Ski Trips To Lebanon For Schools

Round up your students and give us a call. We’ve got the perfect School Ski Package for you!

Since 1998, we have been organizing ski trips for schools abroad wishing to give their students a taste of Lebanon and its winter sports.

The Mzaar ski resort is the most well-known resort in the country. It stretches between 1730 and 2465 meters.  Check out the interactive map  of ski slopes to learn more.

SKILEB.com works with only the best and most qualified ski instructors able to offer students a well-rounded experience. Each child will be treated and instructed according to his or her personal skills and strengths. Lessons are provided for groups of up to 8 students. The levels are: Beginners, Intermediate, Advanced, Professionals.

Check our our website for more information on the matter. Click here.

SKILEB School Trips to Lebanon

Deals For Winter

Winter 2012 is still on its way, and we’ve already got a couple of great deals to help you plan your ski getaway in Lebanon!

The Early Bird Discount
Start now and book your ski package for any time during January 2013 and get a 10% discount on the total rate of your booking. Are you an early bird? As they say, “the early bird gets the worm!”

Deals for winter Skileb

Free Ski Rental at InterContinental Mzaar Hotel
With any stay of 4+ nights at the InterContinental Mzaar Hotel, benefit from a free ski or snowboard rental, with complimentary access to to the hotel’s gym, indoor swimming pool, and spa. This offer is valid through January and March of 2013.

Call us at +961.70.103222 or email us on [email protected] for any inquiries or booking and reservations.

Ski Resorts in Lebanon

Lebanon is known for its mountain chain which, by summer, is an escape from the city heat and chaos, and ,in winter, is the perfect snowy haven for skiers and snowboarders. There are 6 major ski resorts scattered atop Lebanon’s mountains. Each resort  is known for a certain characteristic specific to its location and surroundings.

ski-lebanon-resorts

 Cedars: 
The Cedars is 130 km away from Beirut. Its top altitude is 3086 m! The Cedars has 5 ski lifts and a range of different slopes with some suitable for beginners. You will also find numerous restaurants, pubs, and clubs to enjoy your apres-ski experience.

Laqlouq:
Just 62 km away from Beirut, Laqlouq has a an altitude of 1920 m at its highest peek. There are 9 lifts on-site and all levels of expertise are welcome to enjoy the snow. You will also find on-site restaurants where you can enjoy your lunch break between ski runs.

Mzaar:
Mzaar is just 46 km away from the Beirut International Airport. It boasts 18 lifts and 42 slopes with 82 km of ski tracks. At 2465 m altitude, the view from Mzaar’s mountaintops is breathtaking! There are slopes suitable for amateurs as well as expert skiers. Check out the area’s attractions; there are plenty of restaurants, pubs, cafes, and clubs to keep you busy after your ski adventure. Check out some hotels in Mzaar; it’s never too early to reserve your room!

Faqra:
Faqra is 43 km away from Lebanon’s capital, Beirut. The ski resort is built on privately owned land and has been around since 1974. With an altitude of 1980 m, Faqra is a great choice for your ski getaway. Make sure you leave time to enjoy the region’s other attractions such as restaurants and nightlife hubs.

Qanat Bakish:
45 km away from Beirut, Qanat Bakish, at 2050 m high, is an old village that built its first ski lift in 1967. This well preserved town is a great place to enjoy your secluded ski getaway. There are many restaurants where you can enjoy a nice lunch and snacks throughout your day.

Zaarour:
The closest ski resort to Beirut, Zaarour is one of the smallest yet fun-packed resort in Lebanon. With an altitude of 2000 m and 7 ski lifts, Zaarour ski resort is a privately owned ski club. There are slopes constructed for all levels of skiing and snowboarding skills.

Lebanon Snowboarding Weekend – Day 1

Jan 23, 2011 – Barrystravels.com – by Gefrey

Early start for four of us, well 5 of us actually. Lenny, Matt W, Annalisa and I were on the morning flight and Matt N kindly volunteered to drive us to the airport as he and Morwenna were on the evening flight. Up at 5.30am and on the way to Sharjah airport by 6am for our 8.25am flight. Annalisa did start to get a little worried that we would be late, but in the end we were there with plenty of time and after going back and forth through the security machine, we were checked in by an Air Arabia representative using their machines and then directed to the bag drop off, where inevitably there was a family that had no idea, what ‘bag drop off’ meant and so were checking in properly at the drop off counter. However, even after all this, we still had time to grab some breakfast in Costa or Maccy D’s for Annalisa and then wonder down to the gate.

Matt N and Annalisa had organised the whole trip again (after Nepal) and had used www.skileb.com to do so. Aside from flights these guys took care of everything – so as we emerged from picking up our bags, there was a guy waiting with a sign ready to whisk us off to the minibus that would take us up the mountain.

Now this is the first time I have been to Lebanon and having lived in Dubai for the last 5 years and complained about the state of driving in Dubai, I had my eyes opened!! I love travelling to see other cultures and experience new countries and the more I travel around this region, I see why when you mix all these people together in Dubai, you end up with the issues on the road. In Beirut though, it is mayhem!! Our driver was very good and obviously accustomed to the driving style. However we did have one very close call going up the mountain and I am still not quite sure how we didn’t pile into the back of the small saloon that was turning left!

Another slight point of concern was that we were in Lebanon to ski and snowboard and as we were going up the mountain, there seemed to be a distinct lack of the white stuff! We had been checking the weather beforehand and the website had assured us that all the slopes were open and there was snow. What made it even more worrying was that Matt W had been before and as we passed through Faryaa town was telling us, how when he was there, there was 5ft of snow at this level!! We still hadn’t seen any!!

We needn’t have worried though, a few more twists and turns up the mountain and I spotted our first snow clumps and the temperature noticeably dropped a couple degrees. All of which was good news for us. We kept on climbing and went past the hotel where Annalisa and Matt had stayed last year and also past the Intercontinental Mzaar Hotel where Matt W had stayed previously. The minibus pulled up and we jumped out. Our 3 bedroom apartment* was on the 3rd floor. The shop where we were to hire our equipment from was downstairs, as was a bar and restaurant that would deliver to us!! More importantly, across the street and the car park was the slopes! In terms of location, it couldn’t have been any better. Great start.

Snowboarding Lebanon

As we had taken the early flight and Lebanon is 2 hours behind Dubai, we still had half the day to go. Our package didn’t include this days equipment hire and slope pass, but 30 mins after arriving, we were all sorted and on the slopes! For Lenny it was actually the first time he’d been skiing properly and he did amazingly well all weekend!!  It has been a good year or so since I was last on a snowboard. So we headed to the top of the slope, aptly named Baby! (a nice green run) Just so we could all get our ski legs on! The hardest part of snowboarding I find is getting off the ski lift as you have only one foot in the binding. So ‘Baby’ was good enough for me to start with for practicing getting on and off the lift as well as actually getting down the run.

As it turned out, there was no great drama getting off the lift (today) and after a couple of initial falls snow boarding legs returned and it was a good afternoon on the slopes. Annalisa and Lenny had a good few runs over a few hours and after a fall at the top, Lenny had turned his knee, so was in a bit of pain, so they went back to the apartment to warm up and chill out. So Matt ‘Hunter’ Wilson and I decided we would give the blue run that we could see from our window as it happens, a go. It’s funny how steep it looks when you are on the lift and how much steeper it is once you are stood at the top of the slope!

But for me that’s half the fun and the challenge. The lifts in Mzaar or Faryaa (they are still debating the name) shut at 3.30pm so that they can get everyone off the slopes before it goes dark, so we managed to get 3 runs in before we headed back to the apartment. A fantastic first afternoon on the slopes.

As we were in a self catering apartment, we needed to go and source supplies and also stretch Lenny’s knee out (as well as grab an apres ski beer) so we took a walk down the slope towards the Intercontinental hotel for said beer and also because there was a small supermarket downstairs. I think they thought all their Christmases had come at once as we bought up quite a bit of necessities. In hindsight I am not sure why we did, because after a few beers and a plate of chips between us in the hotel lobby bar, we then walked to the ‘big’ supermarket for more supplies. It was as we left the Intercontinental and the sun had gone completely, that we realised just how cold it had become!
Stupidly we had only come out in T-shirts and hoodies, no gloves or jackets and the wind was biting cold. I can safely say that the walk up the mountain was quite unpleasant. So much so, that I was struggling to breathe when we got back to the apartment. Needless to say, I didn’t go out again without full jacket, gloves and hat!!

After such an early start, it was hard to stay awake much beyond 8pm. However, as Morwenna and Matt were coming in on the later flight, didn’t feel it was fair to all be in bed when they got here. Having said that, I was basically asleep on the ‘Fat Boy’ cushion in the living room. Matt Wilson and Annalisa were playing a game on the iphone. Lenny was tending to his sore knee and desperately wishing he could also go to sleep! The guys arrived as planned and having worked a full day beforehand were quite tired, so a welcome drink or two then we all hit the hay in preparation for our first full day on the slopes!

Great start to the weekend.

*MzaarVille Panoramic Chalets starting $215/night including taxes.

Secret Skiing by Frank Coles

Mar 2006Guardian Unlimited

Tucked away in Lebanon, there are snowfields where the crowds are small, and the attractions – both on and off-piste – are plentiful. Frank Coles reveals skiing’s big secret.

Mzaar Ski Slopes

Lawrence of Arabia, that most illustrious of British business travelers, never skied and thanks to his adventurous legacy, Bedouin, belly dancers, camels, and vast empty deserts are what most visitors have come to expect from the Middle East. You could be forgiven for thinking that an indoor slope in humid Dubai is the only wintry option available, but as the area opens up to development and reform, mountains and slopes that were once the preserve of a few savvy locals are welcoming tourists with winter holidays that have little to do with sunshine or souks.

Flying into Beirut, Lebanon’s capital, it is a surprise to see not just a sunny Mediterranean shoreline but also a glistening white mountain range towering stoically over the thin strip of land that houses the capital. Historically, Lebanon is synonymous with snow; even its name derives from the ancient Semitic word for white, “laban”, and its frosted peaks are referred to in the earliest of texts from Gilgamesh to the Old Testament.

Unlike the Norwegians who have skied for thousands of years, the Lebanese initially showed little interest in the untapped potential of their slopes. That is until the early 20th century when a few enthusiastic mountain men and some French expatriates scaled the Lebanese mountains by donkey, skied down, and then kept going back for more. The locals probably thought they were crazy, but, by the 1940s, the Lebanese had established competitions, clubs and ski schools throughout the country, and were competing on the international stage. The country’s progress towards skiing modernity was then interrupted in the 1970s by a lengthy civil war and only really got going again during the 1990s. Today, this combination of circumstances has created an attractive skiing destination, relatively unspoiled by bumper-to-bumper commercialism.

Lebanon itself is a surprisingly small country, about the size of Yorkshire, and you can drive from one end to the other in around three hours. Separated by the fertile Bekaa Valley, two parallel mountain ranges dominate the country. The most skiable slopes are on the western Lebanon mountain range, with many runs less than an hour away from the fashionable capital. As British skier David Reed informed me, “It’s like having a ski resort just outside Paris.” With its historic ruins, ancient grottoes and the nearby Mediterranean, there are more than enough local distractions to occupy mixed interest couples as well, so you should be able to ski all week, while significant others will be happy not to.

Twenty-eight miles (42km) from Beirut, Mzaar (ex Faraya-Mzaar) is the biggest and best-equipped resort, with 42 slopes and 50 miles (80km) of ski track. Faraya itself, once the starting point, is now just a small town that you pass through on the way to the resort, which is actually situated in the tongue-twisting Ouyoun El Simane, Kfardebian. The skiable ranges of the resort’s three peaks begin at 1,850 metres and reach 2,465 metres at the highest point of the Mzaar Mountain. The treeless slopes create a landscape of rolling white dunes that visually have more in common with the desert than the pine-clad Alps we are familiar with.

The metre-and-a-half of fresh snow that fell on the Mzaar in mid-March was firm underneath with a dry, powdery top, despite a blazing Middle Eastern sun. This provided a controllable surface for beginners and intermediates to get the best out of the longer runs. These usually take two to four days to master depending on your skill level and attention span.

When hurtling down the Mzaar’s steeper pistes, advanced skiers should try to remember to save some breath for the spectacular views out over the Mediterranean. However, you will probably exhaust the trickier descents in a couple of days; at this point it is worth paying for a guide to show you what is not on the official maps.

The queues at most of the Mzaar’s 18 ski lifts are refreshingly short. Combined with the absence of vitriolic hordes elbowing their way through, this makes turnaround times of 20-30 seconds normal, which compares well with the 20-30 minutes of some European resorts. The plentiful lifts close by 4pm at the latest and you will almost certainly be grateful for the opportunity to rest. It is a shock to the sinews how much ground you can cover when queues are almost non-existent.

Après-ski activities are based around the Intercontinental Resort and Spa, Mzaar, which sits at the foot of several steep runs that drop straight down from the panoramic peak of the mountain, directly onto the terrace of the popular, Le Refuge restaurant, and the only five-star ski resort in the whole of Lebanon. At weekends the hotel and private apartments are packed to their Alpine-lodge-style rafters with the great, the good and the good-looking of Lebanese society. According to socialite Ditta Comair, the hotel and village is the centre of “Lebanon’s la dolce vita” during winter months. Thankfully, only a small percentage of these social high-flyers ski, so the slopes remain unexpectedly accessible.

Adding to the weekend buzz are busloads of school children and those who, oblivious to the cold, have made the long trip to see snow for the first time, smoke shisha on the slopes, toboggan, picnic on the piste and party to makeshift sound systems, turning the narrow mountain roads into four lanes of incredibly friendly traffic jam.

By 8pm on Sunday night it’s all over, as Beirutis take their hangovers back to the city and the cosy, relaxed mountain lodge ambiance returns. When the weather makes skiing impossible, a wallow in Les Therme du Mzaar’s heated pool watching snow swirl around the glass canopy overhead is a highly recommended change of pace to soothe aching thighs.

Further downhill there are several slopes on the smaller private resorts of Faqra and Zaarour to explore, along with Qanat Bakish, one of Lebanon’s better preserved towns.

Upcountry, Laqlouq, known as Lucky Luke, favours families and beginners with its unspoilt countryside and tree-lined ridges. Beyond that is the Cedars, Lebanon’s northernmost resort and home to its highest slope, at 3,088 metres. The runs here are more limited than on the Mzaar but there are still a few off-piste thrills to be had, and thanks to a natural amphitheatre-like setting, it also plays host to international competitions run by the Lebanese Ski Federation.

The resort is being modernised in time for the 2009 Asian Ski Championship to be held in Lebanon, but that’s not the only development on the horizon. The Sannine Zenith resort, with a projected cost of $1.2 billion (£690 million), plans to cater for 22,000 skiers on the Sannine Mountain, overlooking the picturesque Bekaa Valley. Its designers are working on Whistler’s current Olympic bid and Lebanon hopes to one day make its own pitch for the Winter Games.

Anything could happen, but this season or next, for snow-loving Europeans keen to carve powder on pastures new, a trip to Lebanon could make a refreshing break from the uber-resort, especially when the crowds are long gone and you can make-believe you are all alone on your own private mountain range.

Way to go

The season starts in December and runs into April. Visit ski lebanon to book your ski holidays in Lebanon.

Flights can be booked separately. Direct flights from London with British Airways and Middle East Airlines take four to five hours.

More from Guardian Unlimited Travel
Country profile: Lebanon
More on winter sports

Powder Snow on the Mediterranean – Bathing and Boarding

Powder Snow German Team Feb 2003German team from PowderGuide.com

The glaring sun is reflected in the sea. At our feet: Beirut, the Lebanese capital. Behind us lies “Bekaa Valley” and in the North the Syrian Desert is stretched out. Our day started in a street café in Beirut. Over Arabian coffee and croissants we enjoyed the approaching spring’s first rays of sun.

In the meantime we are in the snow, on the “Dome du Mzaar” summit (2465m), the highest point in the winter sports resort of Mzaar (ex Faraya-Mzaar). It is the height of winter here; there are over three metres of snow. We can hardly wait, to leave our tracks in the glistening powder snow. Already we have our boards strapped to our feet- everyone has picked their line for descent. The view is unsurpassable. On our descent enormous fountains of powder snow are shooting over our heads. We are plunging into the slopes and into pleasure – there is no stopping us. This is what snowboarding should always be like. After our first deep snow descent in the Middle East we can hardly believe it. We are a ‘mere’ four hours flight away from Germany, in a country that almost everybody knows. Hardly, however, for its perfect winter sports conditions, alas…. This morning we realised quickly that winter sports aren’t exactly the most widespread national sports.

On the way to the skiing resort we have to pass a Lebanese army check-point. We are permitted to pass. The cars parked on the parking space pompously flaunt the wealth of the ‘winter sports enthusiasts’. Even the fixation techniques, with which the – mostly state of the art – skis are transported on the car are extravagant to say the least: to our surprise they are fixed, by the aid of magnetic attachments, directly onto the bonnet. When we first saw this ski presentation we burst out laughing. We received friendly but irritated looks for this, and found out later that this appeared to be the common way to carry your sports equipment here. Yet sports do not play the major role here. What counts is to see and be seen. Nearly everybody is bustling around the main lift, close to the parking spaces and many are just using the lift to reach the sun terrace of the nearby restaurant. The other chair lifts are hardly in use; here, on the other hand, we find perfect freeriding conditions: untraced slopes of powder snow.

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On the previous evening we were in Beirut and had arranged to meet Judi, a snowboarder on the Lebanese snowboard team, for dinner. When he picks us up from the hotel in Beirut he proudly presents his new car which he had just gotten for his 18th birthday: Mercedes S- Class, black with lots of leather. Later on George, a friend of Judi’s, arrives on the scene. His car is substantially smaller – he drives a Porsche.

After dinner we plunged into Beirut’s nightlife. Lebanon is a cultural mix of Islam and Christianity. But this, we had not expected: Clubs that are elaborately styled by designers and party addicts that dance light-heartedly until the early morning. And the people of Beirut have a lot to catch up on; girls in mini-skirts dancing on aquaria in which piranhas are swimming. The whole front of the bar is made of glass, which is nothing out of the usual, really. However between the panes of glass a multitude of exotic fish is swimming. This is roughly how I visualise a pet shop for the super-rich. Unluckily the prices for drinks easily reach the level of Munich. But we don’t want to miss the experience – we have to pay the penalty the next morning.

During the atrocious civil war, Lebanon rose to a sad prominence; Beirut, above all, where fierce riots took place. Before then Beirut was known as the ‘Paris of the east’: splendour and glamour in Arabia. Within a short period Lebanon became synonymous for desperate civil war, and we too primarily associated fanatic Hisbollah fighters, road blocks and completely bombed out houses with the small country.

When we heard about the Lebanese ski team of the Olympic Games in the seventies we had become curious. Somewhere these athletes must have practised back then, and these mountains must still be there today. Here, snowboarding and bathing on the same day is supposed to be possible. Curious, we set out. ‘We’ meaning, the former world-cup pro rider Burgel Heckmaier, the freeriders Lars and Sven Gitterman, photographer Thorsten Indra and myself. After having arrived in Beirut, we still have some time: we dive into the cultural life of the pulsating capital. Beirut is once more beginning to bloom. You can feel and see the outset everywhere. When we first ramble through the city the influences of the different cultures become apparent and we are greeted with effusive cordiality:”Where are you from? “, we are often asked. The reactions to our answers are exceedingly friendly: “Oh Germany, welcome to Lebanon, have a nice journey! “. At first I was rather surprised at the friendliness and was even a little diffident after some previous (zum besseren verständnis der vorzeitigkeit) negative experiences in Arabian countries. Later on I feel ashamed of my initial mistrust. Nobody wants to sell us anything or con us. The people here are simply unbelievably friendly and obliging!

On the way to the beach we discover the district of ‘Centre-Ville’. It was almost completely destroyed in the civil war and used to be the cultural centre of Beirut. The mixture of Arabian and Italian Baroque architecture was rebuilt lovingly over a long period of reconstruction. The first street cafés and shops are already bringing new life into the city centre and the horrors of the war are hard to imagine. In the cafés you can deem yourself to be right in Paris and especially at the sight of the attractive Lebanese ladies. If you go another two streets further, however, to the ‘Place of Martyrs’ the traces of the house-to-house fighting are still to be recognised – and suddenly the thought of war doesn’t seem so far any longer.

Our driver picks us up at the hotel and first of all we get stuck in the traffic chaos of Beirut. Innumerable Mercedes-Benz cars – from 1950ies models to the newest s-class. I have never seen so many cars by the brand with the star. Seen them so concentrated. ‘Made in Germany’ seems highly in demand here. From the ‘Avenue de Paris’ we see the snow covered mountains that loom beyond the city for the first time. It is only the end of February but the temperatures are t-shirt adaptable. We can hardly imagine to go snowboarding the next day.

From Beirut we travel through hilly landscapes. The snow covered mountains are glistening in the sun. Slowly they are growing. Too slowly for our liking, we can hardly wait to arrive there. Eventually (geändert da sonst das konzept der vorfreude weg ist) we reach Mzaar (ex Faraya-Mzaar), the biggest ski resort in Lebanon. There is snow here, luscious three metres of it! The enormous walls of snow along the roads are keeping us from seeing too much, we are driving through an ‘open air tunnel’. Although we are so far south, astonishingly there is more snow than in the Alps. The resort of Mzaar is relatively modern: 16 lifts, of the newer design and plenty of room for descent. From the highest peak of the region (2500m) we set out on our first off-piste descents. The Mediterranean powder snow is so unbelievable to ride that we proceed right down to the road. There however we have to realise that we are now situated four metres above the road. It is only with great difficulty that we reach the street below. We make it in the end and immediately make for the lifts again. It is one of the best days of this winter, and this although each one of us spends about 100 days on the snowboard each winter. We have arranged to have dinner with Sara, Judi and George from the Lebanese snowboard team. Antoine, their coach comes especially from Beirut to meet us. He and his brother Habib import snowboards to Lebanon, organise snowboard races and attend to the young snowboard talents. The two don’t look like they have money troubles.

After the meal its party time. We are still knackered from the long night, in Beirut, when we had a few drinks to the coming days. The exuberant mood of our Lebanese friends is highly infectious – and there was a bad weather forecast for the next day anyway: we could sleep late.

Burgl cracked the joke of the evening when she asked Sven and Antoine whether all Muslims were Christians. First she caught some irritated looks for her religious knowledge, then everyone broke out laughing and we all had a giggle for the next couple of hours on account of this slogan. Whacked and tired we leave for the hotel late at night. Burgl, our party-girl and religion-expert wants to keep partying and remains at the club. It is still snowing and we are glad to get to bed.

We are standing on the summit with our Lebanese friends. It has snowed heavily during the night, over 30 cm. Instead of the predicted bad weather, our short sleep was disturbed by our early-bird Lars’ triple roar: “Suuun! Poooowder! Get uuup!”. Our ears are still booming from the disco-night. Yet, Lars is right. Within record time we are set to go. Luckily the packing is an automatic procedure – every motion practised a thousand times.

The dignified Lebanese winter athletes don’t seem to care too much about powder snow. They prefer to use the ski-runs: how lucky for us. Again our Lebanese friends are shocked when we tell them that, on no account will we use the runs, even though they are, as our Lebanese argue, so magnificently prepared. Having been freeriders and powder snow enthusiasts for so many years, we simply can’t miss our chance in these dream conditions, much as we’d like to. We fell for the Lebanese powder, the view of the sea and of Beirut regularly taking our breath away: we never want to leave… unhurriedly we are drawing our tracks in the powder slopes. We find numerous snow cornices going down along the gullies. We each get our own gully and we can let off steam to our heart’s content.

We are on our way to Cedars the second largest winter sports resort in Lebanon. A stop at the 7000 year old seaport of Byblos is an absolute must. We have a meal in a traditional Lebanese restaurant. In the restaurants there are up to 40 different hors d’oevres which are consumed with flat bread. Olive oil pickles, sesame pastes, grilled vegetables, different sorts of salad etc. This is so opulent that no one is hungry anymore when the main course is served.

We continue towards ‘Cedars’. The mountain pass weaves through innumerable mountain villages up the valley. In the full moon we reach the high valley of Cedars. The village lies at an altitude of 1950 metres and is surrounded by snowy peaks of around 3000 metres, brightly illuminated by the moon. ‘Cedars’, was mainly famous for its cedar woods. Sadly, the woods were almost completely cleared and the valuable wood was exported. What remained is a small forest which is now protected by nature conservation. New cedars are planted again. The trees can reach an age of up to 1500 years, but only grow very slowly. It will take a very long time until there are prospering woods once more.

The resort of ‘Cedars’ is not as big and modern as that of ‘Mzaar’. There are but a few, rather ancient lifts, although the highest one reaches up to 2800 m above sea level. “Why are the other lifts not in use?” I ask the owner of the lifts. He looks at me uncomprehendingly, points to the plane practise lift and tells me how wonderfully the slope is prepared. At my repeated question concerning the closed lifts he explains that the only lift that goes up the mountain is an army lift and is therefore reserved to the soldiers who are practising to ski there. This is getting a bit much, we think: we are supposed to snowboard on plane terrain just because the Lebanese mountain infantry is practising to ski? “There is, however, always a possibility”, he says, grinning broadly, and writes us a letter of reference. At least this is how we understand the scrap of paper written in Arabian. The lift manager hardly speaks any English.

There are two soldiers sitting in the lift hut, scrutinising us grimly. They read the note and, after a short discussion, they give us a day ticket. We queue up at the lift. To say that we stood out, with our colourful snowboard gear, would be understated. The soldiers, in their uniforms resemble a motley crew of mercenaries. The ride up with the lift is a very special experience. The lift is at least 50 years old and doesn’t seem to have ever been maintained. Half way up there appears to be the regular place of disembarkation. But I don’t want to get off before the steep part! This however is just what the wildly gesturing ‘disembarkation-soldiers’ are signalling me to do. I decline just as vehemently and point further up. They jump aside at the last moment and clear the way, shaking their heads. Arriving at the top I find out why: the ramp at the end of the disembarkation platform is missing! I jump off the lift and come to a halt just before the abyss. Luckily part of the catwalk is still there on the one side. From here I can warn the others of the danger of crashing; by means of shouting. From the highest point of the resort it is not far to the ‘Quorned as Sawda’. With 3087 metres it is the highest peak in Lebanon. With snow shoes we climb towards the peak. The way turns out quite strenuous and long. It takes us over three hours to reach the summit.

The ascent was worthwhile. We enjoy the marvellous view of Lebanon. From the Mediterranean the green hills rise and become alpine in the high valley of Cedars. In between the canyon of Kadisha Valley is bedded. Below us lies ‘Cedars’ with its last cedar trees. Towards the east we overlook the barren ‘Bekaa Valley’. It is the biggest viticultural region of Lebanon. The wine is especially fine, the Romans already started to grow wine there 2000 years ago. The snow cover extends down to 1200 metres – it only comes to an end where it reaches the first olive groves. In the distance we can make out ‘Baalbek’. Here there is one of the biggest and best preserved roman temples. ‘Baalbek’ was the most important Roman base in the Middle East.

The view reaches to the ‘Anti-Lebanon Mountains’, lying opposite, a little lower but also snow covered. To the north we see the Syrian Desert. Unbelievable! From the deeply snowed up summits we perceive all imaginable climatic zones from the desert to the sea. Time is pressing. We reach a ridge dropping towards the east and are looking for a suitable descent that will lead us back to ‘Cedars’. At the end of the ridge a gully drops down over 1100 metres of altitude: steep and interspersed with rocks. From the sea clouds have gathered. The atmosphere in the evening sun is becoming mystical: the valley is glowing under the low sun; the clouds reach up to just below ‘Cedars’. Everyone picks their line. After a breathtaking descent we reach the village tired and content. Our landlord welcomes us with hot tea, the traditional Lebanese water-pipe and local culinary delights.

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On the way back to Beirut we pass the famous Kadisha Valley. At our feet the Mediterranean is glinting invitingly in the sun. A little later we reach the nearby beach of ‘Tam Tam’.

Now we want to find out: boarding and bathing on the same day?

So, here we are; just back from snowboarding at a level of 3000 metres with descents of over 1000 metres of altitude. From ‘powder-high’ to ‘paddling-fun’.

Now we want to dive into the still quite wintry waters. We just have to get in there now. After having shown off in front of our friends: “We’re going to Lebanon, bathing and boarding, in February”. We make Lars go first, he had always had the biggest mouth of all. With a running start and a loud “yeaaaah” he jumps into the water and dives into the first wave. As there are no visible signs of ‘frostbite’ on his face we dare to go in too. And with a temperature of 19° C the water is really quite tolerable, even pleasant, warmer than a mountain lake in summer, after all!

Before the civil war broke out it was considered chic to combine winter sports with a seaside holiday in Lebanon. 30 years later we can state that this combination is unique.

Back in Beirut we meet up once more with our friends from the Lebanese snowboard team. Within a short time we had become friends in spite of all differences. Together we go to one of the most fashionable clubs in Beirut. The ‘BO-18’ is the club of the party-crazy youth. The name ‘BO-18’ was taken over from a bomber-plane that dropped bombs regularly on the Lebanese capital during the war. The roof can be lifted automatically, which it is at night. Under the starry sky there is partying and dancing until early in the morning. The Lebanese have their own ways of coping with events of the past – and partying wildly certainly is one of them.

Although the wounds of the long civil war are just starting to heal, we are leaving Lebanon with a feeling of hope. In spite of all the horrors of war, the Lebanese seem to have managed to leave the shadows of the past behind them. On the road to a peaceful future the Lebanese could become an example for the crisis and conflict stricken Middle Eastern region.