Monday, May 31, 2010

Bambuser Videos

Bambuser is this sweet app I've got on my phone, which uploads live video from my phone to the blog. I usually keep the videos stuck down at the bottom of the threads, but, I've moved it up for a bit just to remind folks that it is there. The latest videos include another care package from Colorado, two videos from Olympos, Turkey where we spent the last vacation climbing for five days, and a concert at a Univeristy near us. Check 'em out, and if you go back far enough, you'll find some nice videos from a Cuban bar in Istanbul...


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Skiing the Turkish Pow, Part 4. All the Rest.

My buddy Nick, complains that all I write about here is skiing. So, Nick, this is the last one. I'm rolling all the remaining ski adventures from Turkey into one last post on the topic. That is, until next season.

And, yes, we're still skiing here. Much like Colorado, the warm weather comes, but the dedicated skiers just keep on waxing up the boards. Last weekend we traveled 5 hours Southeast to Ecyries, an ancient volcano that towers above the town of Kayseri. Carrie Simpson has some great photos from the trip, here. And, Erin also posted the best of our shots here.

The trek up to the basecamp was taxing, lots of taking off skis, and then putting them back on as we moved from patches of snow to patches of talus. The big backpacks full of ice and avy gear also didn't help. We didn't know what to expect, so we took the whole kitchen-sink up with us. Next time, light and fast. The best part of the trip was meeting up with some local climbing friends, Nurretin and Agi. They hosted us at their house on Friday night, fed us, and hiked up half the mountain with us Saturday morning. Many thanks to them, and their gorgeous German Shephard, Neo, for helping us find our way up to this fantastic campsite.

The couloirs above camp will have to wait until next season. Bad weather, big packs, and a long drive back home shut us down Sunday morning. Regardless, it was a good scouting session, and we did get a couple of turns in. Which, makes that ski day number 19 for me this season. Not too bad for living in Turkey.

What was a bit odd, was that the approach to camp was underneath the ski lifts at the closed resort of Ecyries. What was even more odd, was that the lifts started running at about 11:00, taking tourists to the top for sightseeing. Next time, I'm taking the lifts. That backpack was too much of a bear to muster any energy to summit and ski the next day.

At least we got to ski down from a little above camp, and, we ticked off another resort. Skiing Ecyries, from the top lift, makes it 5 Turkish Resorts I made it too this season. Even if we didn't get to ski what we wanted to, it's always good to get out and tour with friends: old ones, new ones, and furry ones.

Working backwards a bit in the ski calendar season here in Turkey, the last place we spent some time at was Dorukkaya. This resort is right next door to the first place we went this season, Kartalkaya. Even though you park in the same parking lot, the two resorts are separated by different hotels, lift systems/tickets, terrain, and clientele. Kartalkaya is more old school skier, Dorukkaya is definitely hipster snowboarder. Even the hotels matched this theme. Kartalkaya seems like an old ski lodge, with it's wooden rafters and grand fireplaces. Dorukkaya was cut from the pages of Dwell Magazine, boasting low ceilings, right angled modern architecture, and lounge music. We didn't stay at the hotel, instead, opting for day trips to the resort via a bus tour that departs just a few blocks from our house. It's not a bad deal, it includes your lift pass, transport, lunch, and wine on the way home. You board the bus at 5 AM, and get back home at 8 PM. Full day of skiing, no fuss, and with a wine buzz to boot. Conservative Muslim country my ass, I'd like to see you get served wine on a ski bus back home.

Our first day at Dorukkaya was sick. I knew it would be, it rained hard in Ankara the night before; and I just had a feeling that if it was raining here, then it was dumping powder on the resort. Sure enough. Sadly, the only camera we remembered was my phone, and so we only got a couple of grainy shots. I'm here to tell you though, it was off the hook good. With our skins, we were able to ski the side country that nobody else could get to, and we spent the entire day on the backside of the mountains, lapping up the 10 inches of fresh snow the mountain gods had dropped in our laps.

Nobody even touched those tracks in the last photo. Ridiculous.

Our next weekend, we went straight back to Dorukkaya. Of course, we didn't hit anymore powder, and, in fact, some places were getting down right bony. It was to be the last "official" ski day of the season. We made the most of it, pausing only to toss back beers with the locals who had some stashed in the snow (good to know that this practice is common everywhere, even Turkey), chomp a quick grilled sausage sandwich, and snap some photos of the amazing alpine mountains of central Anatolia.

How about some of these outfits?

First, you have the rich preppy guy, with his sweater thrown over his shoulder, who obviously thinks that drinking Miller is, uh, cool?? Zoom in on the left hand, yup, it's the "Champagne of Beers."

And then you have the zebra jacket...

And what about this joker, drinking hot wine, in her silly blue jack---oops, that's Erin. Oh, and wait, she's cute as hell! How did that photo get in here?

Finally, I love this lift. Ancient? Yes. Rigged with duck tape? Probably. Counterweights made of leftovers from a cement building, yeah, they'll probably work.

We'll definitely be back to Dorukkaya. I want to stay at the hotel, and ski two days in a row. I want to act like a swanky Turk, and drink Miller. Oh, and here's our friend we started the day with (who, in fairness, was an awesome guy, and a good skier). Yeah, he's still drinking. In fact, he hasn't put his drink down, up the lifts, and down the slopes, with beer in hand. Style points? Yeah, all fucking 10 of them.

Other places we skied in Turkey?

One was the forgettable on-piste, but massive off-piste potential of Ilgaz. I went while Erin was off in Dubai or Israel on one of her business trips. We headed up with some new staff at school, a kick-ass Australian couple who rave about the skiing in Japan. Once again, Carrie and I stormed the slopes, and showed off the tele-turn, turning heads, and opening minds!

Again, all I had was my phone, but, literally, this is the entire ski mountain. Yeah, not much too it. The countryside surrounding it was gorgeous though. And the skiing was cheap, 7 dollar lift passes. With 7 buck lift passes, you also get a massive cultural experience, as Carrie documented well in her blog here.

Finally, way back in February, we participated in the Anatolian X-C Ski Marathon. Well, they canceled the marathon, but it was a ski race, of sorts. Sponsored on the part of the Estonian Embassy, this too was more of a cultural experience, than a proper day of skiing, but it was fun as hell, and, FREE!

Kristen, a fellow teacher from Longmont joined us on this trip. We were carted off to the race site on a free bus, fed a free lunch, and drank the shit out of free beer and hot wine! It really felt like a proper winter festival, the grills were out, the music was pumping, and the X-C track was well groomed into a 5K loop.

If only they had been able to rent me boots that weren't three sizes too small.

All sorts of cultural festivities went on with the festival, but it all ended too soon, and we had to jump back on the busses for the two hour drive home. My favorite part of the day were these bad ass ambulances, Adam Davies, eat your heart out.

So, that's it Nick. My last post about wintertime on the Anatolian Plateau. Now it's time to get back to the climbing. I've been obsessing about the skiing this winter, but that's just because two years in Ecuador was as much time as I have been off my skis since college. What can I say, at least it's not biking! Wow, now THAT would be boring.

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