Skiing in Lebanon
Every visitor to Lebanon (Capital: Beirut) has heard that this is the only country in the world where one can ski on snow in the morning and swim in the waters of the Mediterranean in the afternoon. This is due to the fact that Lebanon's mountain range rises up above a very narrow coast. Even the highest resorts are only a short drive from the coast. On clear days a particularly spectacular view can be seen from the top. From the top of Mzaar, the highest point above the resort of Faraya, the Bekaa Valley and the Anti Lebanon mountain range can be seen to one side, and to the other, the city of Beirut and other towns along the coast.
Skiing in Lebanon: History
The first pioneer was a young engineering student who brought with him the enthusiasm of skiing when he returned from his studies in Switzerland. This enthusiasm spread slowly at first, and it was not until the 1930’s that skiing in Lebanon became widely popular.
At first, skiing was not as appealing as it is today as there weren’t any ski lifts until the 1950’s, because before enjoying the thrill of a «run», the skiers would have first to the top of the slope on foot. So because of all the time and the efforts that they would have to spend, skiers would only manage a couple of runs each day. An earlier President of the ski federation said: «We rented wooden skis, old fashioned leather boots with simple bindings and walked up the slope». He added: Skier in lebanon - history of skiing«To keep from slipping, we put fox skins under our skis»
Skiing in Lebanon gained wide recognition as a serious pursuit in late 1930’s thanks to the French army who set an army ski school in the area of the Cedars in the north of the country. Its aim was to train soldiers in mountain patrol techniques and produced the country’s first expert skiers.
Early 1950, the first ski lift was constructed but it was too small and could only be used for one month a year. Two years later the government paid for the construction of a large ski lift in the cedars. The ski federation has since been responsible for the organization of international competitions and Lebanese skiers would travel abroad to take part in international and regional competitions.
From 1958 till today, other resorts began to show up, starting with the construction of chalets and lifts in Faraya Ouyoune El-Simane, Laqlouq and Zaarour.
Lebanon has six ski resorts with groomed slopes, catering to skiers and snowboarders of all levels. Beyond the skiable domains await you kilometers of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails waiting to be discovered; Lebanon has something for everyone. Each of the ski resorts has a different flavor; however, it is Faraya Mzaar (Kfardebian) that offers world-class infrastructure and facilities for the tourists. The Cedars resort is ideal for nature getaway seekers, and Laqlouq is suitable for families with levels up to intermediate.
Cross Country Skiing
Nordic skiing or cross-country skiing in Lebanon has become more popular after the year 1990 and is also being adopted by the young Lebanese generation, seeking tranquility, away from the crowded ski slopes. Amazing as it sounds, high plateaus in Mount Lebanon are ideal for cross-country skiing, and most of them lie in the neighborhood of the ski resorts. The average skiing period stretches four months easily as from mid December.