Every year in January and February, I go, or rather, I went, to Krasnaya Polyana in Sochi. This year I decided to diversify my snowboarding life a little and go from January 17 to 23 to the Murmansk region – there is a ski complex “Bolshoy Woodyavr” in the city of Kirovsk.
Big Woodyavr – South slope on the left, North slope on the right
Actually, I and my sword
Why Kirovsk? I’ve heard about this place for a long time, watched videos on YouTube from satisfied skiers and snowboarders who praised it. I really liked the nature and landscapes of the north, so I decided to try this direction. In addition, the city is located, relative to Moscow, not so far away – about 2 hours by plane, and you are here 🙂
Arrival in Kirovsk
We booked the tickets in December. The S7 Airlines round-trip flight from Moscow to Kirovsk cost 7,000 rubles. Just in case, we took return tickets so as not to lose money if something was closed due to coronavirus tantrums of our officials.
The apartment was booked through Airbnb, for six days it turned out to be 16,000 rubles. Considering that holidays at Rosa Khutor in Sochi have significantly increased in price (by an average of 150%) due to the hype associated with the closure of borders and ski resorts in Europe, we really saved quite a lot.
On January 17, we arrived at the airport, went through registration procedures and now we are getting into our small brand new 72-seat bomber. I have previously flown a similar flight from Kaluga to St. Petersburg and I liked it.
S7 Airline Embraer aircraft
Embraer S7 Airlines
landed at Khibiny Airport 2 hours later. To be honest, even now I don’t quite understand how to call it correctly – Khibiny, Apatity, Kirovsk 🙂 All three names are the same.
Upon arrival at the runway, we were met by a boring security guard. He noticed that I was photographing the plane and the airport, and asked me to stop this mess, explaining that the airport is a secret closed facility.
Embraer S7 Airlines plane in Khibiny
Khibiny Airport, which is forbidden to rent
In my opinion, this is nonsense, and only in Russia they deal with such nonsense with secrets and prohibitions on the territory of airports. Apparently they are afraid that using photos it will be possible to make exactly the same beauty somewhere in Singapore… They don’t know what to ban already! In general, his warning did not affect me, I took a picture of what I wanted 🙂
The airport is small – it has only one room with a baggage belt. The usual uncomfortable airport comes from the nineties.
Khibiny Airport inside, baggage claim
After receiving our luggage, we headed to the car that had been pre-ordered from the landlady of the apartment we rented. The trip cost 800 rubles. one way. Taxi drivers usually ask for about 1000 rubles. Since the airport is small, there were no clusters of taxi cars, by analogy with Adler, offering a ride to the ski resort.
Khibiny Airport is on the street
The distance from the airport to our place of residence, in the ski lift area, was about 35 km, and took about half an hour.
Accommodation and meals
Architecture in Kirovsk is a legacy of the USSR. The usual five-storey buildings that can be found in any Russian city.
View of Kirovsk from the apartment window
Kirovsk is surrounded by such mountains-hills
This cute cozy entrance is ours 🙂
I liked the apartment, for such money, in principle, to demand something more is super–arrogance. Clean, spacious, and a 5-minute walk from the ski lifts. The only drawback is that the hot water smells of something strange, perhaps hydrogen sulfide. But this is the case all over the city.
This is not the first time I have encountered such problems in Russia. For example, in Ryazan, in residential buildings in the city center, the water smells like fish – it’s really unpleasant, and brushing your teeth with such water and washing your face is disgusting. In Kirovsk, cold water is good, but hot water smells, and it also somehow does not wash off like that, it is not oily, but it still does not wash off like ordinary water. This was noticed not only by us, but also by our friends who lived in a sanatorium nearby.
It is a pity that in such a huge and seemingly rich country, in which the president has a palace for 100 billion rubles, we are forced to use frankly poor-quality water, not to mention drinking it. It’s no secret that most Russians drink bottled water, but in my opinion, it’s terrible. When I lived in France, you could safely drink tap water there and there were no problems. So much for decaying Europe.
The hostess turned out to be a surprisingly sweet and pleasant woman, offered us the services of a cook – we, of course, agreed. The next day, she brought us a pot of delicious soup and two types of dumplings – beef and venison. To be honest, I haven’t tried venison before, and I didn’t like it :-), and the homemade beef dumplings were wonderful.
A walk through Kirovsk
After the luggage was laid out, we decided to have dinner first and then take a walk.
Near our house there was this cafe “Boho” with a very unusual design solution for the facade. It’s delicious inside, the waiters are cool and friendly, and the food is delicious. The price tag is too big for Kirovsk.
Cafe “Boho” in Kirovsk, entrance
Inside the “Boho” is pretty cute
Noodles with egg, cafe “Boho”
Interior of the cafe “Boho”, Kirovsk
Then, using Google Maps, we walked down the street to a nearby park.
We walk from the cafe towards the park
The road to the park from the cafe
Here is the main entrance to the park:
The main entrance to the Kirovsk city Park
Kirovsk City Park
Kirovsk City Park in the evening
Very cozy, snow-covered and well-lit. A pleasant place to walk.
Then we went for a walk around the city. It is small – the population is about 26,000 people.
Snow-covered Lake Verkhneye near the park
This is Lake Verkhny, next to it there is a monument to the defenders of the Arctic and, a little further, the house of culture and kurortny Boulevard – one of the most attractive places in the city.
Monument to the defenders of the Arctic
Kirovsk Christmas decorations
A typical bus stop in Kirovsk
House of Culture in Kirovsk
From it there are gorgeous wide stairs that grow into a resort boulevard. This is a very cozy and photogenic street.
View of Kurortny Boulevard from the side of the House of Culture
Kurortny Boulevard in Kirovsk
Kurortny Boulevard in winter in the city of Kirovsk
It overlooks the square, next to which there is a two-storey building of a local shopping center, open until 19 o’clock, and a museum.
Elephants, behind them on the left is Kurortny Boulevard
Elephants on Kirovsk Square
We don’t really like museums, so we’ll just take a photo of its facade.
The building of the main museum of Kirovsk
The building of the main museum of Kirovsk, view from the road
Another bus stop
Typical yard landscapes of Kirovsk
View of the Museum and the main shopping center
Our first walk through the park and the city center took about 2 hours, then we went home to sleep.
Here’s some more urban architecture:
The dreary architecture of Kirovsk
Beautiful night view of the mountains over Kirov
Unusual night landscapes of Kirovsk
We are going to our house after a walk
And here are our houses
We also went to the Mysterious Forest Art Park – it’s a really cool place. I’m not a fan of this at all, but I was impressed. We spent a couple of hours there, and if it hadn’t been for the frost, we would have walked more, but the park is completely located in the open air, so it was a little cold. I have already written a post about visiting this place – you can read it here.
A walk through the Mysterious Forest Art Park
A walk through the Mysterious Forest Art Park, Kirovsk
A walk through the Mysterious Forest Art Park, Kirovsk 2021
The next morning we went to realize the main purpose of this trip – to ride 🙂
Big Woodyavr, main entrance
There is a ticket office, rental and toilets in this building, and you can also buy a snowmobile tour. We paid 5,300 rubles each for two ski passes for five days. The cashier advised to save the receipt and take a picture of the ski pass – if lost, it can be restored.
Having completed the formalities, we went to the main lift (the only one) and went upstairs. Ordinary booths, a little strange in height – you won’t be able to stand up in them, they are low.
Big Wood, main cabin lift
Big Woodwork, inside the booth
Bolshoy Woodyavr, the upper station of the lift
The weather on our first day was not particularly friendly – it was cold and windy, sometimes there was fog and a fine snowfall. Nevertheless, I decided to go around all the available routes to understand how everything works here.
From the upper station of the cabin lift, you can go either down to the starting station, or to the southern slope, which is reached by two tracks – red and black.
Big Woodcutter, view from North to South elephant
Large Woodcut, view of the chairlift and restaurant
The panoramic restaurant building is being completed upstairs
On the roof of an old abandoned station
The red track is good and long, but at the end there is a gentle section about 500 m long, and snowboarders do not have enough to get about 200 m. No matter how hard I tried, it never worked out! The black track, in my opinion, is not quite black, rather red. It’s not very long, so I only had to drive through it once, and I didn’t want to anymore. They say that last year it was located differently, and it was more interesting.
Both the red and black tracks connect just in the area of this gentle section, at the end of which there is a chairlift, on which you can climb back to the upper station of the cable lift, or you can go down to the building where there is a cafe and other services useful for skiers.
The lower station of the ski lift is also located here.
Big Woodyavr, slope map
The resort has two ski areas – the northern and southern slopes. The trails of the northern slope run along the cabin lift – they are wide, long and comfortable for any level of skiing. The tracks of the southern slope are laid along two tow lifts. They are my biggest disappointment of the resort.
Wide trails of the North, next to the cabin lift
The northern elephant of the resort
Wide trails of the North, along the cabin lift
Bolshoy Woodyavr, tow lifts of the Southern slope
Bolshoy Woodyavr, tow lifts in the South
In addition to being slow, the ascent takes a long time, it is also inconvenient – personally, my leg ached from the pressure of the handle of the hook, as if it were lying down 🙂
In total, there is a Large Woodcutter at guests’ disposal: one cabin lift, one slow chairlift, three buggies and 2 indoor travelators.
In general, the trails are good for beginners and for secondary schools who don’t need much yet. Of course, it was a little boring for me, I didn’t have enough variety of trails and landscapes.
There are two cafes on the territory of the resort. One is near the cabin lift at the lower station, the second is near the tow barThere is a lift on the southern slope, also at the lower station.
The latter is clearly better – tastier food, lower prices and more fun.
Big Woodyavr, cafe on the Southern Elephant
A large woodcutter, inside a cafe on the Southern Elephant
inside the cafe on the Southern Elephant
And Marcel is also hanging out there – a rescue dog who will not miss a single chicken on the plates of the guests, looks at you with devoted eyes until he gets his own 🙂
Marcel the dog inside the cafe on the Southern Elephant
Marcel the dog is eyeing your lunch
We became very good friends over lunch
The prices in the cafe are adequate – soup from 180 to 240 rubles, buckwheat – 100 rubles, puffs – 90 rubles, hot from 240 to 350 rubles. Local prices are two times lower compared to the same Rosa Khutor.
It is clear that the resort is being monitored – all routes are marked. For example, such signs stand on a rope hoist, where it can wobble. Very cute.
A sign that it may storm during the ascent on the bugle
A sign that it may storm during the ascent
View of the hillock of the Southern slope
Of course, I did not see the employees who stand and look at each departing guest as at Rosa Khutor, here they sit in their booths.
We rode for five days. In two of them, the main routes were completely closed due to bad weather, and only the lower ones were working. We did not use the ski pass that day, the money is not refunded in such cases. If you want to be safe, take option five out of seven if you plan not to go on some days. We took five out of five because it was cheaper that way 🙂
My riding experience is five years, of which I rode Rosa Khutor for four years, so I can only compare it with her. On the “Rose”, of course, the nature is more picturesque due to the forest landscapes, and the mountains are different, rocky. There are many more trails, and they are different. On the “Big Wood” nature is more monotonous, and everything is arranged differently.
However, Rosa Khutor costs 2-3 times more expensive;) Therefore, we have no complaints, just stating the facts. If you are lucky with the weather, then spending 4-5 days in Kirovsk and riding is the best option – I think it will be boring more.
We usually skated from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., there is no evening skiing here, the tracks close at 18:00 on Monday and Sunday, the rest of the time at 19:00. Strange, of course. Almost all the tracks are illuminated, they could work until late in the evening.
South slope during the wind, Kirovsk
South slope from the chairlift during the wind
Upper station of the chair, Big Woodyavr
After skiing, we went home for dinner or went to the Tirvas sanatorium – there is a good buffet for 350 rubles per person with dishes of Russian cuisine: a couple of soups to choose from, 4-5 types of hot, 3-4 side dishes, 4-6 salads, fruits, compote, tea and cupcakes for dessert. Very good and quite tasty for only 350 rubles.
Weather in Kirovsk
What about the weather? As I said, we were from January 17th to January 23rd, there were three days of bad weather – a blizzard, strong wind and frost. As a result, the slopes were closed for two days. The rest of the days are generally tolerable. The temperature on the slopes is minus 8-12. The piercing wind was in the way – it would have been better without it. I had to dress warmly.
It was coldest on the ski lifts. They also froze on the chairlift – it is without a protective dome, just the “brother” of the lift to the “Stone Pillar” at Rosa Khutor, the same slow and cold, you can get frostbite 🙂
When is the best time to go?
As the locals told us, the ski season in Kirovsk begins in early December and lasts until mid-April, there are exceptions, if you are lucky with snow, it can start in November and last until early May. But that’s how lucky you are.
We were here from January 17th to 23rd, and for three days the slopes were closed due to bad weather. For a couple of days, the air temperature was around -23, strong wind and snow, as well as poor visibility.
That is, we were not very lucky with the weather for skiing.
In general, I liked everything, it was our first trip to Kirovsk – a cozy city, there is no valuable architecture, but it is surrounded by pretty snow-capped mountains. The people here are very friendly and friendly. Thanks to their advice, we decided to visit the “Mysterious Forest”.
I don’t know if I’ll come here again this year. I realized that resorts with a wide variety of trails and the absence of ski lifts are still more suitable for skiing – well, this is not my thing 🙂
Pros and cons of the Big Woodywire
- Low prices for flights from Moscow and accommodation.
- The resort is located within the city limits, which is very convenient – you can walk from nearby houses and get there by regular public transport.
- The resort is small and cozy – it is impossible to get lost here.
- In addition to the prepared trails, there are many opportunities for off-piste skiing.
- No queues and jostling at the lifts.
- Low prices for meals at the resort.
- One very slow, unprotected chairlift.
- Since this is the north of Russia, you may not be lucky with the weather here – at minus 20 it is not very comfortable to ride, you need good warm clothes.
- The southern slope is accessible only by rope lifts, but they are slow and uncomfortable, especially for beginners and snowboarders.
- The quality of taxis in Kirovsk is not very high – mostly some old tortured cars like Lada-dvenashki and Renault, unsafe for passengers, and not always adequate drivers – they can talk on the phone while driving, or drive reckless on an icy road.
There is Yandex in the city.Taxis and Fortune taxis, which provide almost the same service. At the same time, Yandex often has prices twice as high as Fortuna. “Fortuna” needs to be ordered by phone, and Yandex – through the application. I advise you to watch Yandex first – if the price is not good, then call Fortuna.
Cold and wind on the armchair of a Large Woodcutter
Low visibility in bad weather, Big Wood