5 unlikely places you never knew you could ski
With Pipe Masters underway on Oahu, it’s evidence of another typical winter in the tropical paradise known as Hawaii, right? Well, sort of. Turns out it’s in stark contrast to the Big Island, which has just received six inches of snow and is expected to get as much as two feet by week’s end. Curiously again, it’s a little known regular occurrence. So with that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the five most unexpected places you can find snow. Better yet, you can ski them.
Less than 90 miles away from the warm barreling 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 come December through 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 a truck and hit the untouched back country one day, then jump on a 35-minute flight to Oahu and find yourself getting barreled in boardshorts on the North Shore the next. Who needs a hot tub when you’ve got the Pacific Ocean.
Like Hawaii, Greece is largely considered a summertime vacation, 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 for U.S. travelers, experiencing snowfall all the way through March. Better yet, because of the gluttony of choice in Europe and Greece’s flailing economy, it’s as uncrowded as it is cheap.
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 a bunch of fresh pow for the keen and fearless rider. Though lift safety leaves little to be desired…
Just a five-and-a-half-hour drive from San Antonio or a four-hour flight with stopover, 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 cheap, convenient and 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.
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 in excess of of 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?”