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Slope off for a Piste of the Action this Winter

We’re pleased to host another guest writer, this time from Purple Parking 🙂

If you’re keen to get out on the piste this season but don’t know where to head, the choice of destinations can be overwhelming. France may be a failsafe, but if you’re looking for something a little different there are a number of options available to you. From the unusual or unexpected to the cheap and cheerful, there’s a package out there to suit every budget – so grab your skis, pack your snowboard, don your salopettes and let’s go!

For a short break somewhere unusual: Mount Hermon, Israel

It’s hard to imagine that just two hours’ drive from the deserts of the holy land you can find a ski resort – but that’s exactly what you’ll find at Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights region of Israel, in the far north of the country. Whilst this resort may not be world-class, for around 50 days of the year – between January and March – you’ll find great skiing at Israel’s only winter ski and snowboarding resort.

Situated 2814m above sea level, this resort is the highest point in Israeli-controlled areas that overlooks both Syria and Lebanon – making it of strategic military importance as well as simply a place to enjoy some sports! The nearest airport is Tel Aviv, and there’s a good choice of guest lodges in the area. A ski pass costs around £40 a day and there are 10 lifts that service the snow-sure areas between 1640m and 2073m.

For the party animals: Mayrhofen, Austria

Forget The Sound of Music,  all we hear when someone says Austria is the sound of a party! Every  April, as well as offering some of the finest skiing and snowboarding around, Mayrhofen also plays host to “the greatest show on snow”- the Snowbombing Music Festival. This high-altitude, high-energy music festival promises to combine “black runs with white-hot parties”. With mountain-top stages, sky-high igloos and even an enchanted forest – all accommodating some world-class music acts over the course of a week – Mayrhofen offers so much more than your run-of-the-mill resort.

A fabulous range of jumps for snowboarders and freeskiers can be found at the Vans Penkens Snow Park, and the 159km of runs – serviced by 147 snow cannons – guarantee 100% snow coverage. Mayrhofen is also home to Austria’s steepest groomed slope – the infamous “Harakiri” black run. Featuring gradients of up to 78% – this run, and the resort as a whole, are most certainly not for the faint of heart!

For those on a budget: Poiana-Brasor, Romania

Whilst Poiana-Brasor, as small resort 166km north of Bucharest may be a little rough around the edges, it represents great value for money is definitely more “cheap and cheerful” than “shoddy and sub-standard”!

With flights and a week’s ski pass  often costing less than £200 combined, Poiana-Brasor is really affordable. Better than that, you’ll see neither hide nor hair of the infamous £10-a-bottle après ski beers. A domestic beer in Poiana-Brasor is more likely to cost you less than £1. Amazing!

For something completely different: Mauna Kea, Hawaii

No, you’re not seeing things – we really did just list Hawaii as a ski destination! The volcanic mountain Mauna Kea (Hawaiian for “white mountain”) offers some extreme skiing – if you’re brave enough!

If you measure Mauna Kea from its undersea base – some 19,000 feet below sea level – all the way to its snowy peaks 13,796 above sea level, Mauna Kea is, technically, the world’s highest mountain! This unexpected location also offers some of the world’s highest skiing too. However, this is wilderness skiing at the extreme – there are no lifts, there’s no grooming, and there’s not a hint of a resort – you’ll need a 4×4, an adventurous nature and preferably a local guide to tackle these unruly slopes.

There are a number of guided excursions that will take you to Mauna Kea but it should be stressed that this terrain is certainly only suitable for very advanced skiers. Whilst under the snow is predominantly cinder – making for something of a softer landing than other surfaces – there are plenty of jagged rocks to look out for. Additionally, the changeable climate means that the weather can turn on a dime – and with no safety provisions, this isn’t the kind of place you’d want to find yourself out of your depth. However, advanced skiers with a sense of adventure speak very highly of the challenging and exhilarating terrain that Mauna Kea offers.

Top Tip

If you’re planning on trying some skiing gems for yourself, it’s worth bearing in mind all the added extras that can mount up from ski hire to the costs of taking your skiing equipment on a plane. Heathrow Parking specialists Purple Parking see that thousands of skiers have a relaxing start to their holiday and has some money saving tips for skiing holidays which includes a ski baggage fees comparison table giving you all the information you need when you come to booking your flight for.

Image credits: snow-forecast, tylerwetherall, scarlettlondon, wintermag & aloha-hawaii

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