Indoor Ski Slopes
Gone are the days of careening down a dry ski slope like a maniac, safe in the knowledge that should you come a cropper, it isn’t just a broken leg or two you’d crawl away with but also a nasty rope burn from the very mesh put down to ensure your speedy descent to a warm hospital bed.
In this day and age we can not only buy bread that requires no knife interaction on our part and baked beans that skip the need for a pan and hob, but we can also cheat nature and make snow. The real stuff (almost), like what falls from the skies.
Whereas in the olden days man was expected to slice his own bread, bake his own beans and in the absence of any ready snow, ski on a dry slope, nowadays he can cruise down a sharp incline, with neither care for his nor anybody else’s safety, on real snow. In the middle of summer. In Dubai!
Indoor ski slopes and ski resorts provide all year round access to that most exhilarating of pastimes, meaning that even when it’s touching 50°C outside (in the case of Dubai) you can ski to your heart’s content inside.
The first indoor ski slope opened in 1987 at Mt Thebarton Snow & Ice, giving the good people of Adelaide, Australia, the chance to experience the thrill of hurtling headfirst down the side of a mountain whenever the fancy took them, without having to travel to the Alpine range on the other side of the country. Since then they have sprung up at various locations across the world, including the UK, France, Japan and South Korea.
So what devilry is it that allows humble man to magic snow from the sky regardless of temperature or roof?
Snow cannons were first developed in the 1950s but weren’t adopted as a commercial venture until the 1970s when ski resorts began using them on their ski trails to improve the quality of the runs and prolong the season. They work by forcing water and compressed air through a nozzle, which combined with the optimum ambient temperatures, creates the snow.
As the technology improved (early uses required reservoirs or lakes to provide the necessary water), the next logical step was to bring the snow cannon indoors to artificially created ski slopes, thus providing the avid ski fanatic, the snowboard enthusiast, the amateur and virgin skier the opportunity to polish their technique at the drop of a ski hat. The temperature controlled environment ensuring a perpetual supply of snow.
As far as setting the bar amongst the indoor ski fraternity, the world’s longest slope can be found at the AlpinCenter in Bottrop, Germany, measuring in at an impressive 640m. The UK’s Chill Factore in Manchester boasts the widest indoor ski slope at 100m.
The latest development in man’s love of the impossible is the indoor ski resort. The experience of a holiday freezing one’s ski poles off on the side of a mountain in notoriously snow-shy locations such as the United Arab Emirates.
Ski Dubai was opened in 2005 and is the world’s largest snowdome, boasting five runs of varying difficulty and an area the equivalent of three football fields. The temperature is kept at -1°C to -2°C throughout the day and goes down to -6°C at night when the snow cannons are unleashed and the slopes replenished. Just like a real ski resort there are chairlifts, tow lifts, freestyle areas, restaurants and even indoor “ski chalets” which, keeping with the theme, overlook the piste, offering views of the ski slopes.
So there it is, living proof that necessity is the mother of invention. Man’s driving compulsion to stare into the abyss and take one step forward, even when there’s no snow at hand, has not only created the indoor ski slope, complete with indoor ski snow, but banished ski-related rope burns to the dustbin of history.
Mountain Heaven Ltd. provide apartments in La Plagne and ski chalets in France and Switzerland for those who prefer the real thing.