Most unusual ski destinations

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Most unusual ski destinations

Postby digaaron » Fri Dec 04, 2015 12:41 pm

Hi all,

I'm a writer working on a story I thought you guys might enjoy discussing—the world's most unusual ski destinations. "Unusual" here could also mean "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'm not a big web forum person, but I've enjoyed this one over the years as a lurker and for research. I thought the expert crew here might have some suggestions.

Btw, was scanning the archives and read the discussion about smallest ski hills. I'm from Minneapolis originally (live in Missoula now), have skied Buck Hill plenty, and am a huge Replacements/Husker Du/Big Star guy. Was fun to see there are some other diehard fans on the board.

Anybody have any ideas for unusual ski destination?
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Re: Most unusual ski destinations

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Dec 04, 2015 1:47 pm

You might start by browsing the Google Earth kml file of ~1,880 ski areas around the world which I created with some assistance from a couple of FTO contributors: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/ski-sn ... downloads/

The pins are in the ski terrain, not the resort towns. Zooming in and using Google Earth features you can see steepness, slope aspects and altitude range of the ski terrain. In high resolution you can generally see buildings and lifts as well.

During the process or researching the Google Earth project, we found http://www.skiresort.info/ to be the most useful source of basic information about ski resorts, large, small and obscure, around the world.
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Re: Most unusual ski destinations

Postby digaaron » Sat Dec 05, 2015 10:04 pm

Thanks for the tips Tony. Looks like two quality resources.
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Re: Most unusual ski destinations

Postby Admin » Sat Dec 05, 2015 10:18 pm

And FWIW, Crocker failed to mention that he's skied Antarctica.
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Re: Most unusual ski destinations

Postby Tony Crocker » Sun Dec 06, 2015 3:21 pm

Admin wrote:And FWIW, Crocker failed to mention that he's skied Antarctica.

I'll have to think about putting SkiMap pins down there. :-k

FYI the annual Ice Axe Antarctic cruises are still happening. Unfortunately what cost us the bargain price of $7,600pp in 2011 will be over $11,000pp in 2016.
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Re: Most unusual ski destinations

Postby digaaron » Mon Dec 07, 2015 6:01 pm

Yeah, that's a ski trip I've long wanted to do.
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Re: Most unusual ski destinations

Postby Patrick » Tue Dec 08, 2015 2:59 pm

digaaron wrote:Hi all,

I'm a writer working on a story I thought you guys might enjoy discussing—the world's most unusual ski destinations. "Unusual" here could also mean "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.

Anybody have any ideas for unusual ski destination?


I've been working on my own ski map which I started years' ago. I've finished to map all African ski areas; also got the ones from Georgia, Armenia and a few of the Stans. A bunch of none lift served places in India. There are so many place that you can ski on snow. If you look in the oldest posts from this forum, you see someone actually skied in Ireland. For the Americas, other than the Canada, US, Chile, Argentina, people have also skied in Mexico, Venezuela, Equador, Bolivia and Peru. Elsewhere there is talk of a mythical ski area (with lifts) that might have existed in Indonesia. I've been researching for it for years, I found the location, but no clear evidence that it is still in operation or that it ever operated. Also found that there was ski areas in Iraq.
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Re: Most unusual ski destinations

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Dec 08, 2015 10:27 pm

I generally limited the Google Earth project to lift service. I did include quite a few snowcat and heli ski areas. I also a list I found of the top 10 indoor areas.

As for backcountry, that could be infinite, anywhere that holds snow. That's why I didn't pin the 6 locations I skied in Antarctica. I should make a different kml file of the places I've skied (195 and counting) sometime.

As for Indonesia I was scuba diving there in 2012 and will be there again this March. The only snow in Indonesia would be at Carstanz Pyramid on the Indonesian (west) side of New Guinea. Carstanz is at 16,000 feet: more modest mountains at 10-12K aren't good enough near the equator.
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Re: Most unusual ski destinations

Postby Admin » Tue Dec 08, 2015 10:39 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:As for Indonesia I was scuba diving there in 2012 and will be there again this March. The only snow in Indonesia would be at Carstanz Pyramid on the Indonesian (west) side of New Guinea. Carstanz is at 16,000 feet: more modest mountains at 10-12K aren't good enough near the equator.


I've heard the same rumors regarding Indonesia as Patrick, but I've never been able to nail it down conclusively.

http://www.theperfectsnow.com.au/blog/u ... i-resorts/

http://snowbrains.com/2nd-highest-ski-r ... indonesia/
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Re: Most unusual ski destinations

Postby Marc_C » Wed Dec 09, 2015 11:02 am

Admin wrote:
Tony Crocker wrote:As for Indonesia I was scuba diving there in 2012 and will be there again this March. The only snow in Indonesia would be at Carstanz Pyramid on the Indonesian (west) side of New Guinea. Carstanz is at 16,000 feet: more modest mountains at 10-12K aren't good enough near the equator.


I've heard the same rumors regarding Indonesia as Patrick, but I've never been able to nail it down conclusively.


Carstensz Pyramid is quite the challenge:

From: http://7summits.com/carstensz/ (or from Summitpost.org - the text is identical, so someone plagiarized the other)

7 Summits wrote: This is technically the hardest of the 7 summits. Although Dick Bass climbed Kosciuszko as the last of his 7 summits quest, this is in fact the highest mountain of the oceanic continent, but the discussion is still going on.

Many sides of the story can be found on this forum discussion as well as in this FAQ on 7summits.com.

First climbed by Heinrich Harrer who wrote his book "I come from the stone age" about this period. It's a steep granite wall with sharp good climbable rock. Only a few hundred people have climbed Carstensz due to the political instability and the fact that it is hidden in dense jungle. Be prepared to climb in snow, rain, with your gloves being torn by the sharp rock, while seeing the Freeport company tearing down other nearby mountains, the last glaciers near the equator and men wearing nothing but penisgourds!

Short history
Irian Jaya is Indonesia's "wild east". Much of it was still unexplored by outsiders as recently as the 1930s. The Dutch began serious exploration in about 1898. After the Indonesians defeated the Dutch in 1949 and 1950, the Dutch insisted on keeping Irian Jaya. They finally gave up the colony in 1963, under a combination of military and diplomatic pressure.

In 1969, a UN-sponsored referendum of village elders led to Irian Jaya becoming a province of Indonesia. Since that time, more noticeably since the late 1970s, there have been separatist movements seeking to make Irian Jaya an independent country, particularly the OPM or "Organisasi Papua Merdeka" guerilla group.

Under the Dutch in the 1930s, Irian Jaya or West New Guinea was a place to which many political prisoners were sent. Mohammed Hatta and Sutan Sjahrir, nationalist leader who were later major figures in the independence struggle, were sent to the Boven Digul prison camp in the southeast of the region.

Jayapura is the main city. It was formerly called Hollandia by the Dutch. Allied (American and Australian) forces passed through here in 1944 on the way to the reconquest of the Philippines. Irian Jaya province was officially renamed Papua on December 31, 1999. (Above was taken from this website)


Approach
The mountain is about 100kms from the nearest sea. It has taken a few expeditions in the 1930's to get even close to the base as the explorers had to find their way across steep walls and dense jungle. Heinrich Harrer used local tracks coming from North of the range.

Old climber's route: in the old days the Freeport mine gave permission to use their road to the mine. This is a long gravel road all the way from Timika at the coast through and over the mountains. You pass Tembagapura, which is a 20,000 people town in the middle of the mountains, built especially for the miners. The road continues up the mountain, through some tunnels until it ends up at the pit. Instead of driving through the tunnels you can also use the Swiss made cable car to get from 2700m to 3500m quickly. At the east side of the the pit is a narrow muddy track where you enter the park.

From the mine it is a few hours walking to the mountain. You climb up a muddy track, pass the "Zebra Wall" en continue along some small lakes in the Merenvalley until you climb up to the Basecamp valley.

Beware that this route takes you from sea level to BC within 7 hours if you do not sleep at Zebra Wall and severe altitude problems can occur for the not acclimatized. Even when sleeping at Zebra wall (3700m) this is a serious problem.

Because the miners don't like too many nosey people in this polluting place anymore the only option is to do a 5 day trekking from Ilaga through the jungle, moors and hills of Irian Jaya or take a helicopter ride to Zebra Wall In 2002 the regular trekking route has changed again as it is getting harder and harder to find a way around the bureaucracy, war zones and the powerful Freeport mine.

The alternative route through Singa village is now also forbidden, so effectively the mountain is closed until further notice. UPDATE: New trips available now! (Check out the 7 summits trips pages for more detailed itineraries of previous organized trips and dates of future trips if any).

Permits
You need several permits from different places (ministries, army, police etc) to travel to the island in general and climbing the mountain specifically. Permits are very hard to get, best is to team up with an organized trip as it will cost you months, even years to organize it yourself and even then the permits may not be valid when you get there... Also as happened often the last few years, the entire area can be sealed off without warning and all permits will be void if anything happens. Irian Jaya wants to be independent since 1969 and the free Papua movement (OPM) sometimes attacks Indonesians or Westerners to attract attention for their cause. Even though most actions are peaceful, like raising the Papua flag, this is enough reason fro the Indonesian army to seal the area for an indefinite period of time, which has happened last year and is still going on. Currently the Ilaga, Singa and mine routes are all closed due to the violence in the country; the only possibility for climbing Carstensz is to fly in and out the area by helicopter. But you still need a permit and these are not being issued right now. --> Check your insurance if they cover traveling here as many governments have issued a 'negative travel advice' for Irian Jaya and most insurers do NOT pay out if this is the case and something happens when you are there!


Seems like it might not hold sufficient snow:

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Re: Most unusual ski destinations

Postby Patrick » Wed Dec 09, 2015 3:12 pm

About Indonesia, I've seen the potential area where this could have been (there is still snowpatches on Google), but the access is a challenge.
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Re: Most unusual ski destinations

Postby digaaron » Wed Dec 09, 2015 10:28 pm

I've seen the reports of the Indonesian area, too. Fascinating stuff. I might include it in my article just for fun. We'll see.
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Re: Most unusual ski destinations

Postby digaaron » Thu Dec 10, 2015 5:17 pm

After some more research, it appears the Indonesian "resort" did indeed exist for a few years in the 1970s. Run by a crazy Scotsman. But climate change has nuked the glaciers and an enormous nearby gold mine has made access to the area nearly impossible, due to restricted access and conflict with disgruntled locals who periodically kill people traveling the road. So my dreams of one day skiing Indonesia may be permanently extinguished.
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Re: Most unusual ski destinations

Postby Admin » Thu Dec 10, 2015 6:43 pm

We know that all Scots are nuts, right, Q?
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Re: Most unusual ski destinations

Postby digaaron » Thu Dec 10, 2015 7:14 pm

saw something right after I posted this that indicated the lifts ran at this area until only a few years ago. Sounds like the mine was the thing that really killed it, though the melting glaciers would have done the same soon regardless.
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