter season, the resort even offers night skiing on Wednesdays and Saturdays, which are typically wonderful times to be on the slopes. There is even a rail park for the daredevils amongst us and sledding and snow tubing for those who'd rather play it safe.
While a bit overshadowed by the great skiing in North America and Europe, South America has an ambulance of great destinations for skiers as well. The Andes Mountains provide plenty of snow and vertical drops to keep even the best shredders completely engaged, with both Chile and Argentina serving up more than their fair share of world class resorts. One of the very best is Portillo, a remote destination that by design can only accommodate 450 visitors, making it a challenge to book a stay there. Nevertheless, the place has plenty to keep travelers occupied. Spread out over 14,000 acres (Yes, you read that right!), the landscape is sprawling, often conveying the feeling that you have an entire run completely to yourself. That isn't something that is easy to find at too many other places on any continent, so if you do visit, be sure to soak it all in while you can.
Covered in snow and ice, unsurprisingly Antarctica has a lot to offer skiers as well. But, the continent is not developed in any way, so there aren't exactly any ski resorts to book a stay in while you are there. That doesn't mean you can't ski the "Frozen Continent" however, as there are a number of options for backcountry exploration, provided you have the wherewithal to pay for it. For instance, the aptly named Ski Antarctica offers yacht-based ski adventures to places that few other people ever get the chance to see, let alone ski. Similarly, Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions offers supported ski excursions in the Antarctic as well, although you had better be ready to open your wallet. A 12-day trip starts at $29,450. That's a bit more than taking the family to Vail for a weekend, huh?