Skiing at Yabuli

Trip Start Jan 02, 2013
Trip End Mar 17, 2013

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Flag of China  , Heilongjiang Sheng,
Wednesday, January 30, 2013

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The person from the hotel who's assigned to assist me met in the morning. We had some confusion initially. I thought there would be a ski room and assumed that that would be where I should put on my boots. Eventually, with the help of someone who could assist with translating, I was shown the lockers. I changed into my boots and we headed down the mountain to rent equipment.

My first shock was the cost of rental equipment It was going to cost me 500 yuan ($83) a day to rent skis and poles. There is no multi-day discount. (In fact, there's no multi-day rental and I have to come back down to turn in my equipment every day and come back down to rent it again the next morning.)  That's roughly double what I paid in Japan and I thought that was outrageous. It was even more surprising when I found out I wouldn't be getting premium equipment for the premium price. The only skis available are Atomic ETL skis. The ETL stands for Easy To Learn. They're skis for beginners, which is why the longest skis I could get were 159 cm. The skis I left at home are 177cm and I think I made a mistake getting skis that short when I bought them. I've since checked online and found I could buy a pair for $249.99 so if I rent them for three days I will have paid for them.  And the skis were far from new.  The base had more scratches than my skis did at the end of last season after skiing over 1,000,000 vertical feet.

I needed to have the skis adjusted fro my boots. I was shocked at how poor a job they did. I wasn't asked about my weight or ability level and they didn't seem to take a great deal of care in what they were doing. Nobody is concerned about liability issues like in the U.S.  When I asked for poles I was handed ones that were at least six inches too long. They were the shortest poles they had.

I headed out and went up the gondola. When I got to the top I tried to put them on. I'm not sure what the problem was but I couldn't get my boot to stay in the bindings on one of the skis. I got back on the gondola for the 15-minute ride down. When I got back to the rental shop someone did something to the binding and it started working. Unfortunately, there was nobody to translate what he had done so if it were to happen again I'd have to waste another half-hour returning to the rental shop.

I headed back up the hill, put on my skis and took a run. There are a number of expert trails near the gondola. One was in the process of being groomed , which is something that would typically be done at night, and was closed. The two next to that were ungroomed slopes. I'm not into moguls so I skipped them. The next one is a groomed expert run. I decided to give it a try.  It wasn't too bad of a slope but it wasn't groomed well enough to be a good cruising run.

There were no lift lines. The snow conditions were a bit crusty. The lift lines were almost nonexistent and the trails were relatively empty.  Below the mid-station the gondola went over fairly flat terrain so you didn't get very far up the hill for the time spent on the lift but the portion above the mid-station was better although I've gotten spoiled by the amount of vertical I can ski in a day at Keystone. 

I skied over to their 6-person chair lift, the only other lift besides the gondola.  It wasn't operating.  I have no idea what the problem was.  I periodically checked it throughout the day and it never was running.  They completed grooming the trail near the gondola but it remained closed all day.  Between lifts not running and closed trails I was limited to two trails.  They weren't the greatest trails but I wound up skiing over 7,000 vertical meters on the two of them.

On my second or third run one of my bindings released prematurely.  It happened again a couple of runs later and then a second time further down the trail.  After examining the bindings more carefully I realized that they had not properly adjusted the height of the toe piece and my boot was not always fitting under it.  After that I was very careful to make sure my boot was underneath the binding and I had no more premature releases.

I skied until shortly after 3:00.  I had to return my equipment and get on the lift before 4:00 or I wouldn't be able to get to my room.

China is the 19th country I've skied in.  While I could ski at better mountains or at places that offer more for the money than the places I've gone in many of these countries I have always found it to be an interesting experience.
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