My daughter and I would love to do some skiing in Europe, but it looks like we will not have time to do anything before the summer holiday. We have, however, heard that skiing in summer is possible. Can you help?
Mrs P Stone
Jill Crawshaw replies: Though the usual ski season finishes in mid-April (and at the end of March in lower resorts), very high ski stations, particularly those with glaciers, do remain open throughout the summer. Otherwise, some of them just close for lift and ski piste maintenance before reopening at the end of June for summer skiers.
I myself have been summer skiing in Kaprun in Austria and in Tignes in France; it was perfectly satisfactory and my advice is to get out on to the slopes as early as possible in the morning - there's very little skiing possible after lunch when the thick soupy snow is unpleasant and can even be dangerous.
In France the resorts where you'll find lifts, ski hire and facilities in the summer include Tignes (all the year round and on the glacier), Val Thorens in the Trois Vallees, Les Deux Alpes and La Plagne which closes in May or June and reopens in August.
Two high-altitude Swiss resorts (both closed for lift servicing in May and part of June) are Zermatt and Saas Fee. Saas Fee tends to attract more snowboarders and ski teams because of its highly dramatic glacier, while Zermatt has more and longer runs for recreational skiers. Unlike the French resorts, the Swiss as well as the Austrians have lots of other activities on offer, plus an abundance of mountain restaurants. You could also expect to find some summer skiing on the glaciers in Les Diablerets and on the Jungfraujoch above Wengen, and at Crans Montana.
Two popular Austrian winter sport resorts offer year-round skiing: the Kitzsteinhorn glacier is easily accessible from Kaprun (about three miles away) and the lively Zell am See, an old medieval town which also has boating and sailing on its lake as well as a fairly active nightlife. It's about eight miles from the glacier, but there's a regular bus service. The Hintertux Glacier in the Ziller Valley is easily accessible from Mayrhofen, another Austrian resort that remains busy throughout the year. If you prefer to break new ice though, so to speak, the Dachstein Glacier in Styria is far less known to British skiers and Schladming is an attractive unspoilt base (closed much of April), still fairly folksy despite being the birthplace of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The Austrian National Tourist Office also tells me that you would find summer skiing in Kaunertal, the Pitztal and on Carinthia's Molltal Glacier.
Though ski firms don't sell summer skiing packages as such, French specialist VFB (01242 240332) offers a range of Alpine activities including easy summer skiing on the Mont-de-Lans glacier on its France Active programme based at Les Deux Alpes. Accommodation is in small hotels, chalets or apartments, with prices ranging from about pounds 400 a week for a family until 15 July. The following tourist offices will supply information and brochures to the resorts I have mentioned. France: 0891 244 123 (Premium Line); Switzerland: 0171 734 1921; Austria: 0171 629 0461.
Jill Crawshaw is a travel expert, writer and broadcaster.
How best to buy a second-hand car for the USA?
I am travelling to the US this summer and would like to buy a second-hand vehicle for the duration of my visit. How would I go about doing this?
The travel editor replies: A much simpler alternative to buying a vehicle is to do a "drive away". This service, provided by the AAA and AutoDriveaway, enables the traveller to drive cars to and from a given point, paying only for the price of petrol. For information, phone AutoDriveaway on (312) 341 1900.
If you still want to buy however, the main sources are used car lots, individuals who advertise in local newspapers and motor vehicle dealerships - the latter being a more expensive but more reliable option.
Bear in mind that you can use "diagnostic centres" which will check the condition of your prospective purchase for around $50. The American Automobile Association (AAA) (tel 407 447000, fax 470 4447143) should be able to refer you to a local approved centre.
Having found a reliable vehicle, there are quite a few bureaucratic obstacles to get through: these include registration; application for a title (certificate of ownership); taxes; and insurance.
Each state requires that a vehicle be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DOMV) for the state where it was purchased. Rules, methods, taxes and fees varying from state to state - ask car dealers for advice.
All states require some proof of ownership for the vehicle. This is usually done at the time of registration and incurs an additional fee. When purchasing a used vehicle, be sure to obtain either a bill of sale (in some states) or the certificate of title issued to the original owner. As regards tax, your bill of sale should indicate the amount.
All states require motor vehicle insurance, proof of which must be given with the application for registration. Premium rates vary from area to area. Insurance is usually issued for six months or a year.
The Temporary US Automobile Insurance Program is available to foreign nationals while they are tourists in the US. It can be purchased for 30, 60 or 90-day periods. For information, telephone 302 761 3107 or contact the AAA on arrival. If a purchaser is under 25, insurance must be obtained through an independent agency.Reuse content