Our journey starts in the village Byblos/Jubail, an old port on the Mediterranean Sea just north of Beirut. In 2850 b.c. Byblos was a colony of Egypt and an important trading place. Soon we realize that this will not be an ordinary tourist trip but also a journey through the history of a country of which we only know little.
In the 11th century A.D. this area was governed by the Crusaders. The Greeks and Romans also set foot here. We are in the Middle East between Syria and Israel.
First we travel to Cedars Ski Resort Bsharri, a small area. Because this area is far away from the capital and the economy is pretty rare, the people don't live an easy life. Trade with other Arab countries is almost impossible because of the war in Syria. Although we don’t notice much of it.
It is already late, so we take a really old-fashioned chairlift all the way up to the top. The ridges around the ski area are formed in the shape of a horseshoe. By noon the clouds come in from the Mediterranean Sea and the mountain tops are in the fog. There is also an ice-cold wind on the ridge.
Orientation is difficult because at the top of the large plateau all terrains resemble each other. The GPS navigates us through these mountains and so we reach the peak of the highest mountain of Lebanon. When the sky clears up, we see the border of Syria.
We spend the night in a police officers’ house. With his wife and three kids, he lives in a small village on the other side of the cedars mountain ridge, because you are not allowed to be a policeman in your own village. The red wine of the area is very popular, and we have a special evening, enjoying local dishes and hospitality.
Our second stop is Baalbek, where the world's largest Roman temple once stood. Located near the rivers Litani and Orantes, Baalbek is very strategically located and suitable for growing food. The temple has been used several times by different religions.
The following day, we enjoy the most beautiful descent of Lebanon, which is a very special tour for us, all alone through the landscape and the fog. The summer of Mount Sannine (2628m), you can see from Beirut. The descent is called the Grand Couloir: a slope of 35 degrees and with super firn we ski down.
For us Lebanon is a very friendly country with many different cultures, religions and beliefs, that is located between troubled areas. You can’t tour everywhere in Lebanon because of landmines. It is also advisable to avoid certain places. But Lebanon is very good to experience and admire on skis.
Words by | Boris Textor
Boris Textor is a UIAGM certified mountain and ski guide. Originally from the Netherlands, he is now based in Innsbruck and guiding across the Alps. Boris is part of the Rab athlete team. For more info, have a look at https://boristextor.nl.