Yōtei-san

This iconic mountain looks like a mini Fuji. I had always seen Yōtei-san in the background of ski movies and in ski magazine pictures. I thought there were actual ski resorts on the mountain itself, but it is actually free from any of that. I cannot imagine how nice it must be at the top admiring the surrounding mountains before dropping in to the valley below!

Yōtei-san

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Zümrüt Resort

Mt. Erciyes is a bit of a weird resort compared to what I am use to in the States. Each group of chairlifts and rope tows are owned by different people, so even though you can see 5 or 6 lifts nearby, you have to choose which one or two that you would like to ride and pay for a pass that is only good for a specific lift or two. Doppelmayr! How I have missed you!

Doppelmayr

I was having a lot of fun skiing for the 2nd time in 7 years. Last year I felt like a disaster, but this year was different for some reason. I think it might be the kebabs and sahlep? Anyways, I didn’t care to get my camera equipment until near the end of the day, so it was getting pretty dark by the time I started to shoot. You can also kind of see the runs that were pretty much 50/50 rock snow, not the pure snow like found on the K-12, but.. If something gets in your way, turn.

Evening Freeze

For the last run I locked my 50mm on and loaded my SB-600 and tried to get some shots of my friends as they were trying to breakout of beaterdom. It would have been nice to have my 70-200 to get in a bit closer, but I was a little weary of breaking my leg on a rock, smashing my head into the dirt, and having 50 pounds of camera reconstruct my face. Here is Dean showing me the dangers I speak of.

Truth

I can’t even see his upper body in this shot!

Shredding the Gnar

Erciyes Dağı Yeni Yıl

Took a little New Years break ski trip up north to Mt. Erciyes, a big 3,916 metre stratovolcano that can be seen from Cappadocia. When we arrived at night, it was extremely bright out due to the full moon, which I hear was a blue moon. Me and one of my friends eschewed the New Years festivities at the deluxe hotel that we had booked and decided to enjoy the blisteringly cold night air with our cameras.

Erciyes Dağı

I pulled out my handy LED key chain light to graffiti the mountain with a New Years declaration about some girl I know named Amber who should have been there to partake in the lovely wind chill with her husband!

New Years Declaration

These long exposures were really fun to play around with my flash as well. Me and my friend would hold my SB-600 flash and fire off the test flash a couple of times at each other while strategically hiding the flash unit from view of the camera to create some neat effects. Too bad my retarded ass kept moving around between flashes so that I look like a fragmented apparition!

Erciyes Dağı-2980

Combined, neither me or my friend had enough common sense to at least dress up warm enough to stay out in the cold for very long, a damn shame because the views were simply amazing. After about an hour and a half, our tennis shoes became the weakest link and we had to quick pack everything up and head back to a warm car to try and regain feeling in our feet. While packing up we noticed our gear was extremely frosted over.

D90 Stress Test

Modern gear is pretty damn awesome though; it all kept working so well, we had no idea it was all coated with frost until I happened to shine my LED on it. I think we were too preoccupied running in place and hopping around in circles like Indians for warmth! We headed out again the following night since this night was so amazing, but the 2nd time was so windy that we could not steady our tripods enough to take any sharp shots with such long exposures. I guess I’ll just have to go back again!

Frosty the Tripod

Beaters

Before I joined the Air Force my life evolved around 2 things: skiing and skiing. I grew up for 10 years at a ski resort and after graduating high school I proceeded to work at resorts as a bit of a ski bum for 5 more years. Skiing literally was my life, the reason I hated summer time and the only thing I thought about.

I ended up joining the AF mostly because I needed to find a way to break the cycle and start working on school so I could start the grind towards retirement so I could finally ski again, except not being in my prime.. It didn’t make sense, but I did it anyways and ended up meeting my amazing wife and finding my love for traveling. Anyways, after 6 years of cold turkey, I finally went skiing this week at Nozawa Onsen; possibly the most humbling day I have ever had.

Nozawa Onsen

I still thought a lot about skiing in my mind because I am weird like that and still go through powder withdrawals, so I thought I would not have lost too much of my brain cells dedicated to balance, technique, and the “feeling”. Basically, I thought I would step into my skis and take a run or two before I get back to my old self being able to have my way with whatever resort I was at or mountain I had climbed so long as I paid my respects to spatial awareness, inanimate objects, and avalanches. After 15 years of dedication, I thought I had earned as much.

I clicked into my skis after getting my, uhhh, square microchip device that was going to be my lift ticket and took my first kick in 6 years towards the ski lift. I knew after that first kick, a mere couple of feet that I suddenly had become what is known in the inner sanctum of ski bums as.. a beater! I suck at skiing, bad!

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I thought this was like riding a bike, you never forget how to do it. I even severely underestimated the atrophy of my inner core muscles used for balance; I found myself driving from the backseat many times that day; I even felt out of control pointing my skis straight down the fall line of a groomer which used to be my comfort position after a long burner down a mogul run.

At first I despised skiing, tried to blame my ill fitting boots or the tail edges that the ski techs had not beveled off like a good ski tech should do. In the end, I knew I have become the mountains bitch.. the scum of the ski resort.. a beater. Luckily, I retained my knowledge of technique so I was able to help teach my wife since she has been a beater for life as well as reteach myself. I did start to feel much better as I took more runs, but I still think I would be counting in seasons, the amount of time it would take to get back to were I left off if I went back to skiing about 4-5 times a week. Good thing I found traveling and photography I guess! Maybe when we move to Germany we will be close enough to a resort to get back into it. I have about 2 years for the knowledge that I am a beater to set in before that time. /end rant.