Winter, opportunities for skiing, and this year had me choosing the Almaty province of Kazakhstan.
The first resort, Shymbulak, surprised me in many ways, not the least by how conveniently most things worked out, from ski rental to the absence of linguistic problems. I stayed in a wonderful place, Hotel S.N.e.G., where everything was top notch. I was met by the friendliest faces, had a room with the grandest view over the ski slopes and Almaty in the distance, ate excellent food, and in general felt like a princess. Shymbulak has a nice variety of slopes, neatly groomed, and relaxing places where you can hang out, chilling to house music.
Next place – Ak-Bulak – turned out to be exciting for quite another reason, the weather. Heavy snowfall made this little place quite fun. There were easy slopes at the bottom, however more challenges higher up, especially considering the fog that made it difficult to see where the slope actually was…and I ended up skiing together with a friendly guy from the ski patrol.
Elik-Sai is something else! At this powder heaven I became friends with kindred spirits from Almaty with whom I had the best time ever! Thank you Aliya! This hidden gem does not provide its visitors with any modern facilities, however that perfect powder feeling that a lot of us ski freaks long for. The tow lift consisted of a rope, to which you attach your borrowed portable “lift” with a kind of a spanner fastening. After getting off, you tie the “lift” around your waist, bring it with you down, and use it when it’s time to go back up again. (First time for me to see a construction like this.)