BEIRUT: This week’s storm left a spot of good news, as meters of snowfall allowed the country’s lower-altitude ski resorts to finally open for the season.
“All of them will open in the coming days. It’s packed powder, good for snowboarders,” said Ronald Sayegh, founder of SKILEB.com. “We only have this about twice a season.”
The great news for winter sports enthusiasts comes on the heels of a nationwide storm that resulted in at least five deaths, blackouts and destruction to farms and infrastructure from flooding and heavy snowfall. Resorts that opened their season in December closed this week as the storm’s heavy snowfall buried chair lifts and created dangerous road conditions.
The resorts in the Mzaar region will open trails gradually tomorrow, while upward of 3 meters of snow in the Chouf leaves the Cedars resort’s reopening ambiguous.
Laqlouq ski resort, located in the mountains of Jbeil, will open its 2013 ski season this weekend, Sayegh said. The resort staff has begun to groom Laqlouq’s trails, which received approximately 1.7 meters of snow.
Faqra ski resort will also open its season Saturday, said a receptionist at the Faqra Club. A portion of the resort’s trails will be combed and prepared for Saturday, and the rest will be open in a few days, the receptionist said.
The start of the winter saw very limited snowfall, Sayegh said.
But this week’s storm changed that by dumping about 1.8 meters of snow over the Faqra and Mzaar ski areas. Sayegh’s pictures of the road to Mzaar, directly above Faraya, showed plowed roads still coated with untainted white powder in the absence of traffic.
Mzaar resort restarted its chairlifts Friday after the storm shut down its already opened ski season for several days. The resort will open some of its trails Saturday, and clear the rest throughout the day.
Weather forecasts predicted temperatures around minus 4 degrees Celsius in Mzaar Saturday afternoon and around minus 2 degrees Celsius in Laqlouq, with winds around 5 kilometers per hour, according to the National News Agency.
Sayegh expected locals would be out on the slopes this weekend, but warned that road conditions into the mountains require four-wheel drive or snow chains.
The Chouf’s Cedars resort also shut down this week for the storm. The resort’s location, above the town of Bsharreh, received upward of 3 meters of snowfall, making the clean-up a longer process.
Staff at L’Auberge Des Cedres, one of the main resort hotels, said they received a midday phone call Friday saying skiing would remain closed through Saturday. They also warned driving conditions remained unsafe Friday.
Some Cedars resort hotels had around 25 to 30 percent occupancy through the storm, said Khalil Bousarra of Le Cedrus Hotel, and guests are restless to get back to freshly coated slopes. Bousarra said he hoped skiing opens as soon as possible: “There will be very nice skiing conditions this weekend.”