Bei Da Hu 北大湖 is one of China’s best ski resorts and THE best (in my humble opinion) in the north east of China. So when the ski season officially kicked off a couple of weeks ago it was the place to be. For three days of glorious skiing!!!
Back Ground on Bei Da Hu
Location – 56 kilometres south east of Jilin City in Jilin Province
Ski Season – November to April
Trails – At least 11 trails with a vertical drop of 850 meters
Open Times – 8:30am to 4pm
Claim to Fame – Hosted the 2007 Asian Winter Games
Clothing – The temperature on the slopes of Beidahu can go as low as -20 to -30C and wind chill can be extreme. So to make sure you are warm enough to enjoy skiing and be safe, you need very good clothing. I used woollen socks, top quality ski pants, thick inner pants, a thick down ski jacket, a woollen hat and leather gloves for skiing at around -10C at -20C.
Insurance – If you are injured while skiing (very likely) the hospital bills can be very high so make sure your travel insurance covers skiing.
Entertainment – Even if you stay are the resort, there is not much to do at night so bring plenty of entertainment.
Met my friend Lan at the Changchun train in the evening and caught a train from Changchun to Jilin a couple of hours later. The train tip only took 40 minutes and cost around 30rmb. Lan is a local Chinese skiing fanatic so he had everything organized and there was a private (illegal) taxi waiting for us at the Jilin train station. The trip from Jilin City to the base of the Beidahu ski resort took around 2 hours in poor conditions at night and cost 150rmb.
To minimise costs and for a novel experience, Lan arranged for us to stay at a local family home around 5 kilometers away from the entrance of Beidahu. A lot of locals build houses with 4-5 bedrooms that they rent out in winter and they are great to stay at.
Day One – Hitting the Slopes
After a breakfast of muesli and a ride in another illegal taxi, it was time to hire skies and get a lift pass. Skis, boots and sticks cost 100rmb a day and the lift ticket was also 100rmb a day. The slopes started to get busy around 10am and the gondola to the top trails started at around 10:30am. By the afternoon some of the top trails had opened but the snow cover was light and there was a LOT of rocks so most of the trails were not worth skiing.
Snow Boarding Vs Sking – I’m an intermediate skier and on the advanced runs I make up for the lack of skill with excessive enthusiasm (stupidity). This is fine in normal conditions but if you are with advanced snow boarders on virgin snow, you’ll get left behind.
The Evening – There are a few places to eat in the resort but the food is horrible and over priced. You are better of going to one of the local restaurants a few kilometres out of the resort for a decent meal. We had a great dinner at a local restaurant run by the same family that owned the home we were staying in. Cost around 30-40rmb a person for a filling and enjoyable meal. The floors in these homes is heated so we left our wet ski gear spread across the floor and everything was dry in the morning.
Same as day one until after lunch when a combined group of experienced boarders and skiers I was with decided to tackle one of the runs that just opened up. It was a tough run with exposed rocks and the slope was soon covered in casualties. Near the end of the run Lan’s board hit an exposed branch and he carted wheeled for a few meters before landing on his face. During the fall the buckle on his board hit and injured his arm.
Injury – It was a severe gash with muscle and bone visible so the resort doctor put a bandaid on it (not joking) and one of Lan’s friends drove us to nearby small city to find a hospital. End result was no bone damage, 4 stitches internally, 6 externally and instructions from the doctor not to do any exercise for at least 10 days.
Day Three – Skiing Solo
Left Lan in the resort rest center exchanging war stories with the other walking wounded and skied until 2pm. We caught a 2:30pm public bus from Beidahu to Jilin City which cost 10rmb and took a bit less than 2 hours. The train station was a quick walk from the bus stop and we were on a train back home within 30 minutes.
The weather was excellent for the three days with sunshine and very comfortable skiing conditions. The snow quality on the middle and upper trails was bad but there was still plenty of good skiing so it was two and a half days of pleasure on the slopes.
Plane – You can fly to the Changchun Longjia International airport and then catch a taxi for 400rmb or more to Beidahu which will take at least two and a half hours. Not recommended.
Train – Catch one of the fast (D or G) trains from Beijing to Jilin which will take around 8 hours and cost a bit less than 300rmb. From Jilin catch a legitimate or illegal taxi to Beidahu or a nearby hotel for 150-200rmb which will take up to two hours.
In the Resort – There are at least three hotels to stay at and the room rates for the cheapest ranges from around 500rmb to 1700rmb for very basic rooms. Meals are not included, are very expensive and poor in quality.
Nearby in Private Homes – Each home will have 2 to 4 rooms with bed space for around 3 people in each room. The cost is 100rmb for a room.
Ski Hire and Lift Passes
Lift Tickets – 280rmb during the week and 380rmb on the weekend
Lift Tickets & Ski Hire – 480rmb during the week and 580rmb on the weekend
Prices are a LOT higher on public holidays and the slopes are crowded so best not to ski then.