Could Iran be your next skiing destination?
If you are an experienced skier, you'll have likely explored Alps far and wide. Maybe you've even heard of skiing in Russia, Japan or Chile and thought out about trying out those destination.
Odds are though that you've never searched for ski slopes in Iran.
Iranian ski resorts such as Dizin, however offer
untapped off-piste areas, an abundance of snow and authentic mountain cafés with Iranian cuisine. Perched at a height of 2,650 meters, Dizin has slopes of up to
3,500 meters, making it the highest resort in the country.
Stretching from the Azerbaijani border, along the western and southern coast of the Caspian Sea, the Alborz mountains easily outrank the Alps in height with all ski resorts sitting over 2,000 meters and the local highest mountain, Mount Damavand, reaching 5,610m. Predominantly hit by dry air from the desert, slopes are covered by a light dry snow powder, ideally suited for off-piste skiing.
sanctions are finally lifted, tourism is growing fast in Iran from a virtually inexistent state, infrastructure however remains an issue in the area, attracting mostly adventurous skiers. Dizin, the country's largest ski resort has a total of 12 chair lifts, with Shemshak, the second largest boasting just two.
Many tour operators have already jumped on Iran's white gold, aiming to capitalize on this new trend with lift passes in Iran starting from just $20 per day and ski lifts located barely 2 hours from Teheran. Still, according to CNN, just 1% of the 500,000 people annually who ski in Iran are tourists.
Although alcohol is prohibited in Iran, Dizin has a more relaxed culture than the capital, with Islamic wear rules less strongly enforced. "The atmosphere is quite different than Tehran itself." explained Nasrin Etemadi, managing director of Persian Voyages.
Unlike its European counterparts, Dizin doesn't use dynamite to trigger safe avalanches, meaning that with nearly 7 meters in snowfall per year, mountainsides can sometimes be unsafe without a guide.
Still labeled as a potentially active volcano, Zoroastrian mythology says that a dragon lay imprisoned on Mount Damavand, the volcano which stretches over 5,000 meters. The hike can take several days to get to the top but the descent on ski as little as two hours.