Yabuli Ski Resort is, hands down, China's biggest and best. There is more than one ski resort in China that claims this distinction, but if one checks out what's on offer, one will quickly realize that Yabuli Ski Resort is in a class by itself among Chinese ski resorts. The very fact that Yabuli Ski Resort serves as the primary training venue for China's national teams (Alpine, Nordic (aka Cross-Country) and Freestyle teams) should give an idea of the quality of the slopes at Yabuli Ski Resort (the 1996 Asian Winter Games, the third such event in the series, was held at Yabuli Ski Resort).
The ski resort, built on Yabuli Sun Mountain, part of the Changbai Mountain Range, is located in China's northernmost province, Heilongjiang, about 180 kilometers southeast of the province's capital city, Harbin.
The northerly location of this ski resort ensures – at least under current climatic conditions, though once the planet's unfolding climatic changes have run their course, that may change – that any snowfall tends to remain until late spring/ early summer (the temperature hovers near minus 10 degrees Celsius during the winter, but can dip down as low as a chilly minus 45 degrees!). And there is indeed ample snowfall in the region, with an average of 100 centimeters of snow annually near the top of the mountain, about half that amount midway down the mountain, and around 20 centimeters annually in the valley below. Read Mia's Yabuli travel story.
However, should mother nature fail to do her part at any given time, the resort has recourse to a fleet of 8 snow-making machines. In addition, Yabuli Ski Resort has 6 snow-grooming machines that ensure an optimal powder consistency on the surface of the various pistes at all times, another factor that puts this particular ski resort in a class by itself. The skiing season at Yabuli Ski Resort begins in mid-November and runs until the end of March.
Yabuli Ski Resort has 9 intermediate- to advanced-level Alpine pistes, a 5-kilometer Nordic trail and a 500-meter gentle Alpine slope for beginners. The resort's prime advanced-level Alpine piste measures some 3 kilometers (3000 plus meters) with a vertical drop of an impressive 805 meters, which makes this the longest – and most exhilarating – Alpine ski piste in all of Asia (it should be noted that the ski resort is divided into a competition and a leisure section, the former being restricted to domestic and foreign professional (i.e., national-team) skiers). The ski resort employs more than a half-hundred ski instructors, and though not all of the ski instructors are fluent in English, they are all reputed to be knowledgeable, and very thorough in their tutoring.
The resort has 9 ski lifts, more than enough to ferry skiers to their various destinations without having to wait in long queues. Visitors say that the old adage about 'getting there being half the fun' has never been more true than in the case of the trip up Yabuli Sun Mountain in one of Yabuli Ski Resort's ski lifts: the views are spectacular as the visitor ascends alongside ridges and ravines, looking out over a forest of snow-clad trees.
Yabuli Ski Resort is a hyper-modern facility with all that the visitor can desire in the way of bars, restaurants and lodgings, as well as in the way of ski and other winter-sport rental facilities. Besides catering to skiers, the resort has facilities for snowboarding, ice skating and tobogganing – in fact, Yabuli Toboggan Run is the world's longest. The ski resort incorporates a number of hotels and bed & breakfast establishments (youth hostels) with, in all, over 600 beds. Even cheaper accomodations can be found in the town of Yabuli itself. The ski resort's two 3-star hotels, the Windmill Village and the Tinyihu, have between them some 300 beds. These two hotels offer all the latest conveniences, from indoor swimming pools to fitness rooms and billiard halls to Internet cafés, bars, gift shops, restaurants, play rooms for kids – even a full-sized bowling alley – and the hotel rooms naturally come equipped with cable TV.
In the off-season, i.e., from late spring to autumn, there are a number of other activities on offer at Yabuli Ski Resort such as "grass skiing", tennis, mini-golf, hot-air ballooning and para-gliding, and then there is the stunning nature of Yabuli Sun Mountain itself, as well as that of the greater Changbai Mountain Range, where the stealthy visitor just might be lucky enough to spot bears, deer, leopards, tigers and wild boars, while just about every visitor will run across hares, pheasants, squirrels – and birds, birds, birds – not to speak of the chance, after-dark spotting of a badger.