We will be the first to admit that summer doesn't necessarily conjure images of snow-capped peaks. Don't hang up those skis just yet, though! The mercury might be rising here, but in the southern hemisphere it's taking a dip, and that means only one thing for Alpine addicts: ski season. Here's a look at the southern hemisphere's stellar ski spots - for advance and beginners alike.
Valle Nevado, Chile
Look no further than Xbox 360's "Amped 3" for a feel for Chile's Valle Nevado: The Andes resort was featured in the video game along with several other top snowboarding spots. Nestled some 37 miles outside Santiago with 7,000 acres of skiable domain, Valle Nevado is the largest ski destination in South America and - with the area's only high-speed detachable quad - arguably the most modern. For a location that can't be beat, stay at Puerta del Sol Hotel with its no-stress ski-in and ski-out access. (vallenevado.com; chileanski.com/engvalle-nevado/hotels/puerta-delsol.htm; lift ticket: $73.)
Falls Creek, Australia
In Southeast Australia, the Australian Alps offer daily downhill doses that rival North America's own. Located four-and-a-half hours outside Melbourne, Falls Creek remains the jewel of this mountain range. And with good reason: The resort boasts 92 alpine runs-largely catering to beginner and intermediate levels - with 13-foot snowfall averages and peaks topping 6,043 feet. Ski season officially kicks off here on June 11, with cross-country trail fees being waived for winter 2011. Find further bargains at the Huski Hotel, which offers competitive ski-stay deals. (fallscreek.com.au; huski.com.au; lift ticket: $115.)
Cerro Catedral, Argentina
No wonder Cerro Catedral translates as "Mount Cathedral." Skiing down this Northern Patagonian mountain with the pristine backdrop of Nahuel Huapi Lake is indeed a religious experience. Each August, snow spirits rise even more thanks to the 10-day National Snow Festival in nearby Bariloche, making it an ideal time to ski Cerro Catedral's 53 trails by day and toast the snow gods at night while enjoying the area's thriving apräs-ski scene. Look for a hotel that provides daily shuttle service to Cerro Catedral, like the historic Llao Llao Hotel and Resort (left). (catedralaltapatagonia.com; llaollao.com; lift ticket: $45-$55)
Coronet Peak, New Zealand
Warning: Skiing in New Zealand's South Island might ruin the sport for you - your next downhill destination will have a hard time competing with these marvelous mountains. One of the island's most popular ski spots, Coronet Peak offers a prolonged snow season, varied terrain, speedy lifts and proximity to Queensland. Stay at the sleek Queenstown Park Hotel, where you can book various ski packages for Coronet Peak and the surrounding heli-ski areas. (nzski.com/coronet;queenstownparkhotel.co.nz;lift ticket: $75)
Looks like nature has some steep competition! Year-round skiing soon will be possible at several indoor parks in the works. In the U.S, indoor skiing action is slated for Las Vegas' Wet theme park, New Jersey's American Dream Meadowlands and North Carolina's Westmoreland Ski Resort.
Among existing venues, Ski Dubai has received the most buzz. Opened in 2005, Ski Dubai has five runs, a regulated day temperature of 30¯ and a Snow Park complete with ice slides, a snowman-building area and more. Jackets, pants and socks are included in the ski-pass cost. (skidubai.com; $180/$33 for Snow Park admittance)