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5 unlikely places you never knew you could ski

Words: Josh Rakic
Photography: Getty Images/ Icon Sports Wire

Find powder in the most unlikely of places from Iran to Greece to Hawaii 
1. Big Island, Hawaii
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© George Mitchell

Less than 90 miles away from the warm barrelling waters of Maui, the last place you’d expect snow would be Hawaii’s Big Island. Especially considering it’s the home of the world’s largest active volcano in Mauna Loa and its sibling Mauna Kea. But reaching altitudes of around 14,000 feet, both volcanoes regularly turn into an unexpected winter wonderland between December and February each year, welcoming in excess of two feet of skiable snow. Better yet, with no resorts, lifts, machines or groomers, it’s reserved only for the experienced and the adventurous. Hire an car and hit the untouched back country one day, then jump on a 35-minute flight to Oahu and find yourself getting barrelled in boardshorts on the North Shore the next. Who needs a hot tub when you’ve got the Pacific Ocean.

2. Greece
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© Katia Katerina

Like Hawaii, Greece is largely considered a summertime location, laden with the white clifftop villas of the Greek Islands and crystal clear waters. You shamelessly put on the pounds immersed in a world of charcuterie plates, seafood, wine and olives by the sea, but Greece proper is no stranger to snow in the colder months. In fact, the slopes of the Parnassos ski resort are comparable to those of Italy. Standing at about 5,000 feet above sea level and offering 19 runs and almost as many lifts - its longest coming in at over 2.5 miles - Parnassos is an untapped treasure with snowfall all the way until March. 

3. Iran
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© Emesik

Three words typically come to mind when conjuring images of Iran - war, oil and desert. But sandwiched between the Persian Gulf and just 90 minutes from capital Tehran is Shemshak - a modest ski resort more akin to Big Bear than Aspen, which is reminiscent of a James Bond filming location. It’s one of two popular ski resorts in northern Iran, offering groomed slopes and plenty of untouched backcountry with fresh snow for the keen and fearless rider. Though lift safety could be better. 

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4. Monterreal, Mexico
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© Courtesy of Unsplash/ Pixabay

The Monterreal Ski Resort may be modest but its runs are well up to standard. Taking on no shortage of snow over December and January, it makes for a unique skiing experience. And with onsite stone cabins surrounded by the Sierra Madre Oriental Mountains, it’s a ski resort like no other - with tacos to boot.

5. India
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© Rudolph A. Furtado

With a humidity that makes Florida look tame and traffic congestion that puts LA to shame, it’s easy to forget that northern India is at foothills of the Himalayas. And although the country boasts a population of more than 1.2 billion, the unlikely slopes of the Solang Valley, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir are significantly uncrowded by comparison. As the Gulmarg Ski Resort website puts it, what better place to go if you’re looking for an experience that includes “big mountain skiing, powder, backcountry, avalanches, men with guns, poverty, filth, driving chaos, random acts, culture, hawkers, Russians, beggars, colonialism, Ukrainians, monkeys and culinary mysteries all in one?”

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