Even though Peter didn’t come on this trip, I have to thank him for making my ski trip happen this year. Peter initiated an e-mail discussion about potentially skiing together, and that’s what got me thinking about skiing in the first place. I also have to thank İsmet for actually coming on the trip. She didn’t make it to Muş, but she did the planning for the Kaçkar portion of the trip.
İsmet arranged for us to stay at the Kaçkar Pansiyon in Olgunlar with İsmail Bayram (not to be confused with İsmail Altunay in Yaylalar) and his family. I was sorry not to be staying with Osman and Fatma who I’ve stayed with on both my previous winter Kaçkar trips. However, I called Osman later and learned they weren’t in Olgunlar this winter anyway. I’ll have to go back in the summer to visit them.
Skiing with İsmet made this trip to the Kaçkar quite different from my others. Previously our group goals had mostly been to find good snow and make nice turns. İsmet, however, isn’t really a skier per se, although she can certainly ski better than I can. She’s a ski mountaineer. She’s also a professional mountain guide for tourists, and since this was her first ski trip to Olgunlar, she was interested in checking out routes for clients, especially routes that go the summit of something.
Another thing that made this trip different from the others was that the snow wasn’t as good — there was less of it, and the snow was very hard and wind-blown up high. For example, Megan and I casually skied right up to the top of Kanucar (aka Hanucar?) Pass when we were there a few years ago. This year, in an attempt to reach the pass, İsmet took off her skis and still couldn’t make it up the pass kicking steps into the steep hard snow. We had at least three instances of this — getting right up to within a few meters of the ridge and not being able to actually reach the ridge because of a vertical wall of very hard snow.
Even with these poor Kaçkar conditions I managed to find stretches of pretty good snow for three of the five days we skied. İsmet even described it as the best five days of snow she’s ever experienced. Like I said, she’s not really a skier. 😉
On the first day we skied to Nastaf (aka Hastaf) Yaylası and headed up the big drainage from there, the third of the three big north-facing valleys from Olgunlar.