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Little Snow in Big China: Discovering China's Ski Areas

The nascent Chinese ski industry is a pretty funny little operation that for all intents and purposes, didn't exist until ten years ago. But with a burgeoning middle class and air pollution in Beijing spiking at 43 times the level the World Health Organization considers healthy, there's the disposable income and incentive to get out of the city and into the fresh air. Of course, the chairlifts at China's few ski hills are likely powered by the same coal-fired power plants dousing major cities in deadly smog, but irony isn't exactly a famous past-time in communist China.

Information about Chinese ski areas is pretty hard to find, with Western travel sites offering accolades for those that actually have web sites. Most ski areas are measured by the length of their slopes instead of their vertical drop. Xiling Snow Mountain Ski Resort, the subject of the fantastically-Photoshopped photo above, is said to have a vertical relief of some 12,300 feet, while another third party site asserts that it's only 600 feet tall. Photos are scant and show competing vistas. Xiling appears to either be in the foothills like most Chinese ski areas, or bordering massive glaciated peaks. Either way, the average annual snowfall hovers around a pitiful 23", so don't go hoping for a powder day.

While the British have done a good job exploring the offerings and came to the conclusion that the weather sucks, the copywriting on the English versions of the Chinese resort sites has still not been penetrated by native English speakers. Eight-person heated gondolas are considered "POMA8 people electric heating cable car seat boxes," and ski areas brag about the ability of their lift network to "greatly shorten from the bottom to the top of the required time, greatly improve in the ice and snow comfort and warm degrees, and improve the experience of the ski comfort level." Take that, Vail!
· Yabuli Ski Resort [Yabuli Ski Resort]
· Xiling Snow Mountain Ski Resort [My China Tours]