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Skiing in Siberia
October 25, 2006 13:09


Let’s move further to the east of Russia to reach Siberia. Siberia is traditionally seen by foreigners as something completely wild, depopulated and scary. The stereotype is still there and it is true…however only to a point. As for skiing, Siberia offers a couple of skiing opportunities in the Sayany and Altai Mountains.


The Gladenkaya Mountain (meaning Smooth in Russian) is 1.804 meters high and located in the Russian republic of Khakasia on the crossroads of major Sayany Ridges. Ancient Greeks used to call this land Hyperborea. Also, it shares the same latitude with Great Britain. South Khakasia is famous for unique landscape which people often compare with Switzerland. Siberian Switzerland - that’s how they call it. The season runs from November till late April depending on the weather which is different each year.

The main trail goes along the clearing on the west side of the forest-covered mountain. The highest point is 1.710 meters above the sea level while the lowest one is 880 meters. The main trail is 3.5 kilometers long. Theoretically, the trial can be split in two sections with a steep upper one almost 600 meters long and the lower one which is approximately 20 meters wide and rich in bends and turns.

The mountain has recently suffered from a fire which killed the forest. So, the wind feels at home in the valley and blows away the snow. The trail is being constantly tramped down and leveled. Perhaps, that’s what accounts for its name. The second 4.3 kilometers long trail runs down the northwest side.

Be prepared to stand the Siberian cold! It starts blowing mercilessly in the afternoon. On the top the permanent wind always blows in the same direction. When enjoying your forest off-piste get ready to stumble upon stones which are everywhere except for the trails. Badly damaged bottom of your skis or snowboard is the best thing that may happen. Just imagine - you fall in what you think is deep snow but hit against a razor-sharp stone!

The ski center has 2 two-seater chairlifts and a rope town.

How to get there?

In Moscow board on a plane bound for Khakasia’s capital Abakan. Then drive some 80 kilometers by a hired van.


This is a small Belgium-size territory in the south of West Siberia right on the border of the Altai and the Sayany Mountains. The name originates from a minor nation of Shors which have lived on these lands from old. Their ancestors were fantastic blacksmiths – not skiers unfortunately. Now get a few figures: the population density there is 5 men per square kilometer. Nine tenth of the area is covered with impassible taiga forests. The crystal air smells of cedar. The climate is heavy continental, a bit mild due to the landscape. The average summer temperature is +19 while in winter it drops to -20. The season lasts from October till May. However, it is still possible to ski in July. At least, ski-addicts have no problems with that. To try the best trails of West Siberia certified by the FIS go there. Most mountains are not that high – some 800 meters above the sea level, however, the highest tops are Mustag and Zelionaya (meaning Green) Mountains – 1,570 and 1,270 meters high respectively.

Due to its mild climate Mountainous Shoria always enjoys abundance of snow. But for us there is never too much snow. Sometimes it is up to 7 meters deep (bear in mind the height!!!). The snow is light and flaky. You can always find powder at the top of the mountain. The properties of this fantastic snow make it impossible to hardpack. The snowiest months are January, February and March. This powder is worth coming from far abroad!

The most exciting thing is freeride down the steep powder fields and through the fir forest. You will be enchanted by the whimsical landscape and snow-dressed fir trees. The most important is that the Mustag Mountain is absolutely avalanche-safe. The worst that can happen is losing your way – think about the population density! Mustag offers a great variety of interesting safe routes. Currently, there are 6 lifts: 2 two-seater chairlifts and 4 rope tows. The longest trail is more than 4 kilometers long. The main 3-kilometer trail has 640 meters of elevation change. During the business week the area is deserted. The slalom trail is groomed every night. As for the other one only half of it is groomed. The upper section is steep and snow cats can’t make their way there. The 1.000 meter-high Shalym Mountain lies some 4 kilometers from the village of Sheregesh. Its elevation change is 300 meters – not much at all. The longest of the 3 trails is 2 kilometers long. There is also a short 1.4 kilometers long piste. Its upper section is nothing but a black trail – heaven for those who fancy jumping from the rocks to enjoy landing in 3-meter deep powder. Simply unforgettable!

How to get there?

From Moscow board a plane bound for the Novokuznetsk airport and then a 3-hour drive to the village of Sheregesh by a hired van.

Read about other Russian Ski Resorts in Russia

Artiom Ganin

Tags: Siberia Ski Resorts    

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