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November, 20, 2016

Skiing at Baikal

The area of the Baikal Mountains in winter receives around 5-6 meters of snowfall, so skiing is one of the favorite tourist activities this time of year.

Besides, the weather at Baikal in winter is not as cold as in the other Siberian cities, as the heat accumulated by Lake Baikal during summer keeps winters mild and sunny, and the temperature rarely drops below 15°C.

 

The wide slopes of Baikal Mountains are perfect both for experienced skiers and complete beginners, as well as snowboarders. Skiing season starts in November and lasts until mid-April thanks to the equipment that produces artificial snow. Slopes for freeriding are situated away from the lake, so in terms of safety and convenience, the best times to visit would be from November to early December and from February to mid-March.

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The snow-covered areas of Baikal are accessible to skiers of varying levels of ability. For this purpose, special routes are open on the southern and northern ends of the lake. If the southern route is where you are going, you can take a train from Irkutsk to the station “Tyomnaya Pad’”, then go down to Baikal and ski across the lake to Slyudyanka.
Afterwards, you can take a night train back to Irkutsk or spend the night at a homestay in Slyudyanka which offers a variety of other tourist activities.

Ski resorts of Baikal are on par with the best resorts of Europe and the Caucasus.

One of the most famous among them is the ski resort called "Gora Sobolinaya". The resort is located on the southeastern coast of Lake Baikal at the foot of the Khamar-Daban mountain range, near the town of Baikalsk. This is one of the best equipped ski slopes for skiing not just in Siberia, but in the whole of Russia. Therefore, the place is suitable for both professionals and those who are just starting out. If you see skis or a snowboard for the first time, feel free to ask an instructor for help and practice on the training slope. Those not interested in skiing can go for a ride on a snow tube.

Another thing that makes Gora Sobolinaya special is that its tracks are adapted yearly to the changeable weather of the region, so they are constantly modified. In winter the place is visited by around 3500 tourists, so weekdays would be ideal for skiing. Tracks here have a total length of 16 km.

If you would rather stay closer to Irkutsk, you can ski near the village of Olkha which is situated 25 km away from the city. The 1.5 km-long track is in operation since 1981, and due to its proximity to Irkutsk, the place is visited by a large number of skiers, snowboarders, and other vacationers every weekend.

Of course, you can also ski at the main tourist town of Baikal, Listvyanka. 

The local ski complex “Eastland” offers both ski runs and tours of the main attractions of Baikal. Tracks here have an average length of 1300 m, and the place will also be a perfect choice for a snowboarder with its rails, boxes, and ski jumps. Currently, it is the only snowboard park of this level in Siberia. Another pleasant bonus is the famous view point, Kamen Cherskogo, where visitors can see a majestic panorama of Lake Baikal.


There are also certain spots at Baikal that can be recommended to any fans of freeride and extreme skiing down pristine snowy slopes.
For example, the snow-covered hills of one of the most ancient ridges of our planet – Khamar-Daban, visited yearly by hundreds of professional skiers from all over the world because of the gorgeous “powder” snow available in area. Khamar-Daban is situated on the territory of Slyudyansky District and seven districts of Buryatia, having a length of more than 350 km.
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It has its own special climate, with mild and pleasant winters (the temperature rarely drops below 15°C) and very little wind, thus offering the best conditions for skiing. To make your vacation even more memorable, you can go on a walk and take in the beautiful sights of the area, like the famous thermal springs. Elevation difference here is about 600-850 m, snow depth up to 6 m, and slope distance up to 5 km.

Another popular place for freeriding is the Mamai mountain, a part of Khamar-Daban ridge located 12 km away from Baikal. The local relief consists of slopes on both banks, forest ravines, and hanging valleys. All these elements can be used for recreational or extreme skiing. There are no tracks here, but a good elevation difference (600 m) and long slopes (1-3 km).

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