Six mountain experiences not to miss
Ski resorts embrace a new lease of life in the warmer months. With views assured – and crowded lifts off the menu – breathtaking scenery becomes the perfect backdrop for unexpected outdoor activities. From spotting mountain lions on safari to an adventure park with a Bond-movie backdrop, Gemma Askham picks peak adventures to experience at these alpine summer stars for next year and beyond
Go goat trekking in St Moritz, Switzerland
Plan a trip to Switzerland
Stay: Suvretta House
However agile you are on skis, let’s be honest – a goat has never had to abort a black run and slide down on its bum. Goats are the ultimate mountain-traversers, and the four-legged guides at Suvretta House – a majestic five-star hideaway in St Moritz – host the equivalent of a TED Talk in trekking. You’ll meet the gang, put on their halters, hike together and enjoy a picnic of local produce. When you’re not cooing over the goats’ cuteness (oh, admit it), summer is the only season when you can truly appreciate the geography usually buried under snow and salopettes. Footwork skills finessed, head to Lake Silvaplana. Here, a localised weather phenomenon called the Maloja wind means a steady gust skims across the water, producing ideal – and consistent – conditions for wind- and kite-surfing. Finally, embrace après-no-ski with an ilā Signature Treatment at the Suvretta House spa, where stubborn knots will feel as warm and supple as the evening’s fondue.
High Life says: Expect elevated service. Experienced hikers can scale the railway trail to 3,000m peaks – Piz Nair, Corvatsch and Diavolezza – where the Engadin Valley looks otherworldly. Similar highs come from Suvretta House’s service, where guests are welcomed like close friends.
Take a mountainside safari in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Plan a trip to the USA
Featuring an all-star cast of bears, elk, moose and bison, the scenery at Jackson Hole reads like a checklist from your geography GCSE – geysers, waterfalls, crystalline lakes. In winter, this devilishly inclined icon of America’s ski and snowboard scene squats under layers of powdery snow. In summer, its surroundings – the 22-million-acre Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem – come alive. It’s hard to even comprehend the scale of it. To see as much as possible, take the off-road mountain safari hosted by Amangani – a spectacular retreat famed for its design kudos. Luxury vehicles take the grunt work out of traversing flatlands, wetlands and forest, leaving your eyes free to enjoy the good stuff – spotting the locals, such as wolves and mountain lions. For a bird’s eye view of the terrain, be inspired by the 300+ local bird species (including bald eagles) and take a hot-air balloon ride across the valley, or a mad-but-magical paraglide.
High Life says: Pack a ‘proper’ camera. The Teton mountain range, which Amangani sits at the foothills of, was the cover artwork of Kanye West’s 2018 Ye album. West shot it himself while recording in Jackson Hole. Work your lens’s magic from the balcony of Amangari’s panorama-blessed suites.
Follow a family activity trail in the Austrian Alps
Take off to Austria
Stay: Das Central, Sölden
Austrians have a word for summer life in the mountains – almzeit – which, translated from German, means ‘pasture time’. That may sound relaxing, but this is Sölden we’re talking about – the all-action backdrop for Daniel Craig’s Bond in Spectre, host of an annual ski World Cup and, in summer, home to the 20-activity Almzeit Theme Hiking Trail. Designed for families, the route combines gondola rides and youngster-friendly paths with plenty of fun stops, including adventure playgrounds, a telescope, a petting zoo, a crystal museum, plus cute food huts serving local classics. Order the marende (a hunger-abating charcuterie platter) and a gooey apple strudel. Refuelled? Hit Area 47, Austria’s largest outdoor adventure park, for white-water rafting, wakeboarding, a high-rope course and a terrifying bungee-style freefall known, innocently, as the Mega Swing. The recovery? Found in the ten saunas and steam rooms at Das Central – a sleek, view-blessed hotel that aces being modern and cosy. Bonus: all guests receive the Ötztal Inside Summer Card, which offers activities such as the Almzeit trail for free.
High Life says: Go Bond-kers. Hop on the Gaislachkogl cable car to Ice Q. This futuristic glass structure has a Bond installation, a tasting-menu restaurant and a café with a skyline straight out of a Hollywood blockbuster.
Go off-piste with two wheels in Kanin, Slovenia
Plan a trip to Slovenia
Stay: Hotel Sanje OB Soči
Cycling is in Slovenian blood. Countryman Tadej Pogačar is currently one of the hottest talents in world cycling, winning the Tour de France in both 2020 and 2021. While in May, Soča Valley (where Mount Kanin sits) hosted the 19th stage of the Giro d’Italia, providing a route notorious for its outrageous opening ascent. Whether you want to emulate the big pedallers at 2,300m or take two wheels on a more sedate journey (we recommend following the emerald-green River Soča), Slovenia is a beauty. High points? Prestreljeniško okno – a surreal-looking ‘window’ in the rockface that offers an epic perspective of the contrasts across the Italian-Slovenian Alps, from lush green forests to moon-like grey mountain peaks. In fact, there’s such a great choice of trails that your cleats will feel as if Christmas has come early. The staff at Hotel Sanje OB Soči – a brilliantly positioned base that oozes mountain-lodge charm – will advise the best routes based on your fitness/aspirations/lunch-stop requirements.
High Life says: Bring the kids. Hotel Sanje OB Soči has on-site babysitting, as well as free backpacks for kids, to ensure that a spirit of adventure runs in the family.
Learn horsemanship and equine rehabilitation in Utah
Plan a trip to the USA
Stay: The Lodge at Blue Sky, Park City
If horses are your great love, The Lodge at Blue Sky – a 3,500-acre ranch-retreat in Utah’s Wasatch mountain range – is the stuff of bucket lists. Here, you’ll find a learning facility devoted to natural horsemanship. The Lodge is the only guest ranch in North America to have an on-site vet, with a care-first philosophy that runs throughout the experiences on offer. Rescue Horse Rehabilitation lets you participate in the care of a rescued or retired horse, learning how specific techniques can improve a horse’s quality of life (think grooming techniques to increase circulation and motion). There are also teaching modules in equine acupuncture, breathwork (you’ll follow guided practical exercises with a horse partner), and natural horsemanship – which shares a deeper explanation of how non-verbal communication can transform a human/horse relationship. It’s a beautiful activity, held in beautiful surroundings – it’s surreal to think that, come winter, the US ski team will be training on the same terrain.
High Life says: Lap up the impressive wellness offering. The Lodge has two pools – one, infinity-edged, another heated with a hot tub. There’s also a clifftop wellness spa, perched dramatically above Alexander Creek, offering out-of-the-ordinary classes – from aerial yoga to a workshop in Ayurvedic herbalism.
Try night bathing in a thermal spa in Vals, Switzerland
Plan a trip to Switzerland
Imagine slinking into an alpine thermal bath outside at midnight. The water is a delicious 33°C. All around you, there’s darkness. Perhaps you can make out mist hanging heavily on the pine trees… or see giant rock shadows looming in the distance. And what if you knew that, according to the illustrated novel (Swimming in Darkness) of French author Lucas Harari, every 100 years, one foreigner will get swallowed up into this mountain by a secret mouth that lies in wait? Don’t worry: it’s a work of fiction (we hope!), but this is an experience that enlivens the senses and the imagination. Even in daylight, the setting at 7132 is eerily hypnotic. Architect Peter Zumthor layered 60,000 slabs of quartzite so the walls look as if they’ve been sliced through rock; a design so iconic that the baths were granted protected heritage status. The network of highly mineralised spring water baths will take you from 42°C (the fire pool) to the most chilling thing of all – the ice pool.
High Life says: Expect wows at every turn. There’s an ESPA spa and a two-Michelin-starred restaurant, 7132 Silver. Chef Mitja Birlo only uses seasonal gems from the Vals region, such as wild herbs, mushrooms and berries.