Shemshak is located in Iran, around 100km from the Iranian capital of Tehran. Shemshak is located in the Alborz mountain range which is the enormous mountain range lying to the north of Tehran and is one of the 4 ski resorts in the mountain range.
It is located around 10 minutes from the ski area of Darbandsar and around 35 minutes down the road from Dizin.
Being in Iran, Shemshak, Darbandsar and Dizin are usually overlooked as a place to go skiing or snowboarding - but the mountains are very, very high here, often higher than in Europe and North America, and the experience of skiing in Iran is truly a memorable one.
The scenery at Shemshak is absolutely beautiful and is worth visiting for a day-trip from Tehran even if you don't enjoy skiing or snowboarding!
For information on doing a season in Iran, see the Guide to Skiing and Snowboarding in Iran which has all the proper information on visas and travel in Iran.
Photo: Shemshak resort in the Alborz Mountain Range
Shemshak is a relatively small resort with two chairlifts and two tow-bars wedged in between the chairlifts. The chairlifts are both double-chairs and quite slow, which means the lift lines can be a bit of a wait, especially on weekends (Iranian weekends are Thursday and Friday). The crowds aren't too bad though up the hill given the slow rate of riders being taken up the mountain.
Compared to Darbandsar, it is a little steeper and a little bigger, but with less off-piste. Shemshak is much smaller than Dizin which is the largest resort but has more in the way of advanced terrain than Dizin.
However, the lift ride up the mountain is long and the run from top to bottom is a very decent length. The on-piste runs to the bottom are intermediate runs, while the off-piste options back down are advanced runs. Iranians mostly stay on-piste so the off-piste runs are yours to carve.
The snow is also quite good as the resort is so high and the snow conditions are retained fairly well. It doesn't necessarily bucket down, but the snow holds well after a fall. There is grooming daily on the mountain.
There is also a bit of hiking terrain at Shemshak outside the boundary of the resort. Make sure to take all avalanche precautions and ask for local advice on conditions. If you go hiking, there is some great terrain available which make your runs to the bottom very long.
Photo: The terrain at Shemshak - view from middle of the run looking at the main chairlift
A ticket for the day at Shemshak costs 600,000 Rial (USD 17). You can hire gear for the day for around 1 million Rial (USD 30). The last lift closes around 3.30pm.
The ski gear you can hire is surprisingly good.
Shemshak is located along the Fasham Road along the way to the biggest resort in Iran - Dizin. It takes around 1.5 hours to get there from Tajrish Metro Station in Tehran, and longer from places further south in Tehran.
The best way for tourists to get to Shemshak is by taxi. You will need to haggle with a taxi driver in Tehran to see if they will take you up. Most taxi drivers will be ok with you putting your gear in the taxi if they agree to take you up.
Tajrish Metro Station is the northernmost metro station in the city. From there, you could find a taxi for around 700,000 Rial (USD 20). You can sometimes find van taxis at Tajrish which is very handy if you have a group of four or more, or you have gear you want to take up. You should expect to pay around 1.2 million Rials (USD 35) for a van up to Shemshak.
At the end of the day, you will just have to speak with someone (perhaps the person where you hired ski gear) and they will magically call a taxi for you to take you back down. There is no taxi rank at Shemshak and you will need to rely on Iranian hospitality to call you a taxi to get you back down!
Watch out for Tehran's traffic! It can be brutal and can significantly extend the time it takes to get up and down the mountain. It is a very good idea to leave early in the morning to beat some of traffic.
Photo: The terrain at Shemshak ski area, Iran
Shemshak lends itself to day trips quite well as it is only 1.5 hours from Tehran (although that can be longer getting back given the traffic in Tehran). You can find plenty of cheaper hostels and hotels in Tehran.
If you are staying up on the mountain, it is a good idea to stay at Dizin resort, which is about 35 minutes away. Dizin has large hotels that will almost always have space, plus it is a much livelier town than Shemshak. Shemshak does have a few hotels, but it is quite a small little town.
The on-mountain accommodation at both Dizin and Shemshak is really, really cheap. The rooms will have a private bathroom and 2 singles or a double costing about USD 50 a night. There are also several privately-owned cottages around that can be rented out in both Dizin and Shemshak. Prices for these vary on the quality of the cottage.
You could also find quite a nice chalet at Dizin or Shemshak if you have a larger group. This is a pretty sweet way to stay up at the Iranian mountains.
Photo: Bottom of the chairlift at Shemshak
See the Guide to Skiing and Snowboarding in Iran for information on visas.
Most jobs at Shemshak go to locals. The lift operators are usually old guys who live in the area and take this as their winter jobs. In any case, you would need to hold an Iranian passport and speak Farsi to work at Shemshak which is a much more local resort than Dizin.
Because of the cheap prices, it is much easier to simply come to Iran and just go riding every day until your money runs out!
Photo: Looking over the Alborz Mountains at Shemshak