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Most unusual ski destinations

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hi all,


I'm not a regular on this site, but do drop by from time to time to lurk and research. I'm a writer currently working on a story I thought you guys might enjoy discussing—the world's most unusual ski destinations.


"Unusual" here could mean strange or unique in some way, but mainly means "unexpected." I'm including ski areas in Losotho, North Korea, Lebanon, etc. Probably also talk about Mauna Kea in Hawaii, Afghanistan, and a ski area in Sweden above the Arctic Circle. Might include that indoor one in Dubai, but I kind of hate to even talk about indoor skiing. It hurts my soul.

I thought the expert crew here might have some suggestions. Not asking for anyone to give away secrets, just hoping for a fun discussion and some new ideas. The world's a big place and there are some wacky places to ski out there. 

Anyone have any suggestions?


p.s. I'm heading out skiing for the rest of the day, but will circle back here tonight. 

post #2 of 16

There's actually already a book like this called Alpine Circus that includes skiing everything from Iran and Kilimanjaro to a runaway truck ramp. It was pretty entertaining.

post #3 of 16

Always a fun topic. What publication is it for? Is it only about ski areas, or any type of skiing? 


The resorts on Mt. Etna would be a fit. Skiing an active volcano, on an island (Sicily), with views of the sea sure fits "unusual". 


The Finnish resort with a sauna gondola. 


If you want to skip the well-known indoor Dubai area, you could focus on other structures with ski slopes. I know there's a cruise ship and there've been a few buildings with ski slope roofs lately. Recent thread with a couple links: 




If you're talking any skiing, I read an interesting article about skiing the high mountains of Mexico and saw a video of cave skiing in recent years.


Can you tell: I've thought about doing this very article :o 

post #4 of 16

Speaking of Etna


post #5 of 16

Mauna Kea for sure. Have actually skied there. Problems are, not very predictable when it'll snow (some years several times, some years not at all, snow seldom lasts more than a few days), you get to hike - or hitch a ride - for your turns, the razor sharp lava underneath the thin cover pretty much redefines what "rock ski" comes to mean, and it's all at 13,000 ft + so not a good venue for middle aged folks unless you've had a treadmill test for your heart recently. 


Pluses, besides the exclusive club, are the view, which literally seems to go forever in all directions, the wacky fellow skiers (don't even bother to show off your level whatever b.s.) , and the ability to ski in the morning and have a brew on the beach an hour later. 


Oh, and watching the baggage folks unload your ski bag. Priceless. :D


If you want more exclusivity yet, and have an unlimited travel budget, try western Sichuan. 

post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the ideas guys.


Abox: Alpine Circus had some good stories, if lots of fabricated details (I know the author and have skied some of the same places). Thanks for the suggestion.


Those are some great ideas JoeUT! Appreciate it. I need to keep the publication under wraps for now, but the article should be appearing online in about a month. Will be high-profile enough that you'll probably see it shortly thereafter—and might see one of your recommendations in it.


Thanks for the quality beta on Mauna Kea, beyond. That's good stuff. 

post #7 of 16

Asbestos tailings

post #8 of 16

Cool, look forward to checking it out. 

post #9 of 16

We had a fascinating thread on here last spring about a guy (European? named Starli) who travels to offbeat ski areas in Eastern Europe and over to Turkey and beyond;  e. g., Greece, Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia.  Had some great photo mash-ups of rugged ski terrain, old lifts, and minarets:  http://www.epicski.com/t/135359/mother-of-all-trip-reports

post #10 of 16

Korea (south); Lebanon; Oukaimeden, Morocco; what made many of these places even more interesting was using local gear including boots that were too small, crappy skis, plus trying to communicate while lacking the terminology in places where English wasn't spoken and my grasp of the local languages was quite iffy. Trondheim, Norway; Sweden including the small hill inside Stockholm. Outside Fairbanks, Alaska where they shut down the lifts when it was colder than 20°F below zero, which meant it was often closed. I've gone backcountry skiing in a lot of other out of the way places like Macedonia (FYROM). The wildest of which was trying to ski sand dunes in KSA--didn't work very well. One buddy skied in Iran, but I never made it there or Afghanistan either.

post #11 of 16
Hawaii. There's a rope tow on the top of the big volcano that can run for a few weeks in Feb
post #12 of 16

I guess it's not that exotic but in a otherwise very commersial skiing world I think the New Zealand club fields represents something different. 


For lodging the most used option is club style where one is assigned tasks like making breakfast, cleaning common areas, doing dishes or making dinner for a reduced accomodation fee. They deliver the groceries and one takes turns in making dinner for all of the guest from a recipe book. Nice for traveling alone cause it's impossible not get it contact with other people with that style of lodging. I spent three weeks traveling alone but never really felt alone. At Broken River it was like being adopted by a host family, and at the bigger Craigieburn it was more like a "school camp" for adults.


Lifts are rope tows that you connect to by a device called a nutcracker that you attach to a climbing harness or a belt. A bit of learning cure involved for most people. Passing the metal pulleys are scary at first, hands off.  They won't get get veritas approval anytime soon but they are reasonably fast and efficient ::D 




The engine running the rope tow at Craigieburn:



Terrain is superb for those that enjoy above treeline offpiste skiing.





No grooming machines. In certain snow conditions like very slushy, the resort staff would encourage people to straightline the lower section not to make it bumped up and get horrible when it would refreeze.


Some of the club field like Temple basin or Broken River are located a good distance from the nearest road. In the middle of the week was a strange mixture of young ski bums and retired people on fat skis.

Edited by Smear - 12/11/15 at 2:36pm
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone for the discussion. Here's the final piece:



post #14 of 16

Great article, thanks for posting!

post #15 of 16

Really nice article, thanks for posting.

post #16 of 16

National Geographic, wow. Was cool to see the NZ club fields mentioned in there :cool

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