“Nature has no bad weather,” and each season has its own special charm. So, if summer attracts with beaches and warm sea, then winter has other treasures in store. The cold is the best time to go high, high to the mountains, where fresh snow glistens in the sun, and the blue sky is ringing from frost, to ski or snowboard all day, and bask in the evenings by the fireplace with a glass of mulled wine. In anticipation of the upcoming snow season, we have compiled a brief overview of 10 Russian and foreign resorts for active winter recreation.
Krasnaya Polyana, Sochi
The first holiday home appeared in the Western Caucasus in 1924, and after the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Krasnaya Polyana blossomed and in just a few years managed to earn a reputation as the best ski resort in Russia. Modern tracks of different difficulty levels with comfortable lifts, an extreme park with jumps, and most importantly, a well-developed infrastructure with a good road from the airport, hotels, bars and restaurants of the international level and the largest equipment rental point in Russia. There are four chairlifts at the main ski resort Alpika-Service, and the total length of the slopes is 14 km with a vertical drop of 1680 meters. The skiing season lasts from November to May.
The rocky and treeless Khibiny Mountains were conceived by the forces of nature as a volcano, but the streams of incandescent magma could not break through to the surface, but only formed a huge hillock with a diameter of 50 km on the Kola Peninsula. Snow fields packed by blizzards allow you to go where your eyes are, the width of the tracks here is absolutely unlimited. The Khibiny Mountains are located beyond the Arctic Circle, and from December 14 to January 4, the sun does not appear above the horizon, but you can ride on well-lit trails at night. Also, jumping jumps were built here, and in 1990 the Khibiny became the Russian base for Olympic training in freestyle. There are six drag lifts and one chair lift on the Aykuayvenchorr mountain, and the total length of trails is 30 km. The skiing season lasts from October to May.
The Zabljak resort is one of the highest mountain towns in the Balkans, it is located at an altitude of 1465 m, and buses run from all city hotels to the ski lifts. The ski slopes on the slopes of Durmitor National Park are great for beginners in snowboarding and skiing. There are adult and children’s lifts on the three main slopes, there are several ski and snowboard schools and a large selection of rental equipment. Some of the trails are illuminated, while the rest are open from 10 am to 4 pm. The length of the longest slope downhill Savin Kuk is 3500 meters. The skiing season lasts from December to April.
The sunny Bakuriani valley is surrounded by the ridges of the Greater Caucasus, due to which the weather there is almost always calm, and the sun shines 210 days a year. It is on the peaks of the Bakurian Mountains that the famous springs of the Borjomi mineral water originate. The main descent from Mount Kokhta is a 1,800-meter long trail that begins with a steep and hilly section and then turns into a plateau. Beginners should not climb to the highest station, it is better to ride from the middle of the mountain, but thrill-seekers can go down the difficult slope of Mount Mitarbi, but only accompanied by an instructor-guide. In Bakuriani, a half-pipe, a border cross were built, and there are also three jumps: 45 m, 70 m and 90 m. The skiing season lasts from late November to late March.
The Pirin mountain range is a UNESCO Bulgarian reserve, and the ancient town of Bansko at the foot of its northern slopes could be an architectural museum of the Renaissance, every local house is so beautiful and authentic. There are tracks of all difficulty levels, as well as excellent conditions for freeriding. A special night trail with bright illumination is open for skiing 24 hours a day. Instructors work on the tracks for beginners, including Russian-speaking ones. Every year a lot of snow falls here, and special snow cannons increase the length of natural trails by almost a third. The total length of all tracks is 56 km. The skiing season in Bansko is the longest in Bulgaria – from December to May.
Paz De La Casa, Andorra
Pas De La Casa is the largest resort in Andorra in terms of slopes and pistes. Two ski centers and four snowy valleys are connected by an extensive network of lifts starting at one point, which is especially convenient for motley companies – you can ski on slopes of different levels of difficulty, but meet in one place. There is a separate snowboard park and half-pipe, as well as 24-hour lighted trails. For fans of slalom and downhill skiing, there is also expanse here – steep sections of wide tracks alternate with gentle, safe plateaus. There are 55 ski slopes with a total length of 100 km. The skiing season is from December to April.
The picturesque valley near the Hohe Zalve mountain range includes nine resorts; among them is the cozy village of Söll with mountain huts and friendly hosts, visiting which it is easy to feel at home. In general, the resort is ideal for relaxed skiing and family recreation – there are a lot of simple but long slopes, schools for adults and a children’s ski club. For active youth, a fan park and half-pipe have been built, as well as brightly lit night trails. The total length of well-groomed ski slopes is 250 km, on sunny days, of which there are many, 160 km of slopes are served by snow cannons. The best skiing season is from January to early March.
The Italian Dolomites is a super-resort that unites the ski areas of twelve famous ski resorts in Italy. There is also a merry-go-round of slopes that has become an attraction, along which you can move in a circle in both directions. 500 km of trails with a well-thought-out system of lifts was called the Sella Ronda circumnavigation of the world, easier trails go counterclockwise, steeper and more interesting slopes go clockwise, in both cases you can walk the whole circle in a whole day and return home tired but full of impressions. The total length of all tracks on which the single ski pass Dolomiti Superski operates exceeds 1200 km. The ski season is from November to April.
The Himalayas are the highest mountains on earth, but there are few ski resorts here, the largest is in the Indian state of Kashmir. The main advantage of the local slopes is untouched open spaces for skiing on powder, vast snow fields, a large difference in elevation and forest areas devoid of undergrowth. Since the local population is not particularly fond of skiing, the slopes are very free, and the snow that has fallen lies untouched for a long time. The cable car lifts the rest in closed six-seater cabins, and drag lifts lead to the trails for beginners. The total length of the cable car is 5 km. The skiing season runs from mid-December to March.
Toshal, Iran’s closest ski resort to Tehran, was affectionately dubbed by the residents of the capital “home”. Alpine snow here is very fine and dry, for which it is especially appreciated by lovers of freeriding. The longest gondola lift in the world stretches to the top of the slopes – a trip of 8 km gives an excellent chance to admire the landscape, gradually flowing from the sandy desert into endless snow fields. Steep walls with slopes of different difficulty levels descend from 3850 m to 1600 m.The total length of the tracks is 17 km. The skiing season is the longest in Iran – from mid-November to the end of April.