SKIING IN IRAN
So, you’d like to find out about skiing in Iran? You’ve come to the right page! Photos © Sébastien Baritussio
Where to go skiing?
Skiing first started in the 1930’s in Iran and is now commonplace. There are around 19 ski resorts are across the country, and the potential for ski touring is virtually limitless!
Ski resorts in Iran
Let’s start with the superlatives:
These three resorts are located in the same area, and only 70km North of Tehran. You will find great snow conditions, long slopes and nice freeriding / ski touring trails.
Most of the lifts are a bit old and the slopes are not always perfectly groomed, but do not worry, the warm Iranian hospitality and unique experience of skiing in the middle east more than compensates.
Take half a day to visit Tochal, the highest resort in Iran. The resort is small but the view of Tehran from the top is breath-taking. From the summit, you’ll find long and nice off-piste trails with a northern exposure, which descend into a valley 20km from Shemshak.
There are other ski resorts, but most will not satisfy experienced skiers looking for challenging terrain. However, these – generally smaller resorts – offer the opportunity to go off the beaten track and spend time with local skiers. They are also the best resorts to establish a base camp for a ski touring trip.
Iran is a gold mine for ski touring!
If you plan a trip there, you surely won’t be disappointed. Iran is a mountain country with more than hundred peaks over 4000m. Its two main mountain ranges, Zagros and Alborz, cover a huge area and offer excellent snow conditions, great routes opportunities and amazing landscapes.
But ski touring in Iran is not just about skiing. It is a dive into one of the oldest civilization on earth. A country rich of different cultures, languages and histories. Therefore, Iran is very safe and Iranians will do anything to make you feel at home. Their great hospitality, generosity and kindness will surprise you.
When to go skiing?
Just like in Europe, the best period for skiing is from January to the end of March.
Regarding snow conditions, ski resorts open between the end of November and the beginning of May. In southern Iran, the ski season is shorter but usually still lasts until the end of March.
January and February are the best if you want to try the Persian powder. For ski touring, the season can last until the end of May (even June).
Off-season, most resorts are open for climbers, hikers and mountain bikers.
2 tips to avoid crowded ski resorts:
- Try to go skiing when Iranians are working – the Week-end in Iran is Thursday and Friday
- Avoid big resorts during Nowruz (19th to 22nd of March)
Safety in Iran
If you are wondering if Iran is a safe country to travel to, please refer to this page: Is iran safe?
Everything is organized and in case of an emergency, hospitals in Tehran will provide treatments before repatriation. Iran is not a third-world country!
On the slopes, safety patrols are less trained and frequent than in Europe.
Please try to avoid breaking a leg in the middle of nowhere while off-piste skiing or ski touring – The rescue operation will surely take longer as in the Alps.
As anywhere on earth: snow + steep slopes = avalanche – Be cautious and well equipped before skiing off-piste. Resorts are not prepared to face such natural risk. In the event of big snow-falls, lifts might close.
Renting and buying ski equipment
Every ski resort has at least one rental “shop”. If you are not a skier, you can even rent inner tubes from old truck’s.
Don’t expect to find the latest equipment everywhere. Only few shops in big resorts or Tehran can provide recently released ski gear. One day rental for skis + boots varies from 15€ to 30€. You can also rent technical clothes in any resort.
In the main cities / resorts, you will find shops selling the latest equipment (ski, snowboard, clothes, boots…). Prices are a little higher than in Europe.
Atmosphere and après-ski
The atmosphere is great as is their powder!
Iranians are on the whole, extremely kind and curious people. They also have the mountain spirit! Everyone will come to their own conclusions, but feedback from western travelers is pretty unanimous: IRAN IS GREAT!
Après-ski… certain rules must be respected in Iran. You will find many activities and things to do… Do not worry!
Accomodation / Lodging
You can always find a hotel, a room, an apartment or a guesthouse for the night. In the main ski resorts and cities, accommodation is relatively expensive compared to the other costs of living.
Renting an apartment is usually more economic when travelling with a group.
Couchsurfing is well known among young people. In most cities, you will easily find a host.
Other activities except skiing
Iran has a huge historical and cultural heritage!
With ski resorts being close to cities, it is easy to organize cultural visits all along its ski trip through Iran.
Iranians are outdoor fans and the country is a huge playground: Rock climbing, ice climbing, canyoning, paragliding, trekking, desert, kite-surf, wakeboard, hunting, fishing, animal watching… Hard to get bored!
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