Saturday, March 21, 2020

Minefield skiing in Israel

Back in the pre-Covid world, I had order cheap Black Friday for a quick stop in Israel, to collect yet another country for skiing. Yes, you can ski in Israel, at Mount Hermon on the border towards Syria and Lebanon. The trip turned out to be apocalyptic both because of the virus and impending world shutdown, but also because of skiing on an area that was just recently a war zone, and near the borders. Got told by the solders multiple times to not continue further.

A trip to Mount Hermon can take a while, because you will not be the only one going up; there are many tourists going up to see the famed thing, snow! But only few of them are actually going skiing, to the slopes are not crowded. You'll most likely wait an hour in the traffic jams to the mountain, and inside the gates you'll park and board a bus to take you the last few kilometres to the actual ski area.

The ski area is full service; there's cafeterias, ski- and clothes rental, and various activities. Including gondola rides to the top (only for non-skiers) and chair-lift-simulation-rollercoasters. But Tero and I obviously didn't come for those, we came for the skiing!

The skiing on Mount Hermon is concentrated around two main lift lines (map), one two-seater chairlift taking you to the top near the gondola track, and another one on the ridge towards a side valley. From the top you can see the border towards the demilitarised zone. I attempted to ski to the edge of the ridge to see better, but the solders ordered me not to.

The area is also reported to have mines. There's barbed wire outside the slopes in some places, and a prohibition to not ski outside the slopes. We skied outside the slopes, of course :-) The snow was not new, but it was untouched, and we had plenty of fun cruising on the steep slopes under the chairlift to the top.

Didn't hit any mines...

We also found bunkers, abandoned watchtowers, saunas on our trip. And attempted to find caves...

More pictures, first signs and views and skiing:

Locals enjoying snow:

Barbed wire:

More skiing:

The ski area:

This article has also been published at Teton Gravity Research (TGR). And all skiing articles are of course at! You can also read all the Planetskier and Planetcaver articles at Blogspot and TGR. Photos, videos, and text (c) 2020 by Jari Arkko and Tero Kivinen. All rights reserved.

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