Winter lovers find escape in the Lebanese mountains

Snowshoeing and Igloo camping are two activities that winter lovers have recently grown fond of.
by Perla Kantarjian

25 January 2020 | 14:07

Source: by Annahar

  • by Perla Kantarjian
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 25 January 2020 | 14:07

Photo shows a winter sports enthusiast holding a Lebanese flag. (Photo courtesy of Haig Melikian).

BEIRUT: Despite having the constant justifiable urge to participate in the revolution, many Lebanese also find time for winter outdoor activities to escape the stress of the country's unease. 

For outdoor enthusiasts, wintertime means utilizing Lebanon’s snow-covered mountainous terrain to delight themselves in a variety of winter activities including snowshoeing, snowboarding, skiing, and igloo camping.

"Due to Lebanon’s topographic diversity and distinctive climate, some outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and caving can be done in all four seasons,” said Oliver Nassif, founder of outdoor recreation group Olistrails.

With a copious amount of ski and snowboarding areas in Lebanon, snowshoeing and Igloo camping are two activities that winter lovers have recently grown fond of.

 "Snowshoeing is the process of hiking through the snow while using rackets and sticks to ease the route while enjoying breathtaking scenery,” Victor Fares, founder of Lebanon Outdoor Activities (LOA), told Annahar. 

Igloo camping on the other hand requires campers to build Igloos or snow huts as their overnight shelters. The time required for building a snow Igloo “depends on the weather, the wind, and the snow quality,” but it “usually takes four hours to build an Igloo of a two-meter diameter,” according to cyclist, hiker, and astrophotographer Haig Melikian.

This year, the tumultuous social, political and financial situations of the country have affected the annual winter plans for many of the participants and organizers of local outdoor activities.

For LOA, the country’s current situation is causing their group several economic obstacles. 

Similarly, Olistrails’ plans are affected by the ongoing situation mostly by the high possibility of the roads closing at any minute, and for that reason, the team preferred to postpone their plans to the end of January in hopes of the betterment of the overall travel circumstances.

“However, with the immense pressure and stress that we are all currently facing, it is very important to make the time to disconnect and relax. In such unfortunate times, we recommend that all the Lebanese try means of natural healing by spending time outdoors,” Fares said.

Melikian also said that holding in mind the psychological impact of Lebanon’s situation, “the more stressed we feel, the more the desire to spend time outdoors rises.”

Karma El Khoueiry, an avid skier of seven years, told Annahar that the current situation of Lebanon has only “made her love being on the slopes more.”

“This year, whenever I’m skiing, I’ve made it a habit to stand at the peaks of Lebanon’s gorgeous mountains and observe the beautiful country beneath me until I psychologically feel ready to go back to Beirut and head on down to the revolution,” she said.

Likewise, Majd Farah, Co-founder of the authentic rural tourism group HighKings, told Annahar that Lebanon is full of natural bounties that he could never leave behind.

“When we are in Lebanon’s nature, we see a raw version of the country away from its corrupt politics and politicians,” Farah said, adding that in order to encourage the struggling Lebanese to resort to winter activities for rejuvenation, the group reduced their activity prices by 20 to 30 percent.

“Nowadays, the most common comment we are receiving from our event participants is how, in light of the ongoing troubles, being in Lebanon’s outdoors was therapeutic for them,” Farah said.

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