Skiing in Uzbekistan

Skiing in Uzbekistan

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Skiing in Uzbekistan holds a special allure. Ski the old Silk Road in Central Asia that connects Europe with China, gaze at the snow caked mountains, and ski or snowboard the super dry powder that comes from being in a country that is double land locked.

Skiing in Uzbekistan hasn’t really been a thing until recently. Actually Uzbekistan tourism in general wasn’t really a thing thanks to draconian visa application processes and a dictator who was a bit scary until his passing in 2016. Thankfully snow tourism then opened up, and the advent of the modern Uzbekistan ski resort of Amirsoy in late 2019 was a bit of a game changer for international skiers and snowboarders.

Otherwise your options for ski resorts in Uzbekistan are limited, with facilities that are reminiscent of the Soviet period, communist relic hotels, rickety old lifts, and après ski that consists of sculling out of a cheap vodka bottle. Unless you’re at the new Amirsoy ski resort, Uzbekistan skiing is really for the intrepid adventure traveller, even if you’re heli skiing.

Uzbekistan Ski Resorts

Amirsoy Mountain Resort is the largest of the Uzbekistan Ski Resorts with 645 metres of vertical drop (1,630 – 2,275m) and 22 runs (by 2022), although it would be considered modestly sized on a world stage. The main lift infrastructure at this stage includes a shiny new gondola and quad chair. The piste is mostly directed at beginner and intermediate riders, yet there’s plenty of off-piste opportunities, and ski touring opens up a myriad of ridges off which to play. Lift passes are dirt cheap in an effort to attract a domestic ski market, whilst the on-mountain chalet lodging is rather fancy and attracts the associated price tag.

Chimgan Ski Resort (or Chimgon) is located about 100km east of Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. It has a handful of rickety lifts and is good for novices and snowplay and it gets pretty crowded with domestic sightseers.

Beldersay Ski Resort (Mt Kumbel) is 5km from Chimgan. The ski area only has 2 lifts (a chair lift & J bar surface lift) and 3.2km of slopes, but at least the slopes are a bit steeper than Chimgan. The ski area can be crazy busy on weekends with sightseers.

Where is the Skiing in Uzbekistan?

All the ski resorts in Uzbekistan are located near Tashkent, in NE Uzbekistan on the edge of the Chatkal Range of the Western Tien Shan Mountains near the borders with Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

The gateway airport is the Islam Karimov Tashkent International Airport. Uzbekistan Airways plus various other carriers provide flights to Tashkent from lots of cities and airports including London Heathrow, Dubai, Seoul and Istanbul, although there may only be a couple of flights a week from some airports.

Heli Skiing Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan heli skiing is growing in popularity, in part because it’s some of the cheapest heli skiing in the world.

Most of the heli skiing in Uzbekistan occurs a little further to the NE of the ski resorts in the Chatkal range as well as in the Ugamskiy and Pskemiskiy ranges, near the border with Kyrgyzstan. Heli skiing altitudes range from 2,500 to 4,200 metres and some of the descents are very long.

What is somewhat unique compared to heli skiing in Canada, Alaska or many other parts of the world is the type of helicopters used. The MI 8 is a Russian beast, with twin turbines and the capacity to fit 17 to 18 people. What it lacks over helicopters typically used for heli skiing is the agility and capacity to land on knife edge ridges and other tight LZs, but the big birds sure beat long skin tracks.

Snow

The region is renowned for a deep snowpack that usually has good stability, even on the steeps, due to very consistent winter temperatures. The snow quality is usually very dry considering that it’s nowhere near the ocean, and the weather is often reliably fine between short snowstorms.

Tashkent

It seems apt to spend some time in Tashkent at the commencement or end of your Uzbekistan ski or snowboard trip. Tashkent is an ancient city on the Silk Road, although after an earthquake in 1966 there isn’t much left of the charming Central Asian parts and it’s mostly a Soviet style city. Staying in Tashkent offers an opportunity to soak in some genuine Uzbek culture, see the charm of the old town with its bazaars, mosques, and strange fascination with mausoleums.

Hotels in Tashkent provide very good value for money, especially in the winter months. Tashkent has a good assortment of quality western hotels such as a Hilton and Hyatt, whilst finding a hotel with some Central Asian character can be a little more challenging.

Tashkent Hotel Listings
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