On the slopes of Mt. Davraz in Isparta the snow looks like a white door to the sky. And when you open that door, you are enveloped in crystal...
The darkness of night opens with a purple curtain. Morning on Mt. Davraz then turns pink, orange and finally white, as snow crystals glitter in a gigantic bowl formed by the surrounding mountains. A fox sniffs at the footprints of a rabbit that hopped by not long before, and on the wide, snowy road an SUV strains uphill with skis tied to its roof. A rain of light falls on the mountain, on the rocks about to be wiped clean with a white eraser, on the snow-laden trees, and against the windows of the icicled hotel. You squint and reach in your pocket for the sunglasses as the skiiers in all their colors head for the lifts. Mt. Davraz stands like a calm, white murmur beneath the sun, whereas on my first trip here, last year, I had been greeted by a snowstorm. And what a storm it was! A terrific blizzard had kept everyone prisoner in the hotel.
When it stopped snowing two days later and shoveling had cleared the doorway, we all had quite a time finding our cars. And getting them out from under the snow that had buried them... But now the snow is doing its best to look white and stainless. Touching the snow-branched trees on the slopes, the light makes blue shadows on the pristine whiteness. At such moments you want to forget about the cold and walk plunging through the snow. And then lie face up on it to take in the perfectly blue, crystallized sky...
26 kilometers from the city of Isparta, the Davraz Ski Resort welcomes large crowds, especially on the weekends. Some come all the way from Ankara to ski, others from nearby Burdur to satisfy their curiosity. There are those who come from Isparta just to have sucuk (Turkish sausage) and bread, and those who come from Antalya to snowboard. Children scream with excitement as they sled, while high up in the Kiryaylasi cafe hot salep when you’re cold goes down the throat like a balm.
At the hour when fog and haze disperse I stand by the Zirve (Summit) cafe to look towards the horizon, and seem to meet the gaze of a great blue eye in all that blanket of white! This is Lake Egirdir, of which I am so fond.
FROM PISTE TO PISTE
Rising between Lakes Egirdir and Kovada, Davraz is one of the mountains surrounding the Isparta Plain, and has for company such other major mountains as Mt. Gelincik (Mt. Barla), 2,808 meters, The Dipoyraz Peak of the Dedegöl range, 3,007 meters, and the Gelincikana Peak of the Sultan range, 2,612 meters. The skiing slopes of Mt. Davraz boast a view of the lake, and some of them are for advanced skiers, but beginners have not been forgotten as there are two baby lifts. The chair-lift with its double seats starts at 1,674 meters and carries you to 1,961 meters. With a capacity of 268 and a length of 1,211 meters, this chair-lift carries 1,000 people per hour. It gives such a marvelous view that not only skiiers but also mere guests are eager to make the ride.
Below them skiers skim down the slopes, as tenderfeet try to show their stuff for the ski instructors. There’s also a 624-meter T-Bar from 1,961 to 2,100 meters, but as yet no carrying system between this upper point and the start of the T-Bar. The highest point of Mt. Davraz is the Ulparcukuru Hill at 2,635 meters. The mountain’s pistes are suitable for every sort of snow activity from the northern and Alpine disciplines to cross-country skiing and snowboarding. There is only one hotel on the mountain, but the construction of new facilities is under way. And the hotels in the city of Isparta, like those on the shore of Lake Egirdir, are accustomed to putting up winter guests.
THE SNOW FESTIVAL
In terms of snow quality, Davraz competes with Sarikamiş and Palandoken. Actually this is not really a competition, as each region has its own version of white beauty. On starry nights the snow crystals glisten enchantingly in the light from the hotel, and in the late afternoon the mountains turn into giant masses of pink candy.
You can watch the snowboarders flipping through the air, see the mountains reflected in sunglasses, and enjoy the sight of raw beginners skiing with their mixture of fear and joy, and screaming as they go. And what luck if you happen to be there during the Snow Festival, when skiers glide down the slopes at night holding torches, university students create frozen art as they do fascinating sculptures in snow, and there are various ski races to take in. If you go with friends you can join in the fun by making a snow statue to become ‘Snow Sculptors.’ But if you want it to turn out well, be sure to design and draw it ahead of time!
Those who plan to stay on Mt. Davraz for more than just a few days may want to make trips to the city of Isparta and the outlying townships. In the city you can visit the Isparta Museum, and in Aksu see the Zindan Cave, while fish eaten at a restaurant on the shore of Lake Egirdir will transport you from the atmosphere of the mountains to that of a lake.
With its young mountains, this region of the Lake District is not only suitable for cross-country skiing, but is also a splendid place for mountaineering, spelunking, rock climbing and water sports. As for transportation, you can fly to Antalya and go from there to Isparta by bus or rented car. The Davraz Ski Resort is 154 kilometers from Antalya, and the Provincial Culture and Tourism Directorate of the Isparta Governor’s Office will be glad to provide information to anyone wishing to go. For information call (0246) 223 27 98.
TEXT: AKGUN AKOVA
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in the lap of the snow Davraz
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