Our visit to the royal summer palace brought us to the very north of Teheran, so close to the nearby Alborz Mountain Range. So why not check out the skiing area? From the last subway stop at Tajrish Square it is short cab ride to the Tochal Telecabin, which brings you to the fourth highest ski field in the world. The cabins are tiny, but were obviously designed for 6 persons. The ticket up to Station 5 was not cheap, but what the heck. Only skiers were allowed to go even further up.
At first we were disappointed, but once inside we were glad for every minute that passed and we could get out. The cabin was rusty and god knows how old. Painstakingly slow the lift hobbled up the mountain. Sometimes we swayed over deep valleys, sometimes we were so close to the hikers below that you could hear them talk.
At the top was a huge hut (with a prayer room!), which had a faint resemblance of huts in the Austrian Alps. Inside hikers had gathered, eating their meals they had carried, all well equipped. Some even had brought little burners to make tea. The self-service buffet sold outrageously expensive food and we decided to wait. Wrong decision!
Masses of people had gathered for the ride down. When we first joined the line we had no clue what we were in for. Once we made it to the top of the stairs we stared at a room packed with people meandering their way through a system of crowd control fences. We were devastated!
Should we try and walk down the mountain? Having no idea how long that would take we resigned to waiting. Our sour faces stood out in the large crowd of happy people feeding each other with food they had brought along, kidding with friends and children. Eventually we climbed in a tiny cabin again with a young snowboarder.
While queuing, we saw lots of young women skier and snowboarders enjoying the day on the mountain with their male friends. During Khomeini’s time, men and women had to ski on different slopes, which was controlled by Pasterans on skis. An Austrian friend, who lived in Teheran during those days, told us that one day a group of Europeans expats was skiing, including an Austrian lady. When the Pasterans stopped the group and told the women to separate from the men, she – an excellent skier – told them she would if they were able to catch her and off she went. All these restriction are history now…