Skiing in the Stans is still an unknown entity in the eyes of the world. Too bad, since Central Asia is just as interesting to visit covered in snow as baking in the summer heat. Winter tourists can enjoy themselves on the slopes of one of the 40+ resorts, or without the use of a lift while freeriding, tour skiing, catskiing or heliskiing. Clear skies, abundant sun and low temperatures make for excellent winter sports conditions.
The thick layers of fluffy powder on Kyrgyzstan’s endless, untouched slopes have already garnered a bit of reputation amongst freeriders. At the moment it is a great place for those powder freaks looking for something else, with just the right mix of foreigners and locals offering good services, tailored to little groups of in-the-know enthusiasts. The powder of Kazakhstan also has potential, but it’s not made a name yet, for better or worse.
Bishkek and Almaty both have a plethora of little resorts nearby. Some lifts are shiny and new, many more are rickety homemade installations from Brezhnev’s days. It’s all part of the adventure. Karakol in Kyrgyzstan and Shymbulak in Kazakhstan are the 2 biggest, most modern resorts, but know that there are many more options less well advertised. Many appear on these pages for the first time in the English language, formerly only known to the Russian-speaking world. Further out in the Tien Shan and Altai more opportunities await those with a sense of adventure.
Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan also offer opportunities to the Silk Road winter tourist. Expect to see more on that here at one point in the future.