Thursday, March 01, 2007

Guest Blog: Skiing in China

My father, Jere Leister, is currently living in Beijing, China and has shared some of his thoughts on his experiences skiing in China.

A month ago I went skiing near Beijing with my Taiwanese friend, James. It’s single run of man made snow was far from great, but I had a good time and worked out my old legs for a couple hours. So, when he asked me to go with him to the best ski resort in all of China over the Chinese New Year holiday, I thought why not? On-line I saw that the Yabuli Ski Resort was indeed billed as China’s largest ski area with over 300” snow/yr and recent investments totaling over 150 million U.S. dollars… In 1996, chosen as the site of the 3rd Asian Winter Games. …. 700 sets of skis in very good condition. … 9 trails, which are as challenging as any trail in Switzerland or North America.” It all sounded pretty good, and my friend made reservations to fly to Harbin.

The first surprise came after arriving at the hotel when we arranged for transportation to the slopes. They said if we boarded the bus at 7:00 AM we’d get to the slopes by 11:00; leaving only a half day to ski. The bus came half an hour late, but the on-board “tour director’s” cynical commentary on Heilongjiang life (translated to me by James) made the time pass pretty quickly.

There were remnants of old snowfalls in Harbin (more than normal in Salt Lake or Denver) so I hoped I’d see a lot up north. As we got close I realized that it was not to be; there was, perhaps, 6 inches on the ground. This was in-line with another realization when we got to the ski area. Only 4 of us got off the bus to go skiing. Most of the passengers were from the south of China and were just on a trip to see the Manchurian country side.

But my first sight of the mountain again made me hopeful. Even if the snow cover was minimal…I saw two mountains and the far one looked like it might have some decent vertical. Of course there followed another surprise… the upper mountain was off-limits, only for use by government ski team members.

As you can see it was a blue sky day. That was a treat since Beijing is almost always overcast. After another bus to the actual ski area, I went to the rental shop. Their skis all looked like they’d never been tuned or sharpened. (On a side note, you can also rent ski clothing there too.) Oh well, I guess I really wasn’t on this trip for the skiing. But, my friend was psyched because, even though he was restricted to the beginner slopes, they were at the top of the mountain and he could have full time instructor for minimal cost.

I skied the five runs numerous times, despite two them probably (but not clearly) being closed, and joked with my friend each time I went to the top of the single lift. The day was sunny and the people, just like everywhere in China, were all very friendly and enthusiastic. I was glad for a chance to use my Chinese with the people on the lift

and as always in China we had great lunch:

….and I got to see how they made so many huge death cookies… by “mining” instead of making snow:

And then the real reason I went with James… after getting back to Harbin that night he called some friends who happened to live there and they showed us a night on the town… ( no photos I can publish). The next day we toured Harbin’s sights… they are known for their snow sculptures… the second one was the most surprising..

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My winter trip to china went well with lots of snow and I sent pictures to my friends a work. They posted the travel ski photos in the lunch room at the Sears Law Building 18 truman irvine ca. The owner Steven Sears Attorney let us put the poster size photo in the conference room. Best view in orange county and the world.