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    Though probably unlikely to satisfy the cravings of adrenaline junkies or speed demons, the gentle slopes of Yuyang Ski Resort offer a day of fun and sun in the snow in the back hills of Beijing.

    Yuyang, which is situated just over 60 kilometres from Beijing was first opened in 2006 and claims to be the largest of its kind near Beijing. Whilst a glance at the piste map promises a choice of nine runs to suit a wide range of abilities, it is worth being aware that such variety may not always be available. At the time of our visit only 2 nursery slopes were snow-covered and running, with the promise of another more challenging slope (with chairlift) and board park opening in the coming days.

    Having arrived knowing not quite what to expect, we were impressed by the efficiency of the operation. As the fairly recent opening date suggested, everything was very modern and in good condition. The resort offers facilities for independent visitors, as well as groups and even VIPs, who are catered for in a special lounge on the second floor of the reception building.

    In less than 20 minutes, and with minimal queuing, we found ourselves kitted out with skis or snowboards, boots and warm, if somewhat inelegant outfits, to struggle down the slopes in. Ill-fitting boots were quickly swapped for a more comfortable size, and staff were on-hand to assist beginners in the fastening of any stray straps and buckles. Excess bags and clothing were stored in secure yet convenient lockers, leaving nothing for us to worry about other than making it down the hill in one piece!

    With the first drag tow situated less than 300 metres from the ski collection point; there was no need to carry skis or boards very far before hitting the white stuff. Even at this stage, we were greeted by smiling staff who were happy to offer an arm to lean on as we strapped on our equipment. We didn't have to wait long before we reached the front of the queue for the lift to begin what was a very slow ascent up the slope. The snails' pace at which the lift travels makes life easier for beginners, but more advanced skiers are likely to find this a bit of a drag in more ways than one.

    When finally at the top, we were pleased to find the slope well-pisted and not too icy, thanks to the chilly blasts of man-made snow spouting from the nearby machines. The slopes were dotted with skiers and boarders of varying ages, shapes, sizes and abilities, a few of whom were elegantly making their way downhill. The majority were however in desperate-looking snowploughs, sliding precariously backwards or simply taking an enforced seat in the snow. Regardless of the trips and tumbles which occurred with clockwork-like regularity, accompanied by ear-splitting shrieks, everyone appeared to be having great fun. The upbeat tunes drifting up the slopes from the open-air DJ booth at the foot of the slopes added to the festive atmosphere.

    Come lunchtime, Yuyang offers three convenient dining choices. At the foot of the slopes is the handily located outdoor eating area with lots of benches and tables at which you can enjoy a packed lunch or a steaming hot snack from the stands nearby. Food here is cheap and cheerful, however the menu is in Chinese so unless you have mastered a few key Chinese characters or fancy a mystery lunch it may be wise to have a look at what is being cooked up and to point out whatever takes your fancy.

    The other dining option is situated inside a large "eco-sphere" adjacent to the ski rental hall. In contrast to the slopes outside, this inside area has been landscaped with plants and waterfalls making up the eating environment. It is also possible to eat in a private dining room on the first floor, although the polished wooden steps are more than a little hazardous to ski-boot clad feet! The menu here offers greater choice, but prices remain reasonable.

    For those convinced after a morning on the slopes that skiing or boarding is definitely for them, the ski and snowboard shops in the main rental hall offer a selection of shiny new boots, skis and boards to buy. If however the prices of equipment are enough to make you think again, there is a good selection of accessories with which you can at least start to dress the part!

    Advertised prices quote 200 Yuan for a full day of boarding or skiing (rising to 360 Yuan at the weekend). This includes entrance ticket, ski ticket and suit rental. Be aware that an additional deposit is required for equipment rental. Cheaper deals are available for those who purchase tickets in advance. Take your own gloves and thick socks. Sunglasses are also recommended.

    Yuyang can be reached with relative ease from central Beijing by public transport. Catch bus number 918 from Dongzhimen bus station to Pinggu (2 hour journey, 15 Yuan each way), then take a private taxi for the remaining 20 minute journey to the slopes (20 Yuan each way). If you should miss the last bus back to Beijing departing Pinggu at 1900, it is possible to take a taxi, however this option is a little more costly. The centre is open from 0830 to 1730, December to March.