Skiing the Kaçkar with Seb

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's from Artvin (Şavşat), but it was her first time in Olgunlar in the winter. by bryandkeith on flickr

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).

IMG_20210220_084752 by bryandkeith on flickr
Olgunlar
IMG_20210220_094037 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210220_094857 by bryandkeith on flickr

As usual the snow got better as we got higher. It had snowed 50-60cm a couple days before we arrived.

IMG_20210220_105556 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210220_111128_31 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210220_125955 by bryandkeith on flickr
Kanucar Geçidi

Seb did a quick column test that showed a (surprisingly stable) sliding layer at 50cm, just about the amount of the last snowfall.

Seb did a quick column test. by bryandkeith on flickr

Another surprise was that the snow was quite good all the way to the village.

IMG_20210220_160420 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210220_161126 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210220_161659 by bryandkeith on flickr

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.

IMG_20210221_101435 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210221_104406 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210221_102827 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210221_112942 by bryandkeith on flickr

Here he is, finally cresting the ridge.

IMG_20210221_131047 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210221_120220 by bryandkeith on flickr

The rewards were almost instant.

IMG_20210221_132657 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210221_132935 by bryandkeith on flickr

Like the day before, the snow was good all the way to the valley bottom.

IMG_20210221_135512 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210221_140524 by bryandkeith on flickr

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.

IMG_20210221_151259 by bryandkeith on flickr
Körahmet
IMG_20210221_151356 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210221_154828 by bryandkeith on flickr
Karamolla

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.

IMG_20210222_083757 by bryandkeith on flickr

Initially the climb is steep, but the views are good.

IMG_20210222_095402 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210222_101324 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210222_102750 by bryandkeith on flickr

The halos were particularly vibrant, colorful, and continuous in the morning.

Is it a snowbow?  We saw a lot of these phenomena this day. by bryandkeith on flickr

Up and down.

IMG_20210222_132914 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210222_135127 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_7035 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210222_151601 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210222_155337 by bryandkeith on flickr

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

IMG_20210223_115738 by bryandkeith on flickr

and Marius, a snowboarder from Braşov.

IMG_20210223_120545 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210223_134753 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210223_135755 by bryandkeith on flickr

The snow was really good through the forest all way down to Yaylalar.

IMG_20210223_144003 by bryandkeith on flickr

The next day Görkem, Seb, and I spent hours skinning slowly up the Dibe Yaylası drainage on windblown crust.

IMG_20210224_093031 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210224_115932 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210224_140015 by bryandkeith on flickr

I tried taking off my boots near the top in an unsuccessful attempt to reach the ridge. The “snow” was simply too hard.

signal-2021-02-24-184532 by bryandkeith on flickr

Perhaps the best thing about this day was the beer to celebrate surviving the treacherous conditions uninjured.

Seb, Bryan, Görkem by bryandkeith on flickr

Clearly the choice for the next day (our last) was to head back to the forest.

IMG_20210225_100023 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210225_133722 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210225_133726 by bryandkeith on flickr

Hard to believe, but I think I had the best turns of the week this day.

IMG_20210225_140826 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20210225_151714 by bryandkeith on flickr

Except for the missing section of our route straight south from Olgunlar, I did a pretty good job of recording our tracks this week.

ka%C3%A7kar_skiing_202102 by bryandkeith on flickr

Bye, bye mountains. We’re back in Antalya now.

IMG_20210225_145504 by bryandkeith on flickr

“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.

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3 Responses to Skiing the Kaçkar with Seb

  1. Jennie & Derek Werner says:

    Beautiful photos–just gorgeous!

  2. Karl Thompson says:

    So glad you nailed it. Much better snow conditions in Kackar.
    Some of those peaks look like they could have some nice spring couloirs.

  3. Mike Painter says:

    Wow! What a great time!

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