A report about the 2011 Erciyes Snowkite Festival in Turkey.
Report : Erciyes Snowkite Festival Turkey 2011 march 10-13 #1 TURKEY THE ERCIYES VOLCANO. As we did it last winter, Chasta and me, were going once again to these amazing mountains right in the center of Turkey, the Erciyes ridge, for three days of incredible snowkiting sessions. Just back from the USA last evening after three unforgettable weeks there, were having our plane flight on a 2011 sunny spring morning to the turkish mountains. That means near to twelve hours jetlag. Straight. For this trip, Chasta is travelling with wife Titaua and 11 years old daughter Kailea, both top snowkiters. Well meet on our arrival in Turkey the Ozone international pro-kiter Marek Zach from Czech Republic. Were all invited by the Turkey Ozone distributor Murat Bukey whos organizing this five days journey. With some facebook messages, Murat already said that the snowpack is really higher this winter in Erciyes. Cool news though. Last winter, weve been introduced by Murat to the Erciyes ski resort head-manager. We were thinking about a meeting as normal courtesy but actually Memet the head-manager here was conscientiously keeping in mind our feeling and advices about the best snowkiting areas 2 and wind directions around the resort and during this last summer time he has organized the spreading out of the new chairlifts to the opposite side of our best snowkiting spots here. What an incredible cool attitude. Memet explained while welcoming us this year that this part of the resort will remain exclusively dedicated for snowkiting. Memet as well would like that every winter we have here a special snowkiting event and here we are, for the first issue of the Erciyes Snowkiting Festival. So, we can understand that the snowkiting sport is growing up here in Turkey. Although we mainly meet kiters coming from the best turkish kitesurfing beaches. Turkey has really great and beautiful mountains. Here, the Erciyes are right in the center of the country. They are not the highest ones which are mainly in the northern part, on the eastern boarder with the Caucasus, where is the Mount Ararat higher than 5.000 m. Here, in the Erciyes, we are not so far from the Cappadoce country with the famous wonderful troglodyte houses in white rock cones. The mountains around look like high hills excepted some of them, as the Erciyes 3 volcano, really impressive, that we can see from our bedroom through the window. This volcano is the dream of our friend Chasta who plans to reach the top while snowkiting, then freeriding down with the kite in the back-pack, all along the vertical slopes which are going straight to the Erciyes resort. From our hotel, the ACE Hotel, we can see the way up to follow on the left part of the volcano and once at the top, we can see as well the impressive vertical snow channels between the cliffs. North-east wind is needed to reach the top but last year we got only south-west wind so we never managed to climb up with the kites more than the first quarter of the mountain. So, this challenge remains our main goal this winter. The Erciyes mountains are not impossible to travel from France. Definitely not as far as Alaska or New-Zealand. The flight tickets, the transferts, all is possible for a passionated snowkiter. Direct flights from St Etienne, the arrival airport is Kayseri, on million people, only twenty minutes driving to the Erciyes resort. Well, twenty minutes, thats the normal timing... For our arrival in a snowy afternoon, the snow storm is blowing hard the Erciyes, and well have big deal to reach the resort. Damned. The cars will stay stucked in big windlips of fresh powder snow on the road two kilometers before the resort. Well end as hiking up in deep snow, by night, carrying our snow-bag, with the snowstorm raging hard. We could complain after such situation, but on an other side all this snow is a really good thing for our further snowkiting session on next days. This strong wind blowing hard will build for us 4 really nice natural snow shapes, perfect for kiting and great pictures. And above all, Murat keep a strong enthousiasm, he was so excited to show the perfect snow conditions in his ski resort, everybody was hiking in good mood. Reaching the Ace hotel was a so great moment. Super comfortable, warm, exactly on time for dinner !!! For our first session the day after, still some light clouds, all slopes covered of white, a few parts of fog, gentle south-west breeze. Our hotel is directly on the slopes, in front of the chairlifts, we go for the session right after breakfast. We launch the kite immediately beside the hotel, and lets go, dozens and dozens of kilometers with fresh powder snow in front of us. Without any track. So, for this first session, like we did last year, were going straight to the volcano. We hope to reach the summit with the kites. Chasta, Marek, and me. We start in the fog with cool wind and we think that the blue sky is not far. The wind direction at the hotel is not good for the volcano, south-west, and we can see some huge snow sprays at the top pushed by a strong wind. Not so easy to see exactly the wind direction upthere, but we already can understand that it wont be easy to reach the top with such strong wind blowing. And like we did last winter, we had to give up about at the middle of the mountain. First we went to the bottom of the really big vertical slopes we plan to go down freeriding. This is the normal way before turning left and climbing up by the north-east face on 40� slopes to the top. But once on the north-east face, its completely under wind and impossible to keep on climbing with the kites. Like we did last winter, well have to change plans and go to the other cool mountains around for really long snowkiting sessions. Every day well try to climb the volcano, but the south-west wind will stay stable and strong all along the week here. Well, no worries, we are lucky anyway to go to the mountains on the northern part of the resort. The snowpack is definitely incredible if we think about the not so high elevation here. Near to 1.200m but more than one meter snowpack, covered by 30-50 fresh powder snow from the last snow-storm. Everybody now is kiting his own track, his own option, cruising through this awsome white ocean. Chasta stays with his family, sometimes towing Kailea with a rope when the slope is too difficult, then launching her 6m Access kite when the snowfields are easier. Titau stays kiting with them and we can feel how cool it must be to go cruising such wide landscapes with the family. Marek is seaching his own terrain, especially some smooth snow cliffs for endless flights against the light and stable wind. Marek �Murphy� Zach 5 Starting in front of the hotel. Chasta, front 720 road-gap. Titaua, back 720 tailgrab. I try to go kiting with them and landing my kites sometimes to make some video clips. And Im learning at the moment how to fly as well, really close to the snow, never high, with complete security, so Im looking for perfect places for me with gentle slopes covered by 50-80cm of powder right in front of the wind which is here as stable as at the seaside. Were following our own feeling, looking for outstanding landscapes, along a fox track on the snow, our view floating above the ridges around. Were going for our longest runs, with cool flights, freestyle tricks when meeting natural kickers, cruising with the wind, having a stop for sandwich, then photos-sessions, road-gaps for Chasta and Marek, stop for tea from the back-pack, cruising again to the top of the hills, again and again during all the day. Well, even with the short days in winter, launching the kites near 10 am and keeping kiting in the mountains untill the sunset near 6 pm, that is really great snowkiting sessions. Keep in mind that Chasta and Marek are top freestylers and go for extreme strong newschool tricks when meeting every natural shape on our way. At the end, with all the kilometers, the elevation done up and Kailea 6 Volkan Gunel. VOLKITE school. down, these special hard snowkiting days are ending with an indeterminate feeling of tiredness close to the sensation of being drunk. When we pack our kite just in front of the hotel, the first stars start to shine in the sky which seems to be a dark blue ink. The girls went back sooner, already had the tea time and now gone to bed in front of the TV. We only have time to pack our stuff, make the kites drying along the corridor to our rooms, taking warm shower, we are ready for the dinner. The conversation turn around the volcano, may be for next day, we never know, but mainly around the amazing snowfields we went all the day long, the landscapes we crossed, the wind which is always so stable here during all day even if we can feel a short moment off about midday. After the first morning, we had all the time great blue sky, and unfortunately the south-west wind will keep blowing untill we leave. So, no volcano this year once again. Now here comes sunday. Which is our last day here. The day for the snowkiting event organised by Murat. The Erciyes Snowkiting Festival. Marek 7 Chasta is the supervisor, and will propose the best competition scheddule depending of the wind conditions. For sure well have a free-session meeting for all kiters, freestyle demo by Chasta and Marek on a big kicker in front of the skilifts, snowkiting free-courses by the turkish kiting school Volkite, and a friendly competition which will be a Race, the most easier way to be sure that everybody will be able to participate the contest, and without waiting our turn to compete all the afternoon like it is during the freestyle competitions. Chasta will decide the points to be turned around during the Race. We are immediately impressed by all the kiters coming from very different parts of the turkish country. And a lot more impressed by the people coming to the resort for a cool sunny sunday. One million citizens in Kaiseri only twenty minutes far from the resort, that brings for sure lot of people who make the skilifts and slopes really crowded. There will be a traditionnal show by the turkish musicians Marek Zach, from Czech Republic, exploring the Erciyes volcano. 8 9 from the army. Very nice. And as well a young turkish guys RAP and R&B live band. Super atmosphere. Very big BBQ. All that with a super nice blue sky but... no wind at all. Murat is near to fall dead. A such good week for snowkiting and suddenly, the wind stops exactly when the event starts. It was blowing this morning, but stops now at noon. Poor Murat. He spents so much time and efforts to organize and spread out the information for long monthes to make this snowkiting event a great show and party. Luckily, a 1-3 knots gentle breeze is blowing sometimes, so Chasta and Marek manage to go up for fifty meters and take enough speed to the kicker and make really great moves surrounded by a very lot of people and local photographers from the newspapers. Im not really sure that the people understand how its hard to land properly like Marek and Chasta do it, all the extreme tricks like all handle-pass, switch 720 rodeo, all unhooked moves, raileys, KGB, Slim-Chance. It doesnt matter as the spectators make huuge applauses and clappings for each extreme trick from our gunners under a so perfect blue sky of march. After 15pm, Murat decides to cancell the competition, unfortunately. The special area for snowkiting beginners allows a few of them to give a first try with the 13m Frenzy. The head-manager Memet makes his first real one hundred run towed by the kite. Memet has been a member of the international turkish ski competition team and we can see it immediately. Memet apologizes to us because he has to leave for important buziness meeting down-town, but we try instead to find the most warm words to thank him for this unforgettable journey he offered to us in these amazing Erciyes mountains. At the end of afternoon, when all people was gone down to the valley, after lot of endless goodbyes from the turkish kiters, the wind comes back blowing... What a pity for the event. But what a real luck for us. As we stay one night more at the hotel in the resort now empty, we can go for our last session through the mountains around. This is a sunset session, to the top of the hills, in a pink light typical of the winter, the sky is near to be turquoise blue, and some part of violet fog is coming 10 Here is Titaua, Chasta's wife. She is coming from our hotel, we can see it in the center of the resort in the background. Titaua is an international level kiter but, look, what a perfect place for beginners here !!! We can launch the kites just in front of the Ace Hotel and all the wide snowfields around are good to have your first try with a kite. Once you manage to go cruising safely, you can explore the huuge snowkiting area that Erciyes mountains offer for snowkiting. Titaua from the valley. The wind is getting stronger, still from south-west, blowing lot of snow sprays, really cold, this last session will be the most magical one we had for long years. Sometimes life brings us such moments with a simple happyness, so perfect, really massive that our heart cant keep it completely, we are here, floating on the powder with icy air, special colors around, looking at this day which is going away. Our last run is ending by dark night near the highlights of the hotel. Tomorrow we have our plane at the Kayseri airport at 8am. How could we thank Murat for his such perfect organisation, so warm friendly moments, really comfortable place, special good meal all the time, best snowkiting 11 areas we can hope for performance and pleasure, all these magical hours we had about our snowkiting passion. Chasta, Marek, and me, we are so privileged kiters but we spent during these five days a so unforgettable journey in the heart of Turkey that we cant expect better in the life. At the airport on the early monday morning, Marek leaves with a plane for the Czech Republic. Murat will drive long hours to the Adriatic sea with his car. The goodbyes are really warm, with a Youll be back, said all this dream is ending once of sadness as Murat, to console us all.obviously. 12 During the sunday Erciyes Festival, Chasta and Marek managed to give a freestyle show with only 3knots gentle breeze. Bigup Chasta and Marek !!! After a while, the photographers understood that they'd rather to keep aside upwind :-) Thats right, weve got an appointment with the volcano, at the summit. This giant mountain will end by welcoming us at the top if he sees that we are so passionated. For sure. Well see that all during the next issue of the 2012 Erciyes Snowkiting Festival. END 13 THE 2011 ERCIYES KIS FESTIVAL TURKEY 15 Here, Titaua is joining us, coming straight from our hotel, two kilometers down on our left. Look at all these beautiful windlips. The wind is blowing from our left here, it's so easy to go everywhere on the slopes around. This is real freeriding and obviously we can understand that no avalanch can happen on such terrain. Which other skiing sport give you so amazing possibilities ? 16 Zero avalanche risk 17 Real freeriding 18 Snowkiting is mainly a pure freeriding sport. The very good kiters sometimes are flying, or jumping for freestyle moves. That is what you'll see on 99% of magazine pictures. But actually 99% of the kiters are cruising on fresh powder snow !!! Freeriding is the dream of every skiier or snowboarder. That's we're going for with a kite. Look a this picture, Chasta can go freeriding everywhere on these endless snowfields. No high level is needed. It's only about pleasure. This fresh powder snow will stay for lot of days. In the ski resorts, no more powder left two hours after the first chairlilft open. That's what it is. 19 Ultimate chairlift Snowkiting is the only one sport which allows you to go skiing everywhere you want on snow. Just need wind. Going uphill, crossing snowfields, riding down, always with the kite. Again and again. No skipass, no waiting time at the chairlift, now crowded slopes. You find your own track. Here, Chasta is towing his daughter Kailea who only wanted skiing today. They are cruising together at the bottom of the volcano. So, once at the top of this gentle slope, Kailea will go skiing downhill and Chasta will tow her again for a next run. They come straight from the hotel down the valley. They will go back easy as well after the session here. 20 21 I found this natural snow-wave above and immediately wanted to charge it. Nice run by the way. See our hotel in the background. Mareck, railey. Chasta flying this cliff with a 360 mute grab. The wind is coming from his back... King Chasta ! 22 That was a so perfect moment in Erciyes for Marek, Chasta, Titaua, Kailea and me. THANK YOU so much mister Murat BUKEY. 23 More snowkiting infos at : www.boulgakow.com www.flyozone.com Want to see this report as video movie ? Check out White Kite News channel at Vimeo. Want to go to Erciyes ? Fly to Kayseri. Turkey. Then 20mn taxi to Ace Hotel in Erciyes ski resort. More infos at : www.alwayswindy.com Erciyes ski resort : www.erciyes-zumrut.com For daily snowkiting infos, join the White Kite News group :-) For this Erciyes report, photos, story, design : Pascal Boulgakoff Many thanks to Andy Banks Design for his help :-) 24 25