Surf Europe 100 | The Biggest And Best Surfing Gear Guide For 2018 Has Officially Arrived

Surfers of the world, assemble. For this thing, right here, shall be your new wave-based bible

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Our pals over at Surf Europe have only gone and done it, haven’t they? They’ve only gone and bloody well done it. A Surf Europe 100. A Surf Europe 100 that, yes you guessed it, takes a big fat look at the hottest 100 surf products in the world right now.

In their own words, they “stalked, followed, fondled, fingered, tickled, bit and sniffed the very finest surf gear in the whole world, so that you don’t have to.” And then, when they were done with all that there sniffing, fingering, fondling and general silliness… the lads wrote some words about the surf gear. Wrote some words, shot some photos, and made some videos. The results of which, we think you’ll agree, look nice. Very nice. Very nice indeed.

Check Out The Surf Europe 100 2018 Here

If you love surfing, go and have a look at the Surf Europe 100 right now. You won’t regret it. Heck, even if you don’t like surfing (for reasons you’d rather not get into) go and have a look at it all the same. It’s so good that we’re convinced it’ll thaw out even the frostiest of anti-surf hearts. Products aside, we’re very much enjoying the shark cut-out and excellent use of fruit. Top job.

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Fans of watermelon will get a kick out of the Surf Europe 100.

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*starts humming the Jaws soundtrack*

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Editor’s Letter | The Remote Issue

This month’s issue is all about getting out there

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Reading some adventure stories, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the aim of the game is to get to the remotest location possible – as far away from other people as you can. For the most part however, that’s not been my experience.

Although there is undoubtedly something powerful about being ‘out there’ by yourself (just ask Sarah Outen, featured in this month’s Big Interview) all of my most enjoyable adventures have been ones that I’ve shared. I don’t just mean by posting pictures of it and waiting for your friends to hit the heart button either. Sorry Zuckerberg, that’s just not the same.

“It’s always the people who make the story worth telling.”

Of course, you don’t want every man and his dog along for the ride. No-one likes big crowds of tourists (there’s a reason James Renhard’s story this month is about leaving Las Vegas). But even surfers, those most secretive of creatures, would have to admit that taking a select crew of the right people can make a remote location infinitely more enjoyable.

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Franck Buisson, guardian of the remote refuge we stayed in in France last spring – and maker of particularly strong moonshine. Photo: Tristan

It’s an effect I experienced first hand this time last year, when I headed off to explore the quiet slopes of the Maurienne Valley, one of the few remaining places in France where you can enjoy powder without having to queue at the crack of dawn.

The lack of crowds made the riding great, but it was the people I was with that made the trip truly memorable (despite the lobotomising effects of the local genepi).

The same is true in even more remote places. This month issue tells the story of two Englishmen (or are they mad dogs?) who spent weeks living in the Amazon Rainforest’s “Intangible Zone” – the secluded area set aside for communities who chose to minimise their contact with the outside world.

It was a gruelling experience at times – Benjamin Sadd describes “weeks of runny poo and a multitude of biting insects and giant spiders” – but both the story he wrote and the film they made about it are hilarious, chiefly because they’re so obviously entertained by each other’s company.

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It takes two to tango. Canoeing in the Amazon’s “Intangible Zone” wouldn’t have been the same alone. Photo: Benjamin Sadd

Of course this issue isn’t just about going to wild places. There’s contributing editor Sam Haddad’s incredible (if slightly disturbing) investigation of the subculture of biohacking, which involves people implanting remote sensors or microchips under their skin, adding sixth and even seventh senses to the range of human experience.

There’s also Stuart Kenny’s fascinating piece about one ski resort’s battle to remain independent, and ensure that they’re not overwhelmed by too many tourists.

But what struck me about the majority of this month’s stories was that even if you’re travelling to the world’s remotest places, and travelling alone (like this month’s featured photographer Joshua Cunningham) it’s always the people who make the story worth telling.

On to pastures new. Hiking in Swedish Lapland last summer - read the full story in this month's issue.

On to pastures new. Hiking in Swedish Lapland last summer – read the full story in this month’s issue.

This is, I’m sorry to say, my last month at Mpora. And (if you’ll forgive me the horrible cliché) it’s the people that I’ll miss more than anything.

It’s been my absolute pleasure to share adventures, and stories of adventure, with some incredible folk over the past four years – my brilliant colleagues (who I have no doubt, will do an excellent job of taking over the helm), our amazing contributors, and of course all of you lot reading this.

All that’s left to say is thank you to you for reading, for getting involved, for contributing, for sending us your photos, videos, stories and comments; for liking, for sharing; for occasionally insulting, and always inspiring me. It’s been a trip.

Keep enjoying the adventure.
– Tristan, Editor-in-Chief

Read more of this month’s Remote Issue here. 

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Highest Mountain In England | Top 10

From the Lake District’s Scafell Pike to Cross Fell in the Pennines, these are England’s highest points

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If we were betting people, which generally speaking we’re not, we’d wager good money that you’d be more likely to know the name of the highest mountain in the world than the name of the highest mountain in England – Scafell Pike. This is probably partly because Everest, with its summit 8,848 metres above sea level, has in recent years had a movie made about it starring Jake Gyllenhaal. It’s also, we’d imagine, got something to do with the fact that Everest has claimed the lives of hundreds of climbers over the years and is generally synonymous with legendary mountaineering feats. Scafell Pike (978m), on the other hand, is a challenging hike in the Lake District that’s never once featured in a Gyllenhaal film.

1) Scafell Pike

Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England. Photo via Getty Images.

Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England. Photo via Getty Images.

As we’ve already mentioned, Scafell Pike is England’s highest mountain. Located in Cumbria, in the Lake District National Park, its summit is 978 metres above sea level. For comparison purposes, the highest peak in Wales is Snowdon at 1,085 metres while the highest one in Scotland, and the entire UK for that matter, is Ben Nevis at 1,345 metres.

2) Sca Fell

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Scafell Pike and Sca Fell, the highest and second highest mountain in England. Photo via Getty Images.

Sca Fell, also known as Scafell and Scawfell, has a summit 964 metres above sea level. It is separated from its neighbour Scafell Pike by Mickledore col. Mickledore, which means “great door”, is a mountain saddle 840 metres high. Not only does the col join Scafell Pike to Sca Fell, it is also gateway between the valleys of Wasdale and Eskdale.

3) Helvellyn

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View from the summit of Helvellyn, the third highest mountain in England. Photo via Getty Images.

Helvellyn is the third highest mountain in England, and the Lake District. Situated right between the lakes of Thirlmere and Ullswater, it has an elevation of 950 metres. In January of 2018, none other than Julia Bradbury presented an ITV show in which Helvellyn was named ‘Britain’s Best Walk’.

4) Ill Crag

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Route to Broad Crag from Ill Crag. Photo via Getty Images.

Ill Crag is often trekked across by those attempting to reach the summit of Scafell Pike. Due to the rocky nature of its upper echelons, however, its summit is often bypassed in favour of an easier and more direct approach to England’s highest mountain. It forms part of the Scafell chain and has an elevation of 935 metres. Those who climb it are treated to stunning views of Eskdale, Bowfell, and Crinkle Crags.

5) Broad Crag

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Route from Broad Crag to Scafell Pike. Photo via Getty Images.

Like the Ant and Dec of the Lake District, Broad Crag and Ill Crag come as a pair and have a height difference of one metre. Its summit is 934 metres above sea level. Ill Crag’s one is 935 metres, and situated to the south east of Broad. The fell forms part of the Scafell chain.

6) Skiddaw

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The sixth highest mountain in England, Skiddaw. Photo via Getty Images.

Situated just north of lovely Lake District town of Keswick, Skiddaw is the sixth highest mountain in England. It’s probably the easiest of the high English summits to ascend as there’s a very convenient tourist track up it, one that starts in a car park north-east of Keswick. For casual walkers looking to climb a mountain for the very first time, we reckon Skiddaw’s well worth a look.

7) Great End

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Rain clouds over Great End and Styhead Tarn. Photo via Getty Images.

Great End has an elevation of 910 metres. As its name suggests, it is the last mountain in a chain (the Scafell chain, if you must know). From the south, it appears as just another big hill in a long collection of big hills. From the north though, its face rises up dramatically like something from Lord of the Rings. This area is popular with wild campers and rock climbers.

8) Bowfell

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View from the summit of Bowfell, the eighth highest mountain in England. Photo via Getty Images.

Shaped sort of like a pyramid, with an elevation of 902 metres, Bowfell has the eighth highest summit in England. It is located in the heart of the Lake District, and sees a large numbers of walkers hit its slopes every years.

9) Great Gable

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View looking out to Great Gable, the ninth highest mountain in England. Photo via Getty Images.

Its name might remind you of a second-rate magician you once saw at a children’s birthday party, but Great Gable is actually an 899 metre high mountain in the centre of the Lake District. The high pass of Windy Gap (no prizes for guessing why it’s called that) connects it to Green Gable, while the lower pass of Beck Head joins it to nearby Kirk Fell. Because of its location, and all-round prominence, the panoramic view from the top of Great Gable is one of the finest in the region.

10) Cross Fell

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Cross Fell, tenth highest peak in England. Screenshot via Google Maps.

The only peak on this list not to be found in the Lake District, Cross Fell is an 893m high peak situated in the North Pennines. The summit is a stony plateau which forms part of an almost eight mile long ridge that runs diagonally from north-west to south-east. This ridge also consists of Great Dun Fell, with an elevation of 849m, and Little Dun Fell, with an elevation of 842m. The three fells rise steeply above the Eden Valley on its south-western side, and drop off more gently on its South Tyne and Tees Valleys side. If you’re bored of the Lake District and looking to climb one of England’s highest, look no further.

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Going For Gold | The Katie Ormerod Interview

We caught up with one of Team GB’s brightest medal hopes ahead of the 2018 Olympics

Words by James Renhard | Main image by Christian Pondella/Red Bull Content Pool

“The 2018 Olympic Games have always been a target, so I’m not really feeling too much pressure. I’m just eager to get there.” Snowboarder Katie Ormerod repeats the mantra of many-a British sports person ahead of a the biggest event of their respective career. The difference between them and Katie is, I believe her.

On the 11th February, the eyes of the world will be watching Bokwang Snowpark in Pyeonchang as the Snowboard Slopestyle event at the 2018 Olympic Games gets under way. A slightly sleep deprived Great Britain will be looking on, their hopes resting firmly on the shoulders of 19 year old Katie Ormerod.

When Katie spoke to us down a crackly phone line a few months before the Olympics, she sounded focused, she sounded confident but, above all else, she sounded knackered.

“I’m definitely one of the contenders for a medal”

A combination of jet-lag and an intense Olympic qualifying circuit left the already normally reserved Ormerod sounding like she needed to sleep. Unfortunately for her, when you’re not only the best in the country, but among the very best in the world (plus the fact your new energy drink sponsor wants to show you off), the working day lasts a little longer.

“Yeah” confirms Ormerod with a just a hint of nerves hidden in a laugh, “ I’m tired, but it’s alright,” when I suggest that the jet lag is audible down the phone line.

When Ormerod says the 2018 Olympics have always been a target, she really does mean always. While some athletes at the games will have found their way into their sport via the back door – former sprinters becoming bobsleigh racers, heptathletes who now compete in the skeleton bob – Katie Ormerod has been snowboarding virtually all of her life.

“I started snowboarding when I was five-years-old. My whole family were keen snowboarders, riding on the dry slope up at Halifax. I kept snowboarding there every week, and then started going to the local snowdome. The whole time, I was balancing snowboarding with gymnastics as well, which really helped.”

Katie Ormerod British Olympic Snowboarder 2018 Olympic Games

Katie Ormerod shows off her trick bag ahead of the Pyeongchang Olympics – Photo: Ed Blomfield

Katie’s cousin and fellow British Olympic slopestyle snowboarder Jamie Nicholls was also a regular at Halifax, so snowboarding ability is obviously in the blood. If the old theory that mastering anything takes 10,000 hours of practice is true, being from as close as these shores have seen to a snowboarding dynasty and having a gymnastic background almost certainly helped to shape Katie into a model competition snowboarder.

It wasn’t long before this talent was noticed, and the GB Park and Pipe team – the people who look after the British freestyle ski and snowboard teams – took an interest. “At 14, I got put in the British team and then I started traveling the world with them, and doing international competitions. I guess I turned pro when I was 16 years old and now I’m going to the Olympics,” laughs Ormerod, realising that, when said aloud, it’s been somewhat if a meteoric rise. “Yeah, it’s all fell into place quite nicely. I was trying so hard when I was younger, and it’s all just come together in the end.”

“I made sure I learnt my lesson from 2014. It was a big eye-opener”

Maybe it’s modesty, or possibly the jet-lag, but Katie omits a fairly significant event from her timeline. Aged just 16, she made history as the first woman to land a Backside Double Cork 1080 – three full rotations with two off-axis flips, all while flying through the air. It was an incredible milestone, and one that no-one expected a British rider to get to first.

Now aged 19, and armed with an arsenal of tricks, Katie is fulfilling what seems like her destiny – or at least part of it – and heading to her first Olympic games. She was born just one year before snowboarding was introduced as an Olympic sport in Nagano 1998. So unlike those of us old enough to remember cheering on Graham Bell in Lillehammer, for Ormerod, snowboarding has always been an Olympic sport.

“Well, I can’t really remember beginning snowboarding because I started so young – it’s been my whole life – but I do remember that I’d always wanted to go to the Olympics.” admits Ormerod, seemingly free from the very British burden of not wanting to appear too ambitious. “I’m quite a driven person and I’ve always wanted to go to the Olympics. I’ve always wanted to make it happen.”

Katie Ormerod British Olympic Snowboarder 2018 Olympic Games

Will riding rails be the key to Katie Ormerod winning a medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics? – Photo: Ed Blomfield

This drive almost saw Katie qualify for the Sochi Olympics in 2014. Unfortunately, injury struck, meaning she had to watch Jenny Jones collect Bronze in snowboard slopestyle – Britain’s first ever Olympic medal on snow, let alone in snowboarding – from home. To many, it would have been a devastating blow, but Ormerod’s take on missing out on Sochi is surprisingly philosophical.

“I tried to go to the last Olympics in Sochi, and went to all the qualifications but I was really unlucky and got a knee injury just before the games. Nothing went my way but now I’m really glad because now, going in to Pyeongchang, I know what to expect. It is a very full-on experience. You’re literally doing a contest in order to qualify. So I made sure I learnt my lesson from 2014. It was a big eye-opener.”

It’s a stark display of the mental strength that sets us mere mortals apart from elite athletes. However, following a setback like that, mental fortitude itself is not enough. “I knew I had to get back as soon as possible, so I did the best rehab I could. I was in the gym five times a week, every day, all day for five days.”

Katie’s dedication clearly paid off. “I came back so much stronger than before, but also so much more driven.” the obvious fire in her belly evident, however softly spoken she is. “Then, when I got back on snow, I was so keen to learn new tricks and everything came together so fast. I learnt so many new tricks really quickly. I just kept doing so many repetitions of the tricks, and that changed everything. I’ve become one of the most consistent slopestyle riders. And now, I go into a contest with good tricks that I know I can land which is the difference between getting on the podium and just finishing middle of the field.”

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Katie Ormerod shows she’s not just a trick-machine, getting down with a stylish Eurocarve Photo: Ed Blomfield

It’s this mature approach, prioritising consistency over showboating, that has seen Katie leave the double cork ten in the locker more often than not over the past season.

“It would be a dream come true to get a medal, if not two”

“Even without it, I still feel like I can be a medal contender, and I’ve been quite tactical because my double ten is not one of my most consistent tricks right now, but I know that my cab 900 (two and a half full rotations while going backwards) is one of my most consistent. It’s still a good trick and can get me on the podium so I’ve just been putting that in my run knowing that it’ll get me in the top three.”

Somehow I resist the urge to get to my feet and shout “Get in, Katie!” like some pissed football fan in Wetherspoons having seen Deli Ali score a goal against Honduras.

The 2018 Winter Games sees the introduction of snowboard big air to the Olympic roster. It’s an event that sees competitors launch of a single, giant kicker, with the opportunity to do one monster trick.

It also means that Katie has double the opportunity to bring home a medal, as she’s competing in both that and slopestyle. Maybe the excitement had got the better of me, but I couldn’t resist asking Katie about the prospect of bring home a pair of Olympic medals.

“It would be a dream come true, if I get a medal, if not two. That’s definitely my aim. I feel like my chances are really good to get a medal.” confesses Katie in a tone that oozes a self assured confidence, without ever wandering into arrogance.

“I’m definitely one of the contenders because I got bronze at the Olympic test event big air in 2017, which boosted my confidence knowing that I could get a medal there. And then in slopestyle, I did a test event there and came fourth, but I’m so much more experienced now, and a much better snowboarder. Especially with the X Games medal in slopestyle, it definitely helped boost my confidence. So I think I’m in with a good shot.”

Katie Ormerod British Olympic Snowboarder 2018 Olympic Games

“It would be a dream come true” Katie Ormerod contemplates winning two gold medals at the 2018 Olympics – Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

I wonder if Katie’s meteoric rise – and the realistic expectations now on her shoulders – has brought with it any unwanted pressure to perform? “I haven’t really felt any pressure. And I hope it stays like that!” laughs Ormerod, after a beat. “When I go in to a competition, the only thing I think about is ‘what run can I do’ and on the actual competition day, all I concentrate on is my run. I don’t really think about anything else. So no, I don’t really feel too much pressure.”

On that note, the PR looking after Katie for the day politely interjects to let me know my time with her is up. As I say my goodbyes, and wish Katie luck in the Olympics, I can’t help but feel excited at the prospect of seeing another Briton bringing home a medal. Just talking to her has spiked my adrenaline. Katie, on the other hand, sounded like she was ready for a nap, although I fear the press scrum was just beginning for her.

But it’s clear having spoken to her that Katie Ormerod is going to take all of this in her stride. The training, the competition, the five ringed circus that is the Olympics, and the inevitable media obligations that go along with representing your country. It’s as if she’s been training for it all her life. Which, of course, she has.

Britain’s head snowboard coach, Hamish McKnight, who’s been working with Katie for years once said of Ormerod: “Her love of snowboarding and her work ethic, combined with her gymnastic ability, make her certain to lead a charge in the progression of women’s freestyle.” Arguably heading into the 2018 Olympic Games, she’s already there. For the 19 year-old from Bradford, the time is now.

Click here to read more stories from our Olympic Issue

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Pistes, Powder and Cheap Pints | 5 Reasons You Need To Go Skiing In Jasna, Slovakia

Looking to mix it up with your ski trip destination? You should consider the Low Tatras.

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Mountains. Covered in snow. Skis, on your feet, ready to go. Average price of beer: about €1.20, you say? And B & Bs costing as little €25 per night? Sounds decent. Sounds very decent indeed. But where would one have to go for such affordable wintery delights? Step forward into the bright glare of the spotlight – Jasna, Slovakia. 

“Compare that price to more traditional skiing destinations, and you can see that it’s a bit of a steal”

Jasná Nízke Tatry, to give it its full name, is the country’s biggest ski resort. The sandwich filling, if you’ll pardon the expression, to the bread triumvirate of Austria, Ukraine, and Poland , mountainous Slovakia has more thick forests than you could shake a big, chopped down tree at. The resort itself can be found in the Tatra Mountains. One two and a half hour flight from the UK and a 30 minute drive from Poprad Airport, and you’re there.

Here’s some reasons you need to visit.

1) Nearly 50km Of Slopes To Enjoy

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Screenshot via Jasna’s ‘Fresh Tracks’ Video.

So, technically. Technically. The resort offers 49km of ski slopes. But, I mean, come on. Between mates. Between you and me (we’re mates now, me and you), 49 is basically the same as 50. These slopes are serviced by a combined force of 30 cable cars and lifts, meaning you and your mates should be able to get around the place with ease.

The slopes up Jasna way cater for everyone – from true beginners, families with children, intermediates, advanced skiers and even world class athletes. What’s more, if you like getting off-piste, Jasna is home to some wonderfully powdery tree runs. For more on that, read the full story on what happened when we went snowboarding in Jasna.

2) It’s Very Affordable

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Screenshot via Jasna’s ‘Fresh Tracks’ Video.

Sometimes, you’ll go skiing for a week, have an absolutely amazing time, come home, look at your bank balance and be overcome with a sudden feeling of queasiness. “What have I done?!” you’ll shout at the sky with arms aloft, “I’ve bankrupted myself in the pursuit of snow fun, and now I have to live off tinned soup and old cotton walking socks for the next six months. Woe is me.”

Fortunately, with Jasna this nightmare scenario is extremely unlikely as the Slovakian ski resort is the definition of affordable. We’ve already mentioned the super low cost of accomodation and beer (€1.20 a pint, pal) but what about the lift passes? Stuff like that. Well, you’ll no doubt be delighted to hear that you can get a six-day ski pass, if you book three days in advance with GoPass, for just €178. Compare that price to more traditional skiing destinations, and you can see that it’s a bit of a steal.

Also, those worried that Jasna’s affordability means it’s synonymous with a lack of luxury need not be concerned. There are a number of four to five star hotels here, as well as some high end chalets, fine dining restaurants and top end retail outlets. More than enough going on to keep people from all walks of life happy (whether your name is Billy Big Bucks or Freda Frugal).

3) The Pow Shot In This Video

Watch this video. Then watch it again. And then, on the third viewing, pause it at the pow bit and just think to yourself “If I went to Jasna in Slovakia, that skier enjoying the off-piste pow could be me.”

We’ve done a screenshot for you to look at indefinitely (see below).

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Screenshot via ‘Jasna in 30 Seconds’ Video (YouTube).

4) Do Some Night Skiing At Biela Put

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Screenshot via ‘Jasna In 30 Seconds’ Video (YouTube).

Skiing is obviously a very fun daytime pursuit but sometimes, when the day is done, you’ll still have that burning urge to carry on; to literally never stop skiing. Fortunately, visitors to Jasna can carry on skiing well into the evening thanks to the illuminated slopes at Biela Put.

5) Enjoy Some Genuinely Spectacular Scenery

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Screenshot via ‘Jasna in 30 Seconds’ Video (YouTube).

The highest peak in this neck of the woods is Ďumbier (2043m). The second highest peak is Chopok (2024m). Situated between the super scenic valleys of Váh and Hron, visitors here are not only in for some quality skiing but also some quality “check out that lovely view” time as well.

For more information, head on over to the Visit Liptov website.

The post Pistes, Powder and Cheap Pints | 5 Reasons You Need To Go Skiing In Jasna, Slovakia appeared first on Mpora.