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6 unique ski adventures

9 February 2022

6 Unique Ski Adventures

Stories

Here is all the inspiration you need to plan the ski trip of a lifetime…

Often as winter-sports lovers, we’re tempted back to the familiarity of the same spots. But as the world opens up once again, it feels good to remember there is a world out there, containing ski adventures beyond even the wildest of imaginations. We’ve asked 6 SunGod Ambassadors to share their most memorable ski experiences in dream destinations that should be any skiers bucket list. Inspiration incoming...

Photo: Martin Andersen / @fjellfanten_

1. 'SNOW HORSING' IN KYRGYZSTAN

Ex Pro freerider Yulia Zayko lives to challenge the norms within skiing and explore the mountains of the world. Her adventure into Kyrgyzstan in early 2020 was a dream borne from a photo she saw on social media…

“The crazy idea to freeride in Kyrgyzstan all started when I saw a photo of a snowboarder sitting on a horse with his board on his back on Instagram. From that moment onwards, I had to make it happen, so I set about researching Kyrgyzstan and soon discovered that horses are commonly used instead of ski lifts in certain parts of the country which is referred to as 'snow horsing' - we had to get involved. We booked a guide who came along with horses for each of us. We rode the horses to the top of our route, left the horses with the 'drivers' whose job it was to take them down, and shredded some incredible untouched snow in such a unique part of the world.

Kyrgyzstan is a country steeped in tradition with endless opportunities for freeriding. If you go, be sure to hire a guide who will show you the best places to ski and teach you everything there is to know about being a local. Sure, there’s no après ski, so if that’s your vibe this isn’t the place for you! But, if spending the day skiing in the wilderness and the evenings relaxing in the hot mineral springs sounds appealing - it’s the experience of a lifetime.” @yuliazayko

"We rode the horses to the top of our route and shredded some incredible untouched snow in such a unique part of the world."
"We rode the horses to the top of our route and shredded some incredible untouched snow in such a unique part of the world."

2. DISCOVER HIDDEN SKI RESORTS IN KASHMIR

The youngest Kashmiri to climb Everest, Rizza Alee is determined to inspire a generation. Rizza has climbed and snowboarded in the Kashmir Himalayas his entire life…

“Ahh Kashmir, where the powder is thick and the crowds are thin… Draped in a mysterious beauty, Kashmir is one of those places most of us have heard of, but know little about. If you’re dreaming of skiing in Kashmir, the place to base yourself is Gulmarg, Kashmir’s underdog ski resort. Tucked in the snowy Himalayas, it is a place of magnificent no-frills skiing. The name alone conjures up adventure, white-toothed mountains and deep green valleys, wide open slopes and tough highland people.

What you do in Gulmarg is up to you... Ski the wide, normally empty pistes (the longest of which are over 4 miles long) - or take to the backcountry, either by touring or indulging in a heliski, to have the ski of your life in the legendary Kashmiri pow. The cherry on top? Gulmarg is cheap, never crowded and blessed with gloriously dry, inland snow.” @rizzaalee

"Gulmarg doesn’t feel like a ski resort, it feels like a village. At the base of the gondola, men with wooden boxes strapped to their shoulders sold chocolate bars, selfie sticks and cigarettes."
"Gulmarg doesn’t feel like a ski resort, it feels like a village. At the base of the gondola, men with wooden boxes strapped to their shoulders sold chocolate bars, selfie sticks and cigarettes."

3. SKI FROM SKY TO SEA IN NORWAY

British born freerider and marine biologist Melissa Brandner has found her heaven living in Tromsø, Norway. Here, surrounded by peaks and ocean, she can live out her dream of studying the oceans and riding mountains every day…

“It’s certainly a unique experience skiing up here. You can have 24 hours of night and northern lights or 24 hours of sunshine, where the skiing feels endless and you can bathe in the ocean at the bottom of your run. There are no big ski resorts here so there is a lot of touring needed, but unlike the Alps, there are no big approaches in Norway - 20 minutes from my door I can reach a couloir and climb up to an alpine peak. I am a lover of steep technical lines and there are plenty here, plus playful rocks to hop off.

My most memorable Tromsø ski adventure was back in May 2020 with my boyfriend. We camped on a beach in Lyngen at the base of the mountain. It was midnight sun season so we started touring at 5 am to beat the snowmelt. We skied to the bottom of a classic couloir, 'Thomas Renna', and started the boot pack to the top. As we reached the top to look over the glacier, the sun broke through the clouds and everything shone. We climbed the snowy ladder to the peak and were the only people on the mountain, with waist-deep snow and thousands of meters of untracked descent. We ended the day with beers and a barbecue on the beach, to say it was a perfect day would be understating it!” @lissa.o

"Unlike the Alps, there are no big approaches in Norway. 20 minutes from my door I can reach a couloir and climb up to an alpine peak." Photo: Sigurd Salberg Pedersen

4. HEAD INTO THE WILD IN KAZAKHSTAN

Born and raised in Northern Kazakhstan, Darya Ponomaryova now lives near the mountains in the city of Almaty, where she works as a tour and ski guide. Her guiding company, ‘Powder Nomads’, offers authentic freeride tours around Kazakhstan.

“The mountains in Kazakhstan are less explored and you will not meet crowds here. Instead, you’ll discover a wild environment where you can be at one with nature and feel absolutely free. In good years, we’re blessed to have a long ski season from September until July, which means there is huge potential for skiing in the backcountry, alpine touring and heli-skiing. No matter what skiing you choose to do in Kazakhstan, it is guaranteed to be an adventure you won’t forget. Whether you keep it chilled in the Motley Mountains behind the river Ili, or head into the high mountains - you’ll be stepping into the wild where simplicity and authenticity is the name of the game and the freeriding lines are all yours for the taking!” @darya.ponomaryova

“The mountains in Kazakhstan are less explored and you will not meet crowds here. Instead, you’ll be able to feel yourself as you discover a wild environment."
“The mountains in Kazakhstan are less explored and you will not meet crowds here. Instead, you’ll be able to feel yourself as you discover a wild environment."

5. SKI THE FAMED ALASKAN POW

Therapeutic Recreational Wilderness Guide, Heidi Nixon lives for the wild outdoors and to help ignite this love in others. If she’s not skiing, Heidi is canoeing as hard as she can to the nearest Alaskan powder pocket…

“Our original plan was to canoe to the coastal range of Southeast Alaska, a seldom skied area. The catch - no trails, no roads, and no trip reports to turn to for help. Once we arrived on Wrangell Island, a mixed day of bushwhacking and ski touring through thick trees ensued and we realized we were in the wrong spot for skiing. We’d been eager to find the Alaskan pow we had heard so much about. What we didn’t realize was that the epic Alaskan skiing is actually a few hundred miles north. We quickly made a plan B, and got on the next flight out of town.

Once in Anchorage, we found ourselves a set of wheels and made the iconic drive, 300 miles on the Alaska highway. When the road ended, we knew we must have been at our destination - Valdez. The ultimate combination of ocean and mountains, the town has one of the best views in the world. Within an hour drive you can access dozens of mountains and hundreds of ski touring runs. My advice is to drive to Thompson Pass (the snowiest place in Alaska), and choose a parking lot to pull into. From there, you can access multiple mountains, up tracks and ski lines for every ability and condition - powder paradise!” @heidi.nixon

"Valdez is the ultimate combination of ocean and mountains. Within an hour drive you can access dozens of mountains and hundreds of ski touring runs"
"Valdez is the ultimate combination of ocean and mountains. Within an hour drive you can access dozens of mountains and hundreds of ski touring runs"

6. EXPLORE THE UNEXPLORED IN PATAGONIA

Sascha Geist was born in Patagonia, Argentina. Formerly the South American Freeride Champion, he now runs a hostel in San Martín, the town where he was born. He spends his days skiing and exploring in the Patagonian wilderness, all day every day.

“The magical thing about skiing here is how little explored it is. The access to many of the mountains is usually long and difficult with no paths, skin tracks or shortcuts. The landscape is incredible, surrounded by lakes, forests and volcanoes. If you like big mountain skiing, Argentina has a lot of potential, it’s so easy to get lost in this wild and entirely unique place.

For anyone who wants to visit this area I highly recommend San Martin de Los Andes (Chapelco Ski Resort) and the surrounding area. From here the Route Of The 7 Lakes starts and connects San Martín de los Andes and Bariloche, another great place to base yourself for some ski adventures. The Route Of The 7 Lakes itself is a road known as one of the most scenic in Argentina, winding through the ultimate ski country, some of which remains completely unexplored - in wild Patagonia, the possibilities are endless.” @saskuaz

"From here the Route Of The 7 Lakes starts and connects San Martín de los Andes and Bariloche."
"From here the Route Of The 7 Lakes starts and connects San Martín de los Andes and Bariloche."

Whether you're all about punching laps on the piste, scouting blower pow or touring into the wild - who says you've got to do it all in the same old places? As the world opens up once again and the welcome itch to adventure returns, why not take the chance to make the fantasy ski trip a reality? It may take some planning and some saving but the mountains aren't going anywhere - good things come to those who wait!