Wanlong Ski Resort is China's largest ski mountain and a good example of the new breed of destination resorts. Located less than a 4 hour drive from Beijing, it sees over 1000 skiers each weekend nd claims to have reached peak crowds of 3000. At 6000'+ elevation, it also enjoys one of China's longest seasons. A 100 room 3 star hotel located on site offers room to lift skiing and a assortment of amenities that you would expect in a slope side hotel.
Wanlong has 5 chairs: one double chair that goes to mid mountain with one main trail back down and a terrain park side trail. This wide beginning/intermediate slope is the primary teaching area and is excellent learning terrain. A man made mogul field on top adds some interest for advanced Skiers and a set of racing gates on the side is open to anyone at any time there is not an actual race being run. (Chinese skiers like to go fast. You can almost think there are only two types of Chinese Skiers – beginning snow plowers and GS racers.) The top of this lift connects with a brand new quad chair to the top of the mountain (2210M). Another older double chair operates parallel to it so that uphill capacity is not a constraint during busy periods. Chairs 4 and 5 serve expansion areas as the ski area grows to the west taking in a new valley and ridge area.
Top of the Mountain Cabin at Wanlong
On top is a warm up/refreshment log cabin. Inside you can get a hot drink, snacks including dumplings or just sit by the fireplace and relax. Since most of the skiers stay on the bottom half of the mountain, it is not heavily used, but still well staffed for good service. The view from the top is panoramic of the entire area.
Wanlong Off the Top
There are 7 distinct trails off the top that branch out into 11 other main trails including six new more advanced trails opened this year. The Eastern most is a skate for the first 650 M, then either a nice wide intermediate cruising trail from there or a branch to the right leading to intermediate trails that end up back at the ShuangLong hotel and connect through the beginners area to return to the base lodge. Westward from the top is a trail along the ridge line that leads to the rest of the trails down one of two ridges or two valleys with varying degrees of challenge from
West Ridge Trail at Wanlong
On the westernmost side of the mountain is the newest set of trails including some steep pitches from the ridge to the valley. In the middle of these are long mostly intermediate wide cruising trails that either branch back to the mid mountain lift or continues along the western ridges all the way to the bottom. The pitch on the final portion of some of these trails are the steepest on the mountain and could be quite nice if there was enough snow to build a mogul field. However, early in the season it is groomed flat and skied fast by most of the skiers who take this route. Getting back to the bas lodge from the center and eastern half of the mountain is direct and easy. However, getting back to the base lodge from the western sections serviced by lifts 4 and 5 takes a little planning to avoid a lengthy uphill walk at the end or another ride up one of these lifts. Overall, there are enough lift and trail combinations to ski the better portion of a couple of days without using the same route twice.
Magic Carpet on Beginners Slope
For beginners there is a separate slope leading from the hotel to the base lodge. In 2008 the lift servicing this slope was been replaced by a magic carpet (a belt conveyor you just stand on as it conveys you to the top.)
Shuanglong Hotel at Wanlong
GettingGetting to Wanlong is a 4 hour trip by car or bus. The area's web site lists commercial transportation options including a van they run themselves if you have a minimum of 3 people signed up. Not a problem on weekends, but if you have less than 3 people on a weekday, it might not be available. Cost for the resort's van was 160 RMB/person round trip last year. You could also rent the van for 1-10 people for 500RMB each way. The public bus to ChongLi is cheaper at 60 RMB, but will take you most of a day from Beijing to Wanlong with no time left to ski. When you arrive in Chongli, a car can be hired for 50 RMB to take you to the resort. Alternatively, a night train leaving Beijing at 2:30 AM gets you to Zhangjiakou about 6 AM and a 180-200 RMB cab ride takes you to the slopes in time to catch the first lift when it opens. You can also try to hire a Beijing car and driver. This might cost as much as 800 RMB each way. On weekends, starting last year, the businesses in ChongLi started offering buses that leave from Third ring road and Badaling Highway intersection in Beijing on Friday night and return on Sunday night. However, unless you are comfortable traveling on your own in China it is best to know someone with a car or join a group.
Renting it all at Wanlong
Costs at Wanlong during the 2009-2010 season are up with a regular season Lift ticket - RMB400/8 hours, Rentals (Solomon skis and boots) RMB260/day, ski suit - RMB30/day and a locker is RMB10/day. Chinese New Year is quite higher while multiday tickets knock about 20% off the single day prices. Note that a 500RMB cash deposit is required to rent the equipment. The hotel rates were 718RMB/night weekdays and 958RMB/night on weekends for a basic room and up to 2288RMB/night for multi person suites.
Breakfast Western and Chinese Buffet at Shuanglong Hotel
Choices for food are limited to the hotel and ski area base lodge. A good combination Western and Chinese breakfast is included in the room rate. Lunch is at the ski lodge for 40 - 80 RMB per person and dinner is in the hotel dining room at 100 - 180 RMB per person (unless you go for the expensive premium dishes). The quality of the hotel food is quite good and the ski area food has improved significantly including new pizza and bakery sections.