1. There's more to this forum than meets the eye!

    We have a vibrant community here conversing about all sorts of non-snow topics such as music, sport, politics and technology. Simply register to reveal all our Après topics or continue browsing and reading as a guest.

    NOTE: This notice may be closed.

    Dismiss Notice

Skiing Lebanon

Discussion in 'Less Travelled' started by Hunter, Feb 17, 2019.

  1. Hunter

    Hunter Part of the Furniture Endless Winter Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2000
    Messages:
    13,462
    Likes Received:
    534
    Location:
    goughs bay
    Skiing in Lebanon is paradise — you've just got to get up early
    Correspondents Report
    By Middle East correspondent Adam Harvey


    [​IMG]
    Here's a confession: one of the reasons I applied for a job in Beirut was because I knew that in Lebanon you can ski.

    I've loved the sport since I was 13 years old, and first strapped on a pair of skis at a tiny ski slope in the Brindabellas.

    Corin Forest seemed terrifying — icy, steep, bumpy, chaotic, and so addictive that I moved to the big-time: Smiggins Holes.

    But as an adult, I've lived in places like Perth and Dublin and Sydney, where the logistics and cost of skiing were prohibitive.

    My last stop was Indonesia, where the temperature didn't drop below 28 in three years and the closest thing to snow was the ash falling from Bali's Mt Agung.

    Then I moved to Beirut, where you can famously ski in the morning and swim in the sea in the afternoon.

    Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.

    The first time I went up in early January, I approached my Lebanese ski trip with the rigid discipline of someone who'd grown up skiing on weekends in Australia, where you've got to hit the slopes early if you want to avoid queuing for 45 minutes on the T-bars at Perisher's front valley.

    I was out the door at 6:00am, roaring up the mountain road by 6:30am, and at the resort by 7:30am.

    That's sea level to 2,000 metres in an hour, including a stop to pick up skis and poles.

    I couldn't quite believe it. Neither, I think, could the car park guys at Mzaar. I was the first person there.

    I stopped in the empty bitumen, looked up at the mountain, with its deep, fresh layer of snow, and wondered where everyone else was.

    In bed, as it turned out.

    Cafes empty at 10am and packed at 10pm
    Lebanese live life at the opposite end of the day.

    At Mzaar, I cooled my heels with a handful of other early birds, eventually handed over $50 for a lift ticket, got on the first chairlift of the day, made fresh tracks all the way down and got straight back on to another lift, with no queue.

    [​IMG]PHOTO: In Beirut, you can famously ski in the morning and swim in the afternoon. (ABC News: Adam Harvey)


    This happened all day long. It was like a dream.

    The rest of the skiers arrived after 10:00am, but the lift queues were really only a few minutes' long.

    I basically had the mountain to myself — and what a mountain.

    Wide, open slopes, loads of chutes and gullies to get lost in, and best of all, two huge winter storms had dumped about 4 metres of fresh show.

    So much had fallen that the snowploughs had to dig channels beneath some of the chairlifts so they could operate.

    Mzaar's about the size of Thredbo, with a few flourishes that you wouldn't see in Australia.

    The food and drink are better — I had a mountaintop espresso with a saj, a flatbread cooked in front of you on a metal dome, with a layer of cheese, za'atar and yoghurt spread on top.

    Just like in any ski resort, the music is terrible, but the fashion is more interesting — Mzaar's the first place I've ever seen anyone skiing in a fur coat.

    [​IMG]PHOTO: A local skier donning a fur coat at the Mzaar ski slopes. (ABC News: Adam Harvey)


    A view over the mountains of Syria
    The resort's in a Christian area, and the locals have made their allegiance clear by decorating the hilltops with giant steel crosses.

    From one of the highest chairs you can look across the Bekaa Valley to the mountains of Syria.

    I overhear a pair of skiers taking in the view. One man, who sounds American, says: "So that's Syria, and that way, Israel?

    His Lebanese companion is silent for a moment, then corrects him.

    "Occupied Palestine."

    I've gone hard since 8:00am, and there's no breather in the lift line, so after five hours of skiing I'm ready to go home.

    I head back to the carpark, which is pandemonium. The latecomers are all arriving now, after lunch.

    I've never seen this in Australia, where you might as well give up if you haven't arrived by 10:00am.

    The ski slopes might have been sedate and peaceful, but the roads leading to them are now frenzied.

    There's a 5-kilometre tailback as all the latecomers sit in stalled traffic.

    Armed police stand on the narrow mountain road, waving arms and shouting as they try and fail to order the traffic, but even with all the cops, drivers pull out of their lane and roar up the wrong side of the road, blocking the cars coming in the opposite direction.

    Everyone comes to a standstill as the impatient drivers then try to squeeze back in to the other lane.

    Everyone honks at everyone else. I tap my horn just to join in the party, but none of these guys can wreck my good mood.

    I'm in a post-mountain high. Skiing in Lebanon is paradise. You've just got to get up early.
     
  2. Tanuki

    Tanuki A Local Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2010
    Messages:
    8,486
    Likes Received:
    4,327
    It was nice listening to that story this morning, lying in bed, peace and quite and then my 5yr old jumped on my torso and almost broke me.
     
    Majikthise likes this.
  3. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki One of them Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2014
    Messages:
    7,882
    Likes Received:
    13,987
    Location:
    Canberra, ACT
    Ski in the morning, surf in the afternoon. Lebanon is on my bucket list.
     
    dibl0c and Tanuki like this.
  4. cookieman

    cookieman One of Us

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2013
    Messages:
    1,623
    Likes Received:
    1,583
    Location:
    Melb - DPlain
    I have skiid Lebanon and it was surprisingly good.
    Walking on the beach with an ice cream in the morning , an hour later on the slopes at 2000 m plus
     
  5. person s

    person s Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2001
    Messages:
    32,685
    Likes Received:
    12,361
    Location:
    macdonaldtown
    why does he say the cost of skiing from Dublin is prohibitive?
    I might have thought it was similar to England for access to Europe
     
  6. Bogong

    Bogong Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2005
    Messages:
    11,956
    Likes Received:
    2,334
    Location:
    The pointy end, fully reclined
    Not forgetting that many of our ski instructors in the 1940s and 50s got their tickets in Lebanon training Australian ski troops to fight the Vichy French in the Taurus mountains in 1941.

    [​IMG]
    Australian ski troops on patrol in Lebanon, 1941.

    In 1941 the 1st Australian Corps Ski School was established in the Taurus Mountains of Lebanon. Initially it was planned for Australia’s first ski troops to fight the Vichy French in the Syrian Campaign of the Second World War. This was part of a larger project with the intention of training mountain troops to operate on skis in winter and in difficult terrain in summer. Each of the three Australian divisions deployed to the Middle East at the time were to have an oversized company of 200 of these specialist mountain troops.

    However the French were defeated before the courses were finished and with the entry of Japan into the war, the 6th, 7th and 9th divisions were gradually reassigned to tropical areas, so their ski training was never utilised. The unit trained over 200 soldiers in ski warfare before it was disbanded in late February 1942.
     
  7. person s

    person s Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2001
    Messages:
    32,685
    Likes Received:
    12,361
    Location:
    macdonaldtown
    interesting story
    I didn’t know that Aus troops ever had contact with Vichy
    ooops - re-reading says they didn’t
     
  8. Bogong

    Bogong Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2005
    Messages:
    11,956
    Likes Received:
    2,334
    Location:
    The pointy end, fully reclined
    Australians provided about half the allied troops in the Syrian campaign, in fact they were so successful fighting the French in battles away from the mountains, that by the time winter cane around, the French were defeated and ski troops weren't really needed. That's why the First Australian Corps Ski School was closed down in February 1942.

    Other fights against Vichy France, I think an Australian cruiser (possibly HMAS Sydney?) was attached to the squadron of the Royal Navy that sank most of the French Fleet in Algeria.
     
    person s likes this.