Erciyes Ski Centre is busiest from December-April
Desperately trying to stave off the cold, I zipped up my anorak and buried my head in my hood. Standing alone on top of a mountain might seem romantic in the movies, but it is freezing in real life. Besides, I wasn't really alone. Below me, skiers in Technicolor ski coats flew past to the sound of blaring out-dated music.
The slopes of Erciyes
Emboldened by a ray of sun emerging from the clouds, I sat up straight in my chairlift. The hotel region was barely visible in the far distance. The mountain was covered with literally thousands of people: skiers, picnickers and day-trippers from Kayseri.
At the top of the chair lift, I hopped off and began to ski down the slope to the second lift station. Erciyes' slopes can be split into two main groups. The first three kilometres are flat, long and smooth, making them the best beginners' slopes I've ever seen. Beginners' slopes are usually only a few hundred metres long, so the poor novices have to jump back onto the ski lift just as they are starting to get a hang of skiing.
Compared with the crowds at the base of the mountain, there were only two people ahead of me in line at the second lift. From here, the mountain suddenly becomes very steep. Not many people seemed enamoured with the idea of being 2700m high in mid-winter. I felt like I had been asked to join an elite club.
The "Devil"s Pass' and "Camel Hump Rock"
As I took my seat in the second chair lift, a bitter wind began to blow around me. As a volcanic mountain set in the middle of a plain, Erciyes is completely exposed to the elements. Still, I soon forgot the cold thanks to the breathtaking view. Everything was clean and bright in the crystal clear winter air. The whole of Anatolia seemed to be covered in pure, white snow. Behind me, Kayseri was enveloped in cloud of smog. As I rode up the mountain, I remembered the many times I had struggled to climb up these very same slopes over the past 25 years. The shortest route to the peak is via the 'Devil's Pass' and 'Camel Hump Rock'. However, this can be a dangerous, even deadly path. Suddenly, the chair lift seemed the height of luxury.
Erciyes' crater looks like a giant horseshoe. Not so long ago in geological terms, one side blew away in a giant explosion. I'm glad I wasn't around when it happened...
I had reached the end of my journey. I stepped off the chair lift. A long, straight slope stretched out before me. By now, I was so cold that my mouth started to water as I imagined the feast of bread, sausages and mulled wine that awaited me down at one of the cafes below. I felt like I could eat a horse...
Erciyes has proved itself to be a world-class ski centre. Skiers who haven't skied in Erciyes are missing out on an amazing experience.
Erciyes Ski Centre Guide
Skiing season: The season lasts around 150 days. The skiing is best from December-April. Snow depth: From 50-100 cm. Slopes: You can ski anywhere on Mount Erciyes. The ski centre has 3 slopes. The two intermediate slopes are suitable for beginners. The slopes vary from 10-20 degrees. The third slope is suitable for international racing. It is 2400m and 2970m long with a 30 degree slope. Ski-lifts: The centre has 7 ski lifts, including 4 baby lifts and 3 normal lifts. Cable car-chairlift: There are 2 T-bars. The first is 1450m long and carries 900 people. The second is 1250m long and carries 800. The chairlift is 2250m long and carries 370.
How to get there
There are scheduled flights to Kayseri. There are daily flights from Istanbul at 07.30 and 18.30. There are also daily flights from Izmir and Ankara via Istanbul. THY: 4440849. To get to Erciyes Ski Centre from Kayseri, take a Develi minibus from the Palas stop in the city centre. You can also rent a car at the airport or take a taxi. The centre is about 45 minutes from the airport and 25km from Kayseri city centre. It is easily accessible by road. Just follow the Hisarcık road from the city centre.
Where to stay
The Kayseri Directorate of Tourism tells us that 12 new premises are scheduled to open at the Erciyes Ski Centre. Until then, you can stay at the following hotels: Dedeman Erciyes: The hotel has 56 standard rooms and 4 suites. The hotel provides ski instruction and skiing equipment. Detur offers a package including flight and accommodation at the Erciyes Dedeman throughout the year. Detur Tel: 0212-337 29 00. Erciyes Dedeman Tel: +90 352 342 21 11. www.dedemanhotels.com Grand Eras Hotel: The Grand Eras Hotel opened this year. The 4-star hotel has 55 rooms including 8 suites. The hotel has 1 restaurant, 2 meeting rooms, 1 disco-bar and a swimming pool. The hotel provides skiing equipment and skiing instruction. Tel: +90 352-342 21 28. www.granderashotel.com Ace Hotel: This boutique mountain hotel has 2 suites and 11 standard rooms. The hotel also provides skiing equipment and ski instruction. Enjoy a glass of mulled wine overlooking the ski slopes at The Panorama Cafeteria. Tel: +90 352-342 20 53. www.aceerciyesotel.com
By The Gate Magazine
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Skiing in Erciyes
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