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An Ideal Ski Resort in Yabuli

The Qingyun Ski Resort in Yabuli is located on the northern slopes of Great Guokui Mountain, in Shangzhi City in the south of Heilongjiang Province. As the mountains here are mostly over 1,400 metres above sea level, and lie at a northern latitude, they are covered with snow for six months out of the year. In addition, the depth snow cover is usually several metres thick and the quality of the snow is ideal for skiing, therefore in 1980 a ski resort was set up here. At first three downhill trails and three cross-country trails were opened to the public, and later a 2,500-metre chair-lift was installed.

It begins to snow on Great Guokui Mountain in September of every year. As the snow deepens, increasing numbers of ski teams arrive for their training. When winter is at its most severe, Yabuli is bustling with activity. The chair-lift is packed with professional athletes, all wearing ski-helmets and colourful outfits. The chair-lift is kept constantly running, bringing the athletes to the top in just 10 minutes.

The hotels here can accommodate more than 3,000 athletes and nearly 1,000 other visitors. Facilities include a modern training gymnasium, a telecommunications and news centre and the so-called Antarctic building. This building is a training base constructed by the Antarctic Exploration Committee of China.

Because the terrain here is covered with ice and snow and the low temperatures of 30-40 below zero similar to conditions in the Antarctic Circle, every winter teams of scientists come here to be trained in field work, open-air camping and cooking, skiing and life-saving techniques. This training is meant to prepare them for the actual conditions of the Antarctic Circle, where they will one day go to work. That is why one often sees them camping on the tops of mountains at the mercy of the mercy of the bitter cold wind, where they pass the long nights sleeping in down quilts on the bare snow.

In recent years Qingyun has developed tourism beyond its skiing services. The resort has attracted tens of thousands of tourists from the United States, Japan, Canada, Hong Kong, Great Britain, Macau, Holland and Switzerland, with the greatest number of visitors from Hong Kong.

Every year during Spring Festival--from the first to the 15th day of the first lunar month--the resort is at its busiest, with many tourists from Hong Kong coming to learn how to ski or to go sledding. Some people come to the top of the hill by chair-lift but dare not ski down. Instead they stroll the snowy ground and enjoy the sights of the snow-clad primitive forest. Others prefer to tour the area in horse-drawn sleighs.

The forests of Yabuli are teeming with wild animals such as boar, roe beer, rabbits, pheasants and squirrels, therefore hunting facilities are also available. Visitors able to brave the deep snow and difficult treks can spend an exciting day in the great outdoors, and can usually bag at least one or two animals. Or, for those who do not wish to kill game but merely practise their shooting, Yabuli has also opened a shooting range with a wide variety of guns and targets to choose from.

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