Monday, February 22, 2010

Ilgaz Ski Resort

I'm slowly expanding the radius of my weekend skiing getaways, resort by resort. Ankara has a couple ski resorts within 3 hours driving time, another within 4, and another within five hours. They also have a teeny-weeny ski hill right outside the city, which we need to check out for off-piste potential. But first it needs to snow more at lower elevations.

Two weekends ago, we visited Ilgaz. It's 3 hours due north of Ankara, just south of the Kure Mountains, and due east of UNESCO World Heritage site, Safranbolu. The terrain is beautiful, less high desert and more Black Sea pine forest topography. The lift tickets were only 20 TL (15 USD) compared to the 90TL tickets at Kartalkaya, and so the cheap fare attracted a different crowd: pedestrians. There were more people standing in the lift line to ride up to the restaurant at the top of the hill than there were skiiers. And, unfortunately, the run is really short, so we'd stand in line for 25 minutes and ski down in a minute and a half. However, we scoped out some nice off-piste potential (an untouched term for Turks resulting in lots of untouched powder). And, of course, it's ALWAYS fun to get out and play in the snow, long lift lines or not.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cross Country Skiing on Behalf of Estonia

Last Sunday, four of us Bilkent teachers boarded a bus to the 2nd Annual Anatolian Cross Country Ski Marathon, although "marathon" should be used loosely, as it was a 5k race. And our bus arrived late, so we totally missed the race, but enjoyed skiing on our own a couple loops on the track.
Afterwards, we enjoyed mulled wine, BBQ chicken sandwiches, music, and bonfires as the snow floated down on our outside party.
The track was near Kartalkaya, the closest ski resort, and home of pine tree forests, a welcome relief from the high desert scrubland.
This whole event including transport, food, alcohol, and rental equipment was free. From my understanding, the Estonian Embassy wants to up the profile of crosscountry skiing as a recreational sport in Turkey, so the local mountaineering clubs as well as the embassy donated everything.

The bus ride took 3 hours, and we were only there for 3 hours before we had to turn around and head back another 3 hours, so more than anything it felt like going for a bus ride to a pretty Winter Wonderland. But it sure did feel good to be back on x/c skis again. I love it as much as teleskiing. But, ssssh, don't tell the tele-wankers. How my friend, Tim, found out about his event, I have no idea.