select - Snow Adventures
Written by Oryx
With winter gripping the northern hemisphere, there are myriad opportunities to experience the big freeze, whether you’re after adventure or relaxation. Here are four very different ways to have fun in the snow and ice.
Ice Hotel, Kiruna, Sweden
If you’re looking for a unique winter retreat, head to the village of Jukkasjärvi in Swedish Lapland, home to an ice hotel since 1990, though not permanently: it is created in December from ice blocks carved from the river, and melts away in April. The Ice Hotel features walls, roofs, and even furniture such as chairs and beds made from beautiful translucent blue ice. The architecture differs from year to year, with various artists called upon to create not only the major spaces and rooms, but the numerous decorative sculptures throughout.
Distance: 4,585 km
Flight Time: 6 hours, 50 minutes
Ice climbing, Chamonix, France
If skiing seems a little tame, up your level of winter adrenaline with ice climbing in the alpine resort of Chamonix near Geneva in the French Alps, one of the world’s top centres for the sport. Even beginners can get in on the action with ice-climbing courses that introduce you to the use of crampons and ice axes. Over 200 waterfalls freeze over in winter in the valley around Chamonix; experts can head to greater challenges in the nearby Trient and Cogne Valleys.
Distance: 4,488 km
Flight Time: 8 hours, 55 minutes
Frequency: 3 flights a week via Milan
Hot springs, Izu Peninsula, Japan
The 2,300-odd onsen or hot springs that bubble up across Japan have been a source of inspiration and relaxation for the Japanese over centuries. Those on the Izu Peninsula are within easy reach of Tokyo, making them a favoured winter getaway. At Itoh, you can sit in hillside hot springs and soak up fine views along with mineral salts. Further on at Shimoda, more onsen are coupled with fine old temples. At the top end of the peninsula you end up in Hakone, with dozens of onsen dotted around town; some are very old and housed in traditional Japanese inns.
Distance: 8,279 km
Flight Time: 9 hours, 30 minutes
Olympic sports, Lake Placid, USA
With the Winter Olympics almost upon us, head to former Olympic host Lake Placid and attempt some of the sports you normally only see on television. At the Mt Van Hoevenberg’s Olympic Sports Complex, visitors can be instructed in the biathlon, which combines cross-country skiing with rifle shooting. You can also try bobsledding in the company of a professional driver and brakeman: a wild winter ride that might leave you both shaken and stirred.
New York, USA
Distance: 10,792 km
Flight Time: 14 hours, 10 minutes