Uludag : skiing in Turkey

18 Mar

To the question : « What are you gonna do in Turkey ? », people usually don’t expect you to answer : « Well, skiing of course ! ». They’re wrong. Turkey has everything it needs. Mountain, snow… That being said, today there’s only six stations in the country and only one is like the ones you can find in western Europe. The others are more like in the ones we used to have in the 30’s. I’ve been lucky enough to discover a place not that far from Istanbul called Uludag. The resort has only 22 kilometers of slopes but a great potential.

Arriving there, I wasn’t disappointed. The mountain is great, the sun is shining and the terrace’s speakers are screaming the same kind of random western pop music that you can ear everywhere else. Slopes were calling me ! Time to get a skipass. The closest place to get one seemed to be a small caban, not much bigger than some kind of mobile toilet. The old man inside gave me a card in exchange of 20 TL (10 euros). I also asked him if I could get a map of the slopes but he didn’t understood what I was referring to. Anyway, happy with what seemed like a good deal to me, here I was, climbing the Turkish mountain for the first time.

Long story short, what I didn’t know then is that each hotel owns its own equipment and its own slopes. So if you want to go higher or to discover different slopes, you have to stop at each ski lift to buy a new card. I made some quick research and, apparently that’s the way every old European ski resort used to work before. But I have to admit, it’s pretty annoying. First, you don’t know in advance how much you’re gonna pay for each lift, difficult in that case to plan a budget for the practice of your favorite sport. And second, having a lot of different card is not very practical. You have to remember which one is the good one before every lift, look for it, don’t try to use one you already used…

Conclusion : When government, regions, cities… anyway, someone, will decide to invest in those mountains, Turkey will be THE place to ski. Some experts apparently qualified the quality of the snow as “exceptional”. Meanwhile, to enjoy it completely and not bother with those multiple ski pass, go to the east. Palendöken, resort located close to Erzurum (the city where Ataturk proclaimed the Turkish republic) is ideal. And, for the record, that’s also where the University winter game will take place.

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