Nearly half of Iran has an arid climate, receiving less than 4 inches of rain a year, but considering that Iran is the 18th largest country in the world, it spans a huge area in which there is also mountainous terrain that boasts extensive backcountry skiing; untouched, chest deep powder and what’s more, only 1% of the skiers come from abroad.
Just 2 hours from Tehran is the Albors Mountains range. Dizin is the largest and most popular ski resort in Iran, with the highest ski lift reaching 3,600m (11,800ft). Although the lift systems are a little dated in comparison to Europe, it adds to the charm of the resort.
Due to Iranian laws, men and women are segregated on ski lifts, so they must reconvene at the top of the lift. However, the strict dress code of Tehran seems to be a little more relaxed in Dizin, women can opt for helmets or hats to cover their hair.
Vintage chairlifts in Dizin
The resort sits at a height of 2650m, while the ski lifts go up as high as 3,600m, this ensures longer seasons which begin in mid-November and last until May, deeper fresher powder and more reliable snow conditions…
Fresh Pow in Iran
What’s more, Iranians don’t tend to veer off piste, so you will have countless fresh tracks all to yourself. Nonetheless, it is essential that you take a guide as they pisteurs don’t use dynamite to trigger avalanches, so some areas are avalanche prone and are especially dangerous after a large snowfall. You can hike up Mt. Damavand, a potentially still active volcano that is the highest peak in the Middle East. Taking a few days to climb, with 3 camps along the way, this is not an adventure for the faint hearted, with the peak towering above at a height of 4,250m, it is common that hikers have a bout of altitude sickness. Once you reach the top, it is roughly a 2 hour descent of epic off piste, including couloirs, bowls and flaky powder.
Shemshak is the second largest resort and is also in the Alborz mountain range, suited best to expert skiers and boarders, although it is a little lower, the lifts reach up to 3,000m and the slopes are steeper. Other smaller resorts include Darbandsar, Pooladkaf, Ab-Ali, Sepidan and Tochal.
Iran should not be your destination of choice if you want to party the night away, it is more of a cultural experience. It is illegal to drink alcohol, so if you are happy with Iranian tea, espressos and alcohol free beer, then you can embrace your detox and wake up in the mornings feeling fresh eyed and bushy tailed ready to conquer the vast off piste terrain.
Finally, you will need a visa if you are travelling with a UK passport, this can be obtained at the Iranian Embassy in London before you hop on your 5 hour flight to Tehran. You will be greeted with affordable prices for both gear and lift passes, so what are you waiting for?