So we had to abandon our broken-down car in Gümüşhane, but the timing actually wasn’t bad since we had planned on spending a week at İsmail’s pansiyon in Olgunlar where there’s not much need for a car. We skied directly from the doorstep of the pansiyon for six days in a row.
Semra, Seb, and I took the dolmuş from Erzurum to Yusufeli where İsmail was waiting for us with his 4×4 pickup and his youngest son, Alparslan. Semra was excited to be in Olgunlar in the winter for the first time.
Semra hasn’t been skiing long, but she’s strong and joined Seb and me on the first day for the ~1000m climb up to nearby Kanucar Geçidi (a pass).
As usual the snow got better as we got higher. It had snowed 50-60cm a couple days before we arrived.
Seb did a quick column test that showed a (surprisingly stable) sliding layer at 50cm, just about the amount of the last snowfall.
Another surprise was that the snow was quite good all the way to the village.
That ended up being Semra’s last day of skiing as she learned that the boots that she was using (for only the second time) were definitely not going to work for her. Sounds familiar to my Kaçkar trip last year.
The following day was our longest ski day because I wanted good weather to climb the mountain north of Olgunlar and ski down and out via Satelef Yaylası, Körahmet, and Karamolla. It ended up being an excellent choice as that was the best weather day of our six days in Olgunlar. Seb gushed that it was one of his best days of ski touring ever. He also spent a lot of energy talking about how endless the initial 1000m climb was.
Here he is, finally cresting the ridge.
The rewards were almost instant.
Like the day before, the snow was good all the way to the valley bottom.
It was flatter and longer than I remembered to get out of that valley, but the scenery is good, and Körahmet is a nice looking village.
The bad news, as you can see in the above photo, was that the road was plowed as far as Karamolla which meant that at the end of the day we had 3km of walking instead 3km of pretty quick downhill skiing.
Under these conditions, if you have a car, another way to do this tour would be drive to Karamolla and do an out-and-back tour from there.
The wind came the next day. We skied up the second drainage above Olgunlar into the valley below the sunny ridge on the left in this photo.
Initially the climb is steep, but the views are good.
The halos were particularly vibrant, colorful, and continuous in the morning.
Up and down.
The wind had mucked up the snow up high, likely increasing the avalanche danger. A forest day made sense. Seb wanted a rest day so I headed out with a couple other guys staying at the pansiyon, Görkem from İstanbul
and Marius, a snowboarder from Braşov.
The snow was really good through the forest all way down to Yaylalar.
The next day Görkem, Seb, and I spent hours skinning slowly up the Dibe Yaylası drainage on windblown crust.
I tried taking off my boots near the top in an unsuccessful attempt to reach the ridge. The “snow” was simply too hard.
Perhaps the best thing about this day was the beer to celebrate surviving the treacherous conditions uninjured.
Clearly the choice for the next day (our last) was to head back to the forest.
Hard to believe, but I think I had the best turns of the week this day.
Except for the missing section of our route straight south from Olgunlar, I did a pretty good job of recording our tracks this week.
Bye, bye mountains. We’re back in Antalya now.
“But what about the car?” you’re wondering. Seb and I had plans for a longer road trip, skiing along the way back from Artvin to Antalya. The mechanics, however, couldn’t find the parts, and the car’s still sitting at the garage in Gümüşhane! Clearly this story isn’t quite over yet.