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History of Skiing in Lebanon

History of skiing in Lebanon (single-seater chairlift at the Cedars)The ski slopes of Lebanon are not at all like they used to be. Imagine back in the 1930s, when skiing was first popularised in Lebanon. There were no lifts, so skiers had to hike to the tops of their slopes, a real investment of both time and effort! According to an early president of the local ski federation, "We rented wooden skis, old fashioned leather boots with simple bindings and walked up the slope. To keep from slipping, we put fox skins under our skis." There must have been a real sense of having earned each of the two or three runs that were normally possible in a day.

Although the young engineering student who pioneered the sport in Lebanon brought it with him from Switzerland, it was the French army that really lifted skiing into the public eye. To train soldiers in mountain patrol techniques, the French set up a ski school near the Cedars in the northern part of the country.

It wasn’t until the early 1950s, though, that the first ski lift in Lebanon was built – a small one that only functioned for one month out of 12. After a couple of years, the government footed the bill for a second much larger lift in the Cedars.

History of skiingEver since, the ski federation has looked after the organisation of international competitions. Lebanese ski experts have also travelled abroad as contestants in international and regional competitions.

The Cedars is still a special place for skiers. The natural amphitheatre created by the surrounding mountains means the runs are visible from top to bottom. Today there are also other resorts that established themselves starting in 1958 after the construction of chalets and more lifts in Faraya Ouyoune El-Simane, Laqlouq and Zaarour.
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