Most spectacular ski resorts in Russia

Source: Lori / Legion Media

Source: Lori / Legion Media

Krasnaya Polyana, Sheregesh, Kirovsk – in Russia it is possible to go skiing on any budget or level of experience.

Those who want to try something different from a ski trip to Switzerland or Austria can always enjoy a breakfast with a view of Mount Elbrus (the highest peak in Russia), Caucasus hospitality or skiing on the exotic slopes of the Tian-Shan Mountains. There are more than 200 ski resorts in Russia; we chose the top seven.

Dombay

The "UFO" hotel in the mountains, Dombay ski resort. Source: Lori/Legion-Media

The popularity of this place is derived primarily from its natural environment: Dombay is located in a gorgeous spot 65 kilometers from the Black Sea and 65 kilometers from the summit of Elbrus. There are roughly 20 kilometers of trails on Mussa-Achitara Mountain for all levels of experience. There are ungroomed areas for freestylers, but the majority of trails here are designed for a comfortable ride: moderate slopes, smooth reliefs and a few hillocks. There is also the possibility for skiing down wild peaks, which you ascend using a helicopter (heli-skiing). There are five cable cars of different types: chair lift, gondola and swing. Leisure activities at the resort are not limited to skiing and snowboarding: here you can ride a snowmobile, ATV, skate or paraglide.

Where: Karachay-Cherkessia Republic, Dombay village, Mussa-Achitara Mountain

How to get there: take a plane or train to Mineralnye Vody and then take a shuttle or taxi to Dombay

Cost: one day of skiing at the new complex is about $35 with individual lifts costing from $3-6 per trip

Season: from November to April

Rentals: average price is $13

Where to stay:  there are plenty of hotels to suit every budget with prices starting at $30-50 (depending on the season) for a standard room about 100 meters from the ski lift.

 

Kirovsk

Source: Lori/Legion-Media

Kirovsk is the oldest Russian ski center with four ski areas suiting a variety of tastes and abilities: “25 km,” “Big Wood,” “Aerial Kola-Sportsland” and “Khibiny Snow Park.” The last is for beginners and children and is located in the city center. The park has a good ski school and qualified instructors for everybody from beginners to experts. “Kola-Sportsland” in many respects is the main complex here. The total length of the route is about 30 kilometers and its conditions are almost perfect. Various types of lifts operate and there is night skiing with lights on two trails. There is a separate path for tubing and two jumps with heights of 50 and 70 meters for the truly adventurous. The ski resort “Big Wood” has a variety of routes, with an elevation range of 500 meters and slopes comprising 20 kilometers in length.

Where: Murmansk Region, Kirovsk

How to get there: by plane to Apatity and then a bus or taxi to Kirovsk

Cost: a one-day adult ski pass is $30, children’s is $20

Season: November to April

Rentals: daily rentals start at $35, cheaper if renting for a few days or more

Where to stay: private accommodations are popular here with a one-bedroom apartment renting for as little as $13 per day; during the peak season (March-April), prices can rise to $45 per day; an average double room in one of several hotels here will cost about $40.

 

Krasnaya Polyana

Source: Lori/Legion-Media

Krasnaya Polyana is the fanciest address in Russian skiing. Four ski resorts are combined into a single skiing zone under one skipass. There is a snow park and wide trails for beginners (the length of the longest trail is 4.1 kilometers). There are jumps and places to free-ride with warm, moist air drifiting in from the sea and heavy snowfalls for powdery trails. Many like to raise their self-esteem here by conquering a trail called, “Olympic male descent above 1600.”

Where: Krasnodar Territory, Sochi, Adlersky city district, Estosadok village

How to get there: take a plane to Sochi and take bus 105 directly to the resort from the airport

Cost: a day pass costs $30 on weekdays and $40 on weekends

Season: November to April

Rentals: $30 per day

Where to stay: there are many kinds of accommodations for all budgets in the village of Estosadok at Krasnaya Polyana (buses 105 and 135 from the lifts) or in Adler.

 

Sheregesh

Source: Artem Muntyan for RIR

There is a Quiksilver snowpark and 10 slopes here stretching four kilometers long. From Dec. 28-Jan. 4, an annual Snowpro snowboarding and alpine skiing school is in operation. There are also paragliding, hang gliding and helicopter tours available. The Shoria Mountain, revered by shamans, and Azasskaya cave, the supposed den of Bigfoot, are nearby making this a unique skiing destination. The resort is expanding and in the near future there will be 39 trails and 21 ski lifts.

Where: Tashtagol District, Kemerovo Region, Sheregesh village, Mustag and Zelenaya mountains   

How to get there: by plane or train to Novosibirsk, then by bus or car to Sheregesh (eight hours and not for the meek)

Cost: from $10 for a four-hour ticket

Season: November to May

Rentals: average price is $18 per day for snowboard or skis with boots

Where to stay: there are roughly 30 hotels located at the foot of Zelenaya Mountain starting at $70 per room or you can rent an apartment about four kilometers from the mountain starting at $40

 

“Sable (Sobolinaya) Mountain”

Source: Lori/Legion-Media

The resort is located in Baikalsk on the slopes of the ancient Khamar-Daban ridge, although the main attraction here is Lake Baikal, which can be seen directly from the slopes. There are 12 routes comprising a total length of 15 kilometers with an elevation of 500 meters. All trails are in excellent condition and there is a spa nearby where guests can take baths with herbs and relax with aromatherapy. You haven’t been here if you haven’t tried the delicious “omul” fish (comes hot or smoked). 

Where: Irkutsk Region, Slyudyansky District, Baikalsk

How to get there:  by plane or by train to Irkutsk, and from there by shuttle bus or taxi to Baikalsk

Cost: $8 for an hour pass and $20 for a day pass

Season: November - April

Rentals: from $18 per day

Where to stay: Sobolinaya Hotel has rooms starting from $45 per night and in the town of Rus cottages for four people cost $190 per night with both options are close to the ski slopes; Baikal Hotel is 2.5 kilometers from the resort with rooms starting at $13.

 

“Mountain Air” - Gorny Vozdukh


Source: Lori/Legion-Media

Gorny Vozdukh (Mountain Air)

This small complex on the outskirts of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk was built in the 1970s before the Olympics in Sapporo, Japan. In the 2000s it was renovated and became quite a comfortable resort. The trails here are well designed and marked out, while the staff knows how to handle the vagaries of the capricious and windy weather. The trails are quite diverse with a vareity of steep and flat slopes. There is also a snowboard park here; it has lights for night skiing, as does the main area. There are 11 trails on Bolshevik Mountain totalling 20 kilometers in length. In the vicinity of the resort there is also a paragliding club, from which you can see Sakhalin Island from a bird’s eye-view.

Where: Sakhalin Region, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Bolshevik Mountain

How to get there: by plane to Yuzho-Sakhalinsk, then by bus or taxi to the mountains

Cost: from $3 per ride, or a one-day ski pass is $25 on weekdays and $40 on weekends

Season: November to July

Rentals: from $25 per day

Where to stay: hotels near the resort cost from $155 per night, with apartments with a picturesque view of the mountain costing about the same; hotels in Yuzho-Sakhalinsk begin at $50 and are only a $4 taxi ride from the mountain.

 

Abzakovo

Source: Lori/Legion-Media

This resort has five trails with an elevation of 311 meters. The longest trail (3.3 kilometers) goes under the chair lift to the Abzakovo guesthouse. There is a good mix of trails here for various abilities, although it is less challenging than the other resorts and more suited for beginners and intermediate skiers. Abzakovo also has 10 kilometers of trails for cross country skiing, biathlons and a shooting range, as well as four tracks for slalom skiing and snowmobile trails. Twice a week there is romantic night skiing among the birch trees.

 

Where: Republic of Bashkortostan, Beloretsky District, Novoabzakovo village

How to get there: by train to Novo-Abzakovo station

Cost: from $8 for an hour ticket or $20 per day

Season: November to May

Rentals: $15 on weekdays and $20 on weekends

Where to stay: the most convenient option is the Abzakovo guesthouse (a double room costs $80), which has a ski lift at its front door; other options include apartments (from $50 per day) to hotels (from $40 per day) in the villages of Abzakovo and Novo-Abzakovo and a cottage for 15 people can be rented for $170 per day.

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