Cycling, skyrunning, kayaking and even indoor surfing are among the incentives to visit the mountains in the summer. Also extreme sports events and micro-adventures for that high octane adrenaline rush.
Adrenaline junkies are rushing for the mountains where extreme sports and micro-adventures are starting to give summer an edge over winter.
So winter? Or summer? The lure of the mountains in the summer months is ramping up with more adrenaline sports and extreme action events attracting today's thrill-seeking tourists who want more excitement from a holiday bagging peaks rather than a lounger on the beach.
Already the list of activities in the mountains in the summer is vast. There's cycling, canyoning, rafting, kyaking, via ferrata, wing gliding, horse riding, hiking and skyrunning, all sports and leisure pursuits that you can't do in the winter when the mountains are covered in snow.
Image: Red Bull X Alps
Compare that to skiing, snowboarding, ski touring, telemarking and snowshoeing in the winter and you can see why summer in the mountains is gaining more appeal for activity holidays and micro-adventures.
Receding glaciers and shorter winters with climate change scientists predicting resort closures especially those below 1200m in the Alps by 2100 has given resorts a massive incentive to focus on summer. How will ski resorts exist in the future? By not relying on snow cover that's how. It's as if a bell has gone off in the Alps with resorts pushing out of the starting gates in a sudden surge to jump on the wagon - or is that e-bike? - for developing summer tourism via action sports.
With heart-stopping drops, fast flowing rivers and vertiginous vertical ascents, adrenaline sports in the mountains are a natural way to go. Here are 7 high octane reasons for a summer activity holiday in the mountains and the ultimate adrenaline events to enter:
1) ROAD CYCLING
ETAPE DU TOUR 16th July Briancon
As the snow melts and the cols open, the cyclists take to the mountain roads leaning over into the hairpin bends all over the Alps. There are numerous cycling events but probably one of the toughest and chapeau-raising is the Etape du Tour when 1500 amateur cyclists ride the 135km for the 20th stage of the Touor du France from Albertville to the highest point ever for the Etape at a leg-challenging 2365m finish in Val Thorens. Check out our guide to the Etape route here.
HIGH TRAIL VANOISE 6th July Val d'Isere
Image: International Skyrunning Federation
Skyrunning (above) is an increasingly popular and gruelling sport - in essence extreme running off road, at altitude. Technically skyrunning according to the International Skyrunning Federation is on trails over 2000m with more than 30 percent incline although running up steep mountains is a simpler definition. The Odlo High Trail Vanoise is one of the Skyrunning Series, summiting Grand Motte running 70km and tackling 5400m of vertical terrain.
3) MOUNTAIN BIKING
MEGAVALANCHE 8th - 14th July Alpe d'Huez
These days e-bikes are making steep ascents possible for the less physically able although pedal assistance uphill would be a ride of shame for a fit cyclist. But whereas mountain biking can be a leisurely pursuit pedalling along trails off road, it can also be a leg-punishing uphill challenge and a white knuckle extreme ride downhill. The Megavalanche in Alpe d'Huez needs nerves (and knuckles) of steel with 1400 riders taking part in the longest downhill mountainbike race in the world from Le Pic Blanc at 3300m finishing at Allement at 720m.
GO-PRO KING OF THE ALPS 7th-9th th June River Passer, Soouthern Tyrol, North Italy
Image: Go-Pro European Championship Extreme Kyak
School children, university students and families know the thrill of bobbing down the fast flowing Alpine rivers, swollen by the winter snow melt. It can be as extreme as the river and rapids that, literally, float your boat. For some extra extreme river paddling and partying there's the Go-Pro European Championship Extreme Kyak in Italy. On the river Passer in South Tyrol (northern Italy) paddlers from all over the world meet for what looks like white water mayhem (above) to race, party and battle for the title of GoPro King and Queen of the Alps.
5) MARATHON RUNNING
MARATHON DU MONT BLANC 27th -30th June Chamonix
Doing a marathon on the flat road? Pah. Try doing one up and down a mountain. One of the toughest AND most scenic is the Marathon du Mont Blanc. Join 2000 runners doing 42k and 2730m vertical. But if that seems too easy, then there's the double marathon on the same day, 83.7k and 5960m vertical with 24 hours max to finish.
6) PARAGLIDING / RUNNING
RED BULL X-ALPS 16th June Salzburg
Red Bull X-Alps
Paragliding is a leisure tourist attraction that appeals as an ultimate thrill aerial ride with an expert for a stunning eagle eye's view of the mountains. But it is also an extreme sport thanks to Red Bull X-Alps when 32 intrepid athletes from 20 countries race across the Alp taking a straight-line distance of 1138km from Salzburg to Monaco via 7 turnpoints in 7 different countries travelling by foot or paraglider.
Tignes 2100 Coming soon
It's still a work in progress, but Tignes is have a 400m indoor ski slope, The Sky Line, to make it a year round ski resort. But it's not the prospect of being able to ski all year in Tignes that's surprising - the resort is already open for nine months thanks to the albeit receding Grand Motte glacier. No it's the thought of surfing in Tignes that's news. In the pipeline, excuse the pun, for the 62 million euro Sky Line project is a swimming pool with three metre waves for surfing. Tignesurf Wave Championships coming soon?