/8 Places to Ski or Snowboard Without Snow

8 Places to Ski or Snowboard Without Snow

Skiing or snowboarding doesn’t always have to come with the risk of frostbite. There are some locations where you can brave the slopes before swiftly returning to a tropical (or at least an above average) climate.

You see, you don’t always need snow to go skiing or snowboarding – you can do it on sandy and stony slopes just as well. Here are a few places to try it.

1. Namibia

When it comes to a ski trip, destinations like Austria or the Alps tend to come to mind, not Namibia.

In the Namib desert there are some of the largest sand dunes in the world, and with the dunes come amazing runs for you to board or ski down. It may not be cool and frosty but temperatures don’t get as high as you might think, and the ocean winds mean the landscape for skiing changes each week. You can hire equipment and guidance to ski the dunes from June through to November.

Tourist walking on the scenic dunes of Sossusvlei, Namib desert, Namib Naukluft National Park, Namibia. Afternoon light. Adventure and exploration in Africa.

2. Iran

Swap the thermals for shorts and woolly hats for caps in Iran. Austrian extreme skier Fabian Lentsch and his friends popularised the location by skiing down some practically vertical dune drops in the desert of Qeshm Island.

While I wouldn’t recommend replicating their crazy stunts on such steep and sandy slopes, sand skiing would definitely be an awesome thing to do in an interesting country like Iran.

3. India

Sylvian Saudan is the original pro when it comes to extreme skiing. He once said that ‘skiers that can ski the stones can ski any type of snow’. In the town of Manali in India you can put that to the test by skiing over the area’s rugged terrain.

This new ski style sees you attached to a yak. Once you’re all fastened in you shake a bucket of nuts to encourage the yak to race towards the food. As it goes, so do you. It’s a risky sport and definitely not for the fainthearted.

4. Dubai

Skis, sticks and sun cream – that’s what you need for a ski trip to Dubai’s sand dunes. Here you can indulge in both boarding and skiing with a trip to the desert sands just outside of the city. Companies like Dubai Dune Bashing transport you to the Arabian dunes where instead of returning a little frosty you’ll pick up a tan.

If the experience leaves you pining for the more familiar freshness of a cool winter slope then head to the Mall of America afterwards. This indoor ski park has 5 runs and the world’s first indoor black piste.

5. Washington, USA

We’re talking about one specific place here and that’s Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Washington state, USA. In the winter, the mountains above the forest are covered in snow but as the weather heats up in the spring the snow begins to melt and trickle down into the forest. This forms a slippery surface that locals say is ideal for cross-country skiing. Don’t go hurtling through the dense trees at speed – danger – instead, just glide along beside them.

6. Nicaragua

Forget snow, sand or slush – how about riding your board on volcanic ash? From the top of Nicaragua’s Cerro Negro – aka the country’s youngest volcano – you can glide down on a snowboard.

There’s a bit of a hike to get to the top, but the views up there are worth it. Boarding back down can be fun although there is a knack to it and, be warned, ash doesn’t have the softness of snow, so falling over can get a little gritt

Volcano Boarding down Cerro Negro – 18 August 2015

7. Morocco

You may have been thinking of camel rides and desert lunches if you were planning a trip to the Sahara, but you can actually make your desert getaway an extreme sports adventure. TheMerzouga Sand Dunes offer some pretty cool runs for those who love speed, slopes and sand in their pants.

Erg Chigaga Caravan in Sahara Desert

8. Calgary

With climate change having a major effect on the amount of snow in the ranges, Calgary native Kael Hill decided to make a political point. To highlight that we need to protect our environment he filmed himself snowboarding through Calgary. He rode down railings and negotiated concrete blocks on his snowboard, showing that Calgary could be a good place to board, but it’s just not the same as the pow-pow.