With over 2.5 feet of snow covering Israel’s highest mountain, we can now safely say that winter has arrived in this corner of the Middle East.
Straddling Israel, Syria and Lebanon, Mount Hermon’s highest point is located at the border of the latter two and reaches 9,232 feet above sea level. In Israel, it peaks at 7,335 feet, making it the sole destination for the most unlikely of local passions – skiing.
The Hermon ski site opened back in 1971, when skiing was the domain of a very select, experienced few. Over the years, more and more Israelis became enamored with the sport, and the 600-acre site now hosts some 300,000 visitors each winter.
Ski season in Israel can last up to 50 days a year, although some dry winters mean that the sport can be enjoyed for far fewer days.
For skiing in the Hermon to commence, two conditions have to be met: the area must be blizzard-free, and the snow surrounding the lower cable car station has to be at least 1.6 feet high. As of Thursday, it stood at 1.8 feet, while the upper station saw 2.6 feet of snow.
When in business, the site offers enthusiasts 13 ski runs, as well as more temperate activities such as cable cars, chair lifts and sledding.
In warmer months, the snow-averse can join the 40,000 people who take advantage of the Hermon’s beautiful landscapes to hike and bike.