BD athlete Tor Eggebø reports on ski trip to Turkey and Iran
Black Diamond athlete Tor Eggebø went on a wild ski adventure that took him to some countries less-than-well-known for their ski locales. Below is his report and photos that he sent in shortly after returning to Norway.
This is the story about five Norwegians who tried to go skiing in Kashmir, India, but went to Turkey and ended up in Iran instead. Inshallah!
As some of us are living in Switzerland the whole winter, applying for a visa for India in the embassy in Oslo, Norway is not a very easy thing to do from abroad. Nevertheless, our friends in Norway going with us to India did not get their visas either, and as we found this out only two days before leaving for Kashmir, we had to do some really fast maneuvers. Unfortunately, this gave us less time for research...
Skiing in the eastern part of Turkey is supposed to be good. There is a heli skiing resort in Ayder with choppers of course, but also nice backcountry skiing for us not so rich freeriders. Last reports that told of a significant snow base were from late January/early February and we decided to go! After arriving in Ayder we soon found out that the last week’s warm weather had reduced the snow base to less than a meter, and according to the forecast for the next week it was supposed to be above zero degrees all the way to the summits raging more than 3000-meters high!
Now what?! Let´s go to Istanbul, see some mosques, smoke some water pipes and do some more planning....
[The Turks have a beautiful mantra: No problem!]
Prior to the Iranian revolution in 1979, the Shah put up quite a few proper ski resorts in the mountainous parts of Iran, and some of them are rather near to the Turkish eastern border. After the revolution, the Ayatollah and his priests luckily let these resorts be, and stated on a big sign at the bottom station of one of them, something like this: "Skiing is good for your body and mind, and I agree with it.” We totally agree as well, and after seeing the snow forecasts for Iran and its best resort Shemshak, we decided to go. Inshallah...
This time we called the areas, asking for the conditions, and the embassy asking if it was safe and if we could get a visa on the airport in Teheran. OK to everything, and our new favorite airline Turkish Airlines gave us more tickets to ride. Happy to get there, and happy to receive visas we thought we where ready for some serious skiing. Just one more thing... No one told us that western credit-and debit cards like Visa and MasterCard had recently been banned! A major set back for us since I was the only one with dollars, but a really helpful taxi driver drove us all around the capital for no less than a day before we finally got lucky. A bank let us withdraw dollars (the fee remains our secret) and we could finally go skiing! Insallah.
[The resort behind us... exclamation marks all over!]
Three of us had already been to Iran skiing, six and seven years ago, and we where stoked to be back! Shemshak has two really old chair lifts and two T-bar lifts, and a difference in elevation of 600 meters from top to bottom. If you are willing to hike for 10 minutes a ridge with some really nice chutes awaits. Snow was OK when we got there, and we where lucky to receive three medium dumps before we went home. All bad memories from previous problems got deleted while skiing fresh Persian powder, and our ad hoc Eurasian trip ended really well in the end!
[All photos by Jarl Eirik Lilleheil].