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SKIING IN IRAN - Jane Peel, PlanetSKI Chief Reporter
Monday May 16, 2016 - Email this article to a friend

Great food, great culture with acres of untracked powder on empty mountains. Mountain Heaven is offering holidays to Iran next season.

It may not be the first place you think of for a snowsports holiday.

However next season PlanetSKI partner, Mountain Heaven, is running two escorted trips to Iran.

The eight-day holidays will depart on 24th February and 4th March 2017 and visit the three ski resorts - Dizin, Shemshak and Darbandsar.

Skiing in IranSkiing & snowboarding in Iran

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iran beckonsIran beckons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There will also be sightseeing in the capital Tehran, and in the city of Esfahan - known for its grandeur, bazaars and UNESCO-listed central square. 

Esfahana, IranEsfahana, Iran

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The country is more accessible to outsiders than it has been in decades and, according to Nick Williams of Mountain Heaven, the skiing is "fantastic".

Nick, who went on a recce in March and will be leading the trips, says the snow is dependable, the people are overwhelmingly friendly and the food is simply wonderful - as long as you like meat. 

"In over 40 years of skiing, it was my best ski trip to date," Nick says.  "It's so different and the skiing is glorious.

"When I arrived in the country, I expected something like Iraq and a conflict zone," Nick says.  "Nothing can be further from the truth.

"The strict rules regarding the likes of headscarves for women are much more relaxed on the mountains, and there are great atmospheric mountain cafés that compete with anything in Europe - despite no beer!"

Yes, Apres Ski has a very different feel in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Alcohol is banned, as are discos and dancing in public, so there's little in the way of nightlife in the resorts.

But there are places to play pool and drink coffee.

And imagine how much money you'll save.

Skiing in IranThe mountains of Iran

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It certainly won't be much like your average week in the Alps.

Nick says the hotels are of good quality, but they're more basic than you'd expect in Europe.

The lift systems are mixed.

Skiing in IranNew lifts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Skiing in IranOld lifts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many websites are blocked, so you can forget posting your photos on Facebook or Twitter while you're there.

And you can't use credit cards or ATMs, so you'll have to travel with a stash of cash.

But the whole point of the trip is to experience something new.

Nick says that, despite the often bad press about Iran, people shouldn't be deterred. 

"Do not believe the stories about women having to use different lifts than the men.  It's totally incorrect," he says. 

"Iran is an ideal destination for men, women and children and all will be welcome on the Mountain Heaven escorted tour, although it's not generally recommended for beginners."

So what are the mountains like?

Big...

Skiing in IranSkiing in Iran

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Skiing in IranSkiing in Iran

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here's a brief version of Nick's guide to the three resorts included in Mountain Heaven's Iranian Ski Experience:

Dizin

The largest ski resort in Iran, in the Alborz mountain range, about 45 miles north of Tehran.

The highest ski lift reaches 3600 metres, making it one of the 40 highest ski resorts in the world. 

There are 15 lifts in the area, but not all may be operating at the time of the visit as it all depends upon the numbers of skiers on the mountain.

The ski season in Dizin often lasts from December to May. 

The air is also often dry making for some fantastic powder skiing. 

When we were there in March we skied untracked powder all day for three days due to low numbers of skiers.

Shemshak

The second largest ski area after Dizin.  

The slopes are at an altitude of 2550 m to 3050m.  

Shemshak caters for more advanced skiers and has seven ski lifts.

The slopes are quite steep and many of the runs are mogul runs.

There is also floodlit night skiing.

Darbandsar

Darbandsar has a relatively new gondola that has been installed in the resort and offers some good slopes for on and off-piste skiing and snowboarding.

It is a relatively small private resort located on the slopes of Mount Seechal, at Darbandsar Village. 

It is one of the seven major ski resorts near Tehran and the second most challenging resort after Shemshak.

It has a good selection of cafés at the top of the gondola station and also at the bottom.

The resort is not crowded even during the peak season.

Skiing in IranSkiing in Iran

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Skiing in IranSkiing in Iran

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cost of the Iranian Ski Experience is  £1,100 excluding flights (available from around £300 return), visas and lift passes. The total cost is likely to be in the region of £1,600.

There are only 20 places available on each tour.

More information, including a full itinerary, is here on the Mountain Heaven website.

Fancy something somewhat different?Fancy something somewhat different?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In February 2015, a bunch of swiss riders from the project "We ride in Iran" travelled to Iran to meet their friend Sina Shamyani.

The video shows their road trip around Iran, and gives us a feel for the quality of skiing Iran offers.

It is a French subtitled film, but well worth watching.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

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