Yearning for the start of the ski season? CK Ski has put together their top destinations for backcountry (off piste) fans to exciting, off-the-beaten-track resorts, accessible from Hong Kong. Destinations include Asahidake, Japan, the Dolomites in Italy and Gulmarg, India. The selections include guiding options to help you discover plenty of powder on your next escapade.
Gulmarg, Kashmir, has the world’s highest operational gondola, reaching the summit of Mt. Apharwat at 3950m. Backcountry options are virtually unlimited and although the terrain may appear extreme, it is actually very varied. The availability of untouched, quality skiing/ snowboarding is so high that it is often referred to as ‘heli-skiing by gondola.’
K-Line Himalayan Adventure Sports, operating since 2009, runs a series of eight and 15-day backcountry packages to Gulmarg, inclusive of daily guiding, with each day tailored to the individual/group’s ability. All backcountry is accessed from the gondola with traversing and minimal hiking (although if you do fancy skinning up, just ask!) You can hire safety equipment with K-Line, powder skis and boards. Even though it feels like a fairly new destination, Gulmarg can get booked up quickly with local Indian families enjoying the beginner and sledding areas. Contact K-Line for further information and to book a guided adventure.
Fly to Srinagar via Delhi International Airport and Gulmarg is 50 km away. Cathay Pacific, Jet Airways and Air India fly direct to Delhi, while Jet Airways and Air India fly to Srinagar via Delhi. www.makemytrip.com allows you to book domestic flights separately.
Dolomiti Superski, Italy
The Dolomiti Superski region encompasses 12 resorts featuring 1,200 km of pistes, over 5,000 vertical feet of terrain and seriously impressive scenery. The region includes the welcoming atmosphere of the Ampezzo region to the Dolomiti di Sesto and Alta Badia and the towering peaks of the Val de Fassa and Val Gardena. Few places offer the expansive skiing of the Dolomites – off-piste terrain, massive vertical, open bowls and challenging couloirs accompanied by low air humidity for extreme powder.
Dolomite Mountains, a tailor-made and group tour operator, specialises in crafting unique adventure travel experiences to the region, offering off piste, ski safari and ski touring itineraries. Tours include the six-day ‘Off-Piste in Alta Badia, Arabba, and Cortina,’ and ‘Off Piste Ski Safari Traverse,’ where you’ll experience the region’s off piste descents in the day and the hospitality of a rifugio (alpine inn) by night. Dolomite Mountains work with Professional UIAGM/IFMGA Ski Guides to accompany your tours.
Fly direct to Milan Malpense, Italy with Cathay Pacific or to Venice (with one stop) for a shorter transfer to your skiing adventure destination.
This beautiful and quiet backcountry destination is a traditional, Japanese resort, untouched by westernisation, with a high standard of infrastructure and amenities. The Asahidake ski area sits on Mount Asahi, part of the Daisetsuzan National Park, Hokkaido.
The real attraction of the tallest mountain in Hokkaido, is the backcountry riding. With a long winter and cold temperatures, Asahidake receives approximately 15 metres of powder per winter and is renowned as a top backcountry resort in Japan (although it is relatively undiscovered, known mostly to Japanese pros and industry insiders). This resort is a great introduction to backcountry/ off-piste. All of the riding is accessed via the gondola, with minimal traversing/walking (unless you fancy snow-shoeing or skinning). K-Line offers off-piste packages to Asahidake, all of which include daily off-piste guiding. Their guests tend to stay in a great 5-star hotel with one of the best Onsens in Hokkaido, an ice bar and a French haute cuisine restaurant.
Fly direct to Sapporo or via Tokyo, followed by a domestic flight to Asahikawa Airport – Asahidake is 40 minutes away. Alternatively fly to New Chitose airport, Sapporo – Asahidake is three-hours away. Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines fly direct to Sapporo, while EVA Air and Japan Airlines fly to Asahikawa with one stop.
Kicking Horse, Canada
To ski aficionados, Kicking Horse is a well-known resort. However, we felt it was definitely worth mentioning this great North American option for Hong Kong’s advanced skiers. Three hours from Calgary airport and you are in a fantastic treeline resort with excellent backcountry areas due to the marked (but unpisted) runs from the length of the ridges into three bowls (Bowl Over, Crystal Bowl and Feuz Bowl). The in-bound terrain provides a wide variety of challenging skiing including couloirs, steeps, bumps, off-piste and trees.
Adrenalin Descents offers daily ski tours in the backcountry surrounding Kicking Horse, to enable you to explore the terrain in the safest way.
Fly to Calgary, via Vancouver and Kicking Horse is about three hours away. Airlines including Cathay Pacific, Air Canada and Delta offer this flight route.
About the author: CK Ski is a Hong Kong-based snowsports information service and representation company for organisations worldwide keen to promote their product in Asia. If you are planning your next ski holiday and would like advice advice, please email CK Ski.
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