Skiing in Lebanon ... there are six ski resorts just outside Beirut. Photo: Getty Images
"Committed" skiers and snowboarders love to boast, and they try to outdo each other on online forums around the world. We've put together an ultimate list of intrepid ski and board destinations, some in less than savoury war zones, to help the chest beating.
Be warned! If your idea of daring adventure is adding sugar to your latte at Perisher Mid Mountain Centre, this list is not for you.
There are no chairlifts in Afghanistan, yet. But with a guide and foot power you can hike to some skiable terrain in the Bamiyan region, provided your lungs can cope with the high altitude - it can rise to almost 5000 metres. (You could also hire a donkey to do the hard work for you.) If you're here in March then partake in the annual Afghan Ski Challenge or grab a copy of the White Silk Road documentary and live vicariously through Aussie snowboarders Clint and Mitch Allan and Nick Gregory, who did it all before you.
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One look at the Alborz mountains that rise from the city landscape of Tehran and the salubrious airport pat-downs and sickening jet lag will be worth it. Peaks here hit well over 3000 metres so prepare for altitude at the ski resorts that service urbanites looking for powder respite.
Dizin is the most popular and is home to three gondolas and 12 chairlifts. You won't find an apres bar serving schnapps, obviously, but nor will you find gender-divided lift lines any more. The lifts and runs here used to be dedicated male or female. Australian ski guide John Falkiner offers guided snow trips to Iran when there are enough willing skiers or boarders
The people of once war torn Beirut know how to party. There's a reason the city has been named one of the top 10 liveliest cities in the world by Lonely Planet. So expect good times at any of the six commercial ski resorts on offer, some within an hour of the city centre. Mzaar resort is closest and Cedars is the highest in the Mount Lebanon range with an altitude of over 3000 metres. John Falkiner also offers guided snow trips here.
If you're looking for luxury don't come here. The ski resort of Gulmarg, on the border of Kashmir, comes with a gun-laden army, hot water that doesn't always work, an altitude of over 4000 metres when hitting the peaks off the gondola and a lot of untrained ski guides. Luckily for you the Hotham snow patroller Bill 'dreamboat dreddy' Barker runs guided all-inclusive ski tours here to ensure you're in the safest hands and that the hot water works. Take your old ski gear and donate it to the local kids who don't have the funds to enjoy what is in their own backyard.
Nothing like a shot of ouzo to ease the burning thigh pain and where better than Greece to get both? Think of skiing in Greece more as a day pastime rather than a snow holiday destination. You won't get Utah's dry powder but you will get dinner party kudos when you drop the ski resort of Kaimaktsalan on the Macedonian border into conversation.
The Swat Valley of Pakistan was once the ritziest ski resort in the country. OK, it was the only ski resort in the country. Then the Taliban took over and used it as a training base. The Australian government would suggest you don't travel here, and I am certainly not encouraging you to, but should your brain be wired incorrectly then know that you can ski in the shadows of the ruins of a 50-room hotel and that the chairlift is broken, correction, the chairlift has been raided for metal. The locals are friendly and will run alongside you as you hike to get in some turns.
Sky Resort in Ulaanbaatar opened in 2009 and offers two chairlifts and five to nine runs. This is a strictly beginner to intermediate zone, with limited vertical, and added snowmaking to ensure coverage. Do expect designer ski gear worn by newly cashed-up locals.
Kiwi ski and mountain guide Kevin Boekholt spends winter in New Zealand with Methven heli-ski followed by winter guiding in Canada with CMH. Come May you'll find him in Greenland guiding heli-ski guests on runs from mountain peaks on remote islands down to the ocean complete with arctic wild life (think polar bears).
Ski mountaineer Chris Davenport has skiied many first descents in Antarctica where runs are accessed by anything from a short hike to a long ice climb. He has been known to guide cashed up tourists on the Australis who pay big bucks for an ocean passage from South America to Antarctica.
There's powder in Bolivia and then there's powder. Be sure you get the right one or you may end up here for life. The ''world's highest ski resort'' of Chacaltaya sits at 5400+ metres overlooking the city of La Paz. The glacier that once provided the one run, one chairlift skiing option has disappeared in the past five years. If you're lucky there may be a spot of natural snow to make a turn or two. At this altitude it will be all you can manage without an oxygen tank.
Of course you could just go skiing in Australia. The resorts are having the best season since the legend of 2000, with powder storms every week in August.
Thredbo has received over 380 centimetres of snowfall to date with one storm delivering 90 centimetres in three days, and the Victorian resort of Hotham has had over 340 centimetres of snowfall. Qantas Link has direct fly-in, ski-out flights, 80 minutes tarmac to tarmac, from Sydney to Hotham until September 9, so there are snow excuses to ''chuck a snowie''.
Would you go skiing/riding in a war torn country for boasting rights alone? What is your idea of a skiing and snowboarding adventure at home and abroad? Where are other intrepid locations that you would like to ski/ride? Comment on our blog and share your thoughts.
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