Photos: Mongolia-Web

Mongolia gets its first ski resort, and Matador goes in early to check it out.

IT’S WICKED COLD for sure, and yes, there’s some snow, but Mongolia has never been associated with alpine skiing. Things change.

This November marked the grand opening of the country’s first downhill ski mountain, “Sky Resort,” situated on the outskirts of the capital, Ulan Bator.

If you’re in the mood for a review smacking of privileged condescension, head over to the post on The New York Time‘s In Transit blog.

Otherwise, read on to see what Matador member akmonki, who visited the mountain in its second week, thought of Sky Resort. Akmonki is currently a youth development volunteer with the Peace Corps in the small city of Baganuur.

For a window into life in the world’s most sparsely populated country, I highly recommend following her Matador blog.

While you had to keep in mind that this was still Mongolia and there were only 3 main runs (one blue square, one green circle, and one bunny hill), it was deee-luxe. The rows of shiny ski/snowboard equipment, snow-making machines, and spacious facility made a pretty convincing case for a legitimate ‘resort’, comparable to something back in America.

And the prices were hard to beat. A half-day ski pass plus equipment rental cost only 19,000 tugriks (equivalent to about $14 USD). It was most likely over our PC-issued leisure allowance, but well worth the few extra tugriks.

Riding an unhurried chairlift up to the blue square run, I noticed that we were the only people on the lift—turned out that most Mongolians are still taking baby-steps in the world of skiing.

Most of the time we spent teaching and coaxing another volunteer friend who had never been on skis before, and therefore only managed to cruise a couple of runs. But the speed and chilly rush of those few minutes got my endorphins pumping enough to reawaken the skier in me.

*excerpt from the Matador blog post In the Big City

For more info, including a trail map, check out Ski Season in Mongolia begins this weekend at Mongolia-Web. Below is a short video from YouTube showing some of the terrain.

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