Fans of outdoor activities, skiing, and snowboarding, in particular, will be surprised by Kazakhstan with its snow, variety of ski slopes, and resorts.
Ski resorts in Almaty
Of course, the city of Almaty, surrounded by mountains, offers the greatest variety of all kinds of winter activities. The slopes of Ile Alatau near Almaty offer excellent conditions and opportunities for skiing and snowboarding. Here you will find various ski resorts, gentle and steep descents, snow of wonderful quality, unique landscape, and sunny weather.
In the picturesque tract of Shymbulak, the famous resort of the same name is located. Its trails are considered to be one of the most difficult in the world. At an altitude of 2260 meters, the weather is always sunny, and you can get a beautiful tan here even in winter. Snow is 1.5-2 meters deep. The height of the ski season begins in mid-November and ends in early April. There are four ski lifts, (two twin-chairlifts, one single-chairlift, and a cable car), including a towing lift, which can be used for free. There are cafes, restaurants and rest houses as well. The ski season here opens with a traditional race. Before the actual descent, its participants need to run 20 meters to their skis or snowboards, having full protective gear on.
In the ski resort in the Talgar Gorge, in addition to trails of varying difficulty, there is a gondola cableway that allows you to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the mountains during the ascent. In another large mountain resort, built according to the modern European standards, the total length of trails reaches 37 kilometers. Cable cars, snowmobiles and ATVs, entertainment programs and a wide range of services for a comfortable stay are available here.
Near Almaty, you can find more affordable options for skiing on sleds, balloons, and snowboards. Google will help you find a wide variety of services for skiing and snowboarding in Almaty and near the city.
It should be noted that the popularity of winter sports even inspired local journalists to create the Kazakhstan SCIJ club in 2012. In 2013 it was accepted into the SCIJ International Organization. International Ski Club of Journalists is a club that brings together journalists-skiers from 38 countries. It was founded by a journalist from Courchevel, Gilles de La Rocque. At the height of the Cold War, he proposed to strengthen communication among journalists from the East and the West based on professional and sports interests. The Kazakhstanis first introduced their country in 2012 in Italy. Today, the Kazakhstani club has about 30 journalists. And not so long ago, they opened the ski season with freestyle competitions at one of the ski resorts in the Almaty Province.
Popular winter activities
A very common hobby amongst the people of Kazakhstan is freeriding on snowboards or downhill skiing. Freeriding is suitable for both professionals and amateurs. Most often, fans of extreme sports climb a mountain on a ski lift and ski down a natural ungroomed slope on tracks. In Kazakhstan, there are many opportunities for this. Numerous travel agencies and companies specializing in these types of services will help you in finding the best and most suitable ski trails.
In Kazakhstan other types of extreme descents are available. For example, backcountry - climbing and then descending from mountains that are not equipped with lifts. Only trained freeriders can practice it. Heli-skiing - skiers and snowboarders land at the top of the mountain from a helicopter and then ride down! Ski-tour freeride - skiing or snowboarding in the mountains with the help of a splitboard. A splitboard is a snowboard that can be divided into two parts and turn into skis. It is easier to climb a mountain on skis and to ride down on a snowboard. This type is especially popular in East Kazakhstan.
Here's what Yevgeny Kozmin, a snowboarding and alpine skiing instructor, says about winter activities in East Kazakhstan:
- Our winter recreation facilities are located both near Ust-Kamenogorsk and on the slopes of Western Altai in the town of Ridder. The conditions of both nature and weather are interesting here. The season lasts from November to April. We regularly conduct ski tours for guests coming from different parts of Russia and abroad. You can climb the Altai Mountains from our ski resorts both on a passenger raft and on ski tows and then ride down – either by skiing or snowboarding on freshly fallen soft snow.
Tourist bases offer snowmobiles for rent. We also often use ski skins (special strings attached to the bottom of skis preventing them from slipping when climbing). Thus, it is easier to climb a mountain; up there you take them off and ski down. We also use splitboards. Use it as skis to climb up, then connect the two parts and use it as a snowboard to ride down.
Of course, we didn’t mention all the options for the winter holidays in Kazakhstan, but we are sure you will not be bored!