Header courtesy of Norbert Aepli, Switzerland
Earlier in the season, we dropped a completely US-centric piece on some of the best early-season snowboarding destinations. But what about when you want to shred the gnar in some more exotic locations? Well, glad you asked! (Or we’re glad that we asked on your behalf, at least). Below, we’ve got five of the finest world destinations for snowboarding, no matter the time of season.
1. Whistler Blackcomb, Canada
Widely hailed as the best-of-the-best for boarding in our northern neighbors’ nation, Whistler Blackcomb can be reached in less than a two-hour drive from Vancouver. Nested among the Coast Mountains, it’s one of the largest ski areas anywhere on Planet Earth and is comprised of two mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb. In fact, the latter was one of the first North American resorts to welcome snowboarders. All told, the five parks contained here offer 99 acres of terrain, 3,000 meters of vertical terrain, and roughly 450 inches of yearly snow
2. Chamonix, France
Chamonix is hallowed ski terrain. Situated beneath Europe’s tallest mountain, it’s dope as hell for freeride boarders thirsting for adventure. There’s tons of backcountry terrain, including tree-runs and couloirs, glacial runs, and a half-pipe. And with its modern interlinked lift system and 1830-meter vertical drop, it’s hard to go wrong here.
3. Verbier, Switzerland
A guide may be recommended because there is so much for expert riders to gain from the backcountry areas offered here. In fact, Verbier tends to top the lists of “best European freeride terrain,” and accordingly, it hosts the last leg of the Freeride World Tour annually. The descents are treacherous but wild fun, and Val de Bagnes, La Tzoumaz, Nendaz, and Veysonnaz are all nearby. Often tabbed as “the Swiss version of Chamonix,” a visit here should definitely be on your bucket list. Plus, even if you’re not up for boarding each day, the après-ski (post-skiing entertainment/boozing) is world-renowned.
4. Hokkaido/Niseko United, Japan
Olympic snowboarder, Soko Yamaoko, considers Hokkaido tops in the world for fresh powder because there’s simply so much available. It’s constantly falling across the resorts in this area, making for super fluffy and dry terrain that’s positively delightful. This potentially “most reliable of all ski seasons” is a product of the northernmost Japanese island’s susceptibility to Siberian storm systems.
Be sure to check out Niseko United, which offers access to four resorts on one lift pass (Grand Hirafu, Hanazono, Niseko Village and Annupuri). There’s 55 meters of terrain across 61 runs here and annual snowfall averages around 15 meters
5. Wanaka, New Zealand
The open, treeless snowfields and grand vistas (this place hosted filming for The Lord of the Rings, after all) of Wanaka await! This town gives easy access to Treble Cone, Cardrona, and Snow Farm NZ. All told, you’re getting the largest snowboard-able terrain in Australasia, ranging from wide-open trails to pipes and terrain parks.