10 places you never knew you could ski
From Iran to Israel, we take a look at the most exotic ski resorts in the world.
Everyone knows you can ski in the French Alps or the Canadian Rockies, but you’ll also find ski resorts in places better known for sun and sand than they are for snow.
The Himalayan ski resort of Gulmarg, in Indian-administered Kashmir, is fast becoming the coolest kid on the block for the adventurous ski set.
If the idea of skiing amongst monkeys and machine guns doesn’t appeal, then Kashmir is best avoided; but if it’s adventure you’re after, Gulmarg offers perhaps the finest lift-accessed powder slopes in the world. The Kashmiri curries aren’t bad either.
Of the six ski resorts in Lebanon, it’s Mzaar which is the most developed. With 18 lifts and a maximum altitude of 2465m, it’s popular with the cool Beirut crowd who come to ski, party and ‘be seen’ at weekends.
This Italian island in the Mediterranean normally brings to mind sun and sand but you can also ski atop volcanic Mount Etna at one of two ski centres. However, skiers better be careful here; when Mount Etna blows her top you don’t want to be anywhere nearby. In previous eruptions the lift infrastructure has been damaged by lava flows so check the volcano forecast before donning your ski boots!
On top of sacred Mount Hermon you’ll find Israel’s only ski area. With nearly 28 miles of ski runs, the terrain is ample for intermediates, though apparently lower runs can get clogged with beginner Israelis skiing in jeans.
Another Mediterranean Island where you can ski on the mountain and swim in the sea on the same day, Cyprus has a ski resort as well as its famous beaches. Mount Olympus provides the beautiful setting for skiing here in the Troodos Mountains and though the season is shorter than on the European mainland, the views from the top are well worth the trip.
There are several resorts on the Australian mainland, but little Tassy also offers all the facilities needed for a great ski trip. Ben Lomond is the best resort on the island and boasts a handful of drag lifts as well as accommodation and eateries. Being in the southern hemisphere, the ski season runs from July to September.
Iran may bring to mind hot weather and accusations of being an Axis of Evil, but the country has huge mountains rising to over 5000m and offers some excellent skiing.
There are two main resorts, Dizin and Shemshak, both of which are just two hours from Tehran. Due to strict Islamic laws, some resorts have separate ski lifts for men and women.
8. South Korea
The Asian ski boom that began in Japan in the ‘80s spread to neighbouring South Korea soon after. South Korea has 12 resorts but although winters in the country are very cold, snow is not particularly heavy, so you’re unlikely to get many powder days on a ski trip here. There have even been rumours that Kim Jong-il has his own private ski resort in North Korea.
This tiny but proud country is said to have one of the best ski areas in the Balkans: Brezovica. They even have a facebook with over 20,000 fans (in comparison, Val D’isere in France, one of the most popular ski resorts in Europe, only has 5800 fans) so they must be doing something right!
10. South Africa
Skiing? In South Africa? Yup. Tiffindell is the country’s only ski resort and plays host to the South African ski and snowboarding championships each year. Established in 1993, the resort is built on Ben Macdhui and has a relatively high elevation of 2810m. Compared to skiing in Europe, things here are basic, but if you’re heading to the area in winter (our summer), the chance to say “I’ve skied South Africa” is just too good to miss.
Kashmir picture © SnowSphere.com
Iran picture © Fabien Khan
Author: Sam Bauldwin