Outside Europe and North America, there is a vast choice of ski resorts scattered across the Northern hemisphere: from just across the Mediterranean to the tip of far eastern Russia  - half the countries in the world have skiable mountains.

Despite widening interest in snow sports, facilities vary from state-of-the-art lifts and well groomed slopes to no infrastructure at all. There are modern resorts, which are quite easy to visit for those who want to travel and vary their skiing experience. Others destinations are best left to intrepid and determined ski adventurers.

There are plenty of places where reliable, up to date, first hand information is hard to come by, so do not hesitate to let us know about your experiences around the world.

The Northern Hemisphere: Japan, Korea, far eastern Russia, India, Nepal, China, Caucasus Mountains, Kazakhstan, Siberia, Middle East, and North Africa.


Japan

Japan is a top skiing nation with many resorts but it has problems. Numbers of skiers have fallen from 18.6 million in 1993 to 6.9 million in 2008. Despite this, Japan has twice hosted the Winter Olympics, at Sapporo in 1972 and Nagano in 1998, and they won 10 medals at the Vancouver Olympics.

Skiing in Hakuba, Japan

Skiing in Hakuba, Japan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To survive, resorts will have to generate an overseas clientele. It is only in recent years that they have felt it necessary to translate signs in English and more recently still, Chinese. Japan's ski scene is regularly visited by Australians, but still relatively unknown by Europeans. 

Hakuba is the most popular ski region in Honshu with several resorts dotted along 30 kilometres of mountains. The Olympic Downhill and Super Giant were held here in 1998. A day's lit pass costs £37.

Another popular ski area, Niseko is renowned for its excellent snow conditions with 16 metres per season. A day's skiing costs £47 and includes four interlinked resorts. 

Korea

Unlike Japan, skiing is on the rise in this beautiful mountain country, with 12 resorts already and more on the way. This success is underlined by Pyeongchang, with the nearby resort Yong Pyong, getting as far as the final selection for the 2014 Winter Olympics. In 2009 the World Biathlon Championships were held there.

A disadvantage for the experienced skier is the scarcity of off-piste skiing. Muju resort has six slopes divided into separate degrees of difficulty; the Silk Road Slope is Korea's longest course. Ch'onmasan is a small resort only 20 miles from Seoul and you can get there by bus or taxi.

China

The middle class is growing and not surprisingly there is strong growth in winter sports facilities. So far Chinese investors are cautious about the huge costs involved in state-of-the-art resorts. China's 2 million skiers have to make do with fairly hum drum facilities. Only 10 percent of them buy purpose made ski clothes.

Snowboarder at China Peak Mountain Resort

Snowboarder at China Peak Mountain Resort

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visits to resorts went up from 300,000 in 2000 to 3 million by 2005. To meet demand the Chinese government is planning 300 new resorts. The biggest destination is Beidahu in Jilin Province, which has installed the full range of ski and snowboard facilities. It hosted the Asian Winter Games in 2007.

Yabuli in Heilongjiang Province is China's first multiple ski resort region and a training base for the national winter sports team. An day's skiing here tacked onto a tour of China typically costs £98 including accommodation, breakfast, and all skiing costs. Wanlang is a developing resort four hours drive from Beijing. Nanshan is 37 miles from Beijing and has gone into partnership with Austrian Mellow Construction. There is now a terrain park with rails and an 80-metre halfpipe.

A step in the direction of modern facilities is the construction of the world's highest cable car built for the Dagu glacier in the Sichuan Dagu Natural Reserve, by Doppelmayr of Austria. It operates 300 days a year and provides unique access and views of 8000-metre peaks; there are oxygen masks available in the cable cars.

Caucasus Mountains

The destinations around the Caucasus Mountains, between the Black Sea and the Caspian, have superb snow and a great altitude, but limited resources and plenty of political problems too.

Dombay, Caucasus, Russia

Dombay, Caucasus, Russia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tsaghkadsor in Armenia is perhaps the most realistic destination in the region for foreign skiers. It was once the Olympic training centre under the old Soviet Union. Modern ski lifts have been installed and a great deal of development is underway. A one-day ski pass cost £2.

Gudauri is the best resort in Georgia with lifts and snow from December to April at 3000m; a day's ski pass is £14-15.

There are three resorts on the Russian side of these towering mountains. Mount Elbrus (5633m), higher than Mont Blanc, has year round snow and is the best known with growing numbers of visitors wanting to climb it. Mount Tcheget is perhaps the better resort. At the moment much of the appeal of the area is for ski mountaineering or heli-skiing. Gotorussia.co.uk has been dealing with the area since Soviet Times and says ski lifts are cheap, around £5 a day.

Far eastern Russia

The UNESCO world heritage Kamchatka peninsula, welcomes a handful of ski tourists every year who take to the snow to track down rare Amur tigers. There is no western-style purpose-built ski resort, so no ski lifts, just fantastic heli-skiing amidst smoking volcanoes and blazing blue skies. Sadly perhaps, it cannot be long before cash-rich Russia opens a ‘proper resort' here. The fact that during the Second World War the Soviet army trained 340,000 ski soldiers in 50 ski centres here gives some idea of the potential of the area.

Kazakhstan and Siberia

Kazakhstan is a pretty stable country and has got a fair resort at Chimbulak, only half an hour from Almaty city centre, and a day's ski pass costs £25. In Russian Siberia there is Dombaj on the Kazak border and Bobroviy Log in the Sayan Mountains.

Middle East and North Africa

Those who've been, recommend Iran with its very high altitude ski runs. Dizin is only an hour's drive from Teheran; a day's ski pass is £10. There are hotels and ski hire facilities. Nearby, Mount Damavand is 5671 metres. The après-ski is a quiet affair owing to Sharia law.

Turkey has several resorts but much lower and therefore the snow isn't as reliable. Kartalkaya is the biggest with 18 lifts. Elmadag is only minutes from Ankara. A weekend ski pass at Kartalkaya costs £37.

Mount Hermon, in Israel or occupied Syria, is where you will find the elite Israeli Alpine Regiment in training - when there is any snow.

Lebanon has six resorts of which Mzar is the best for foreign visitors, with international standards and a top altitude of 2456 metres; a day's ski pass is £37. Ski touring in Syria is also possible. In both countries the snow can be uncertain.

In Algeria thanks to the altitude, skiing on real snow at Chréa (2500m), 43 miles from Algiers, is a unique experience where foreigners are rare but welcome. Oukaimeden in Morocco has the distinction of being a ski resort where you can go up the mountain on a donkey, although there are ski lifts; a day's ski pass is £4.50.

India and Nepal

India has a population of one billion, a booming economy, and minimal resorts in the mighty Himalayan Mountains. At the moment cheap heli-touring is the sub continent's biggest skiing asset.

The little resort at Auli has been adjudged by visiting experts as a ski area potentially on a par with the best sites in the European Alps and it is only a matter of time before it is developed as a major resort. The 168-mile road up from the railway station at Haridwar can be hard going.

The gondola at Gulmarg (2766m) in Kashmir, built by French engineers, is the highest ski lift in the world. It offers breathtaking views over the Himalayas and takes you up to 3980 metres for only £2.50 per trip. From there you can go on foot to the summit of Mount Apharwat 4100m with a view of K2, given the right weather. Gulmarg was first skied by British officers and their families in the 1920s. The 30-mile road trip up from Srinagar is part of the attraction.

Visitors to the resort recommend mid-January to mid-February for the best snow. A recent firsthand account indicates that the experience is amazing but still a bit wild west. The resort has, until recently, suffered from its proximity to the troubles in Kashmir.

With eight of the highest mountains in the world, Nepal is a spectacular place to go for heli-skiing and there is plenty of room.