Skiing Lake Van

While the skiing in the Kaçkar was consistently good and easy to arrange, the skiing that we did around Lake Van was much more varied.  We rented a car in Erzurum which greatly facilitated getting to the various mountains that we wanted to visit.  Indeed it’d be very difficult to do this part of the trip using public transportation.

DSCN0218 by bryandkeith on flickr

It turns out that Scott is a bit of a volcano nut.  We did ski up Süphan and Nemrut, but Scott also had his eyes on Ağrı and Tendürek.  Those latter two require permission from the jandarma and a bit more planning so we were able convince Scott to ski the big chain of mountains to the south of Lake Van instead.  Süphan, Nemrut, Başet, and Artos all ended up being very different days.  Combined with the powder skiing in the Kaçkar it made for a super two weeks.

We spent two nights in Patnos where the folks at our hotel recommended an absolutely fabulous restaurant, Baran Bursa İskender.  I suppose we can thank them for supplying us with the energy to summit Süphan, Turkey’s 3rd highest peak at just over 4000m.  It was my first time above 4000m since climbing Longs my last month in Boulder almost three years ago.

DSCN0265 by bryandkeith on flickr

We took about 12 hours for Süphan, I think.  The most notable aspects were the incredible lack of wind and the horrendous skiing conditions.  The descent was 1700m of survival skiing.  I told the group that if that had been my first day after not skiing for three years, I would have sold my skis and taken up knitting or something.  For the record we took the Kışkılı Mahallesi route (Aydınlar Köyü, Adilcevaz, Bitlis).  We had talked about starting from Armutlu Köyü (Patnos), but I think that would have been an even longer day since it’s ~300m lower.

DSCN0229 by bryandkeith on flickr

View of Ağrı Dağı from Süphan by bryandkeith on flickr

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The following day we drove to Gevaş and stopped along the way for a short day of skiing at Nemrut.  This is not to be missed.  I recommend a day with stellar weather when there’s still lots of snow on the mountains south of Tatvan.  Also be sure there’s no wind and a few well-placed clouds so you can enjoy the gorgeous mirror-like reflections off the crater lake.

DSCN0291 by bryandkeith on flickr

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The last three nights of our trip were spent in Gevaş.  On our first day we made the good decision to drive to Sapakonak (Gürpınar) and ski Başet Tepesi.  This small unassuming summit is much bigger than it looks.  The skiing down was much better than any of us expected.

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Not the real summit, but that's as high as we got by bryandkeith on flickr

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Back at the car in the village the mayor’s wife invited us for tea.  Kurdish is the language of the village, but the mayor’s wife spoke excellent Turkish.  The mayor was a bit harder to understand, but the main thing he wanted us to let the world know is how awful the road is to his village.  Take photos, he said, and show the media that Sapakonak needs a paved road.  Well, haha, IMOHO, the road seemed pretty darn nice.

Our last day of skiing was a half day on Artos, the steep summit that towers over Gevaş.  We skinned up a couple hours to stretch our legs, enjoyed views of the town and lake, survived the descent, and got back early enough for a bit of sightseeing.

Across the street from the Öğretmen Evi in Gevaş by bryandkeith on flickr

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5 Responses to Skiing Lake Van

  1. Suzanne says:

    Looks like you’re still having fun! Are you ever coming back?

  2. Peter Smith says:

    A wonderful place to ski. Even with the development, Nemrut would be a fun place to ski mid season when the powder is fresh. The area south of Lake Van goes on forever. Thanks to Bryan for showing us around the area and actually remembering the names of where we were. I just recall comfortable places to stay, great food, and nice ski touring. The runs are surprisingly long.

  3. Hello, Great story !

    can you advise me about place to sleep, and rental car company ?

    Best regards


    • Bryan Keith says:

      Ok, Shams, let’s see what I can do. Keep in mind that this tour was over seven years ago.

      On a separate message you asked about permission. We skied Süphan, Nemrut (Tatvan), Başet, and Artos. None needed permission, and I believe that’s still the case.

      We stayed in Erzurum, Patnos, and Gevaş. We did not have reservations before arriving. In Erzurum we stayed at the Kevransaray Oteli (+90 442 235 1308). I’ve stayed here many times and can recommend it. Zekeriya (+90 538 863 8174) is the manager. Orhan often works the desk. I don’t seem to have his cell. I am not sure if Zekeriya or Orhan speak English.

      In Patnos we stayed at the Otel Çavdaroğlu (?) or perhaps the name was Otel Çavuşoğlu (?). That’s what I have written in my notes. I only stayed that one time in Patnos.

      The trickiest place to find accommodation could be Gevaş. We stayed at the Öğretmen Evi. These are the housing for teachers, and they rent out rooms for anyone when they’re not full with teachers. I’ve stayed at many Öğretmen Evi in Turkey, but I’ve also been turned away when they’ve been full. I don’t know if there are other choices in Gevaş.

      For the rental car company, I have no idea. Scott made some sort of reservation and paid a deposit before leaving the US. That money disappeared into a black hole. I don’t even know if we used the same company where he made the reservation. There are lots of little rental car companies in Erzurum (and many cities in Turkey). Orhan at Kervansaray can point you in the right direction. The company we used may not have even had an office. They came to our hotel to make the negotiation. Then they went out somewhere to buy a ski rack for the Duster since that was a requirement for us. Then they brought the car to our hotel. We had a phone number of someone in Van who showed up at the airport (in Van), and we handed the keys over to that person. Of course we paid extra to drop off the car in Van. Someone had to drive it back to Erzurum. At that point fuel was kind of expensive in Turkey. Now it’s quite cheap.

      If you’re just interested in this stuff around Lake Van, then there’s no reason to go to Erzurum. We were already in Erzurum. There ought to be good skiing a bit further south of Van, perhaps off the Bahçesaray road, but I’ve never been there.

      I hope that helps. Any more questions? I can highly recommend skiing in the Kaçkar from Olgunlar (Yusufeli). I’ve done that about five times now, I think. You can search this blog if you haven’t read about that already.

  4. EYBERT-BERARD Shams says:

    Thank you very much for all informations !

    we will stay around van lake. But thank you for your time you spent to answer me

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