snow of Palandöken has a will of its own. Gathering
up a handful, I pressed and turned it to form
a ball, but it was hopeless. Powder snow was
certainly not the stuff for making snowballs,
but as I was to discover is the perfect surface
for skiing. The mountain air here is low in
humidity and the snow is dry. Skis skim over
the powder snow, and even through it when fresh.
Although there are other reasons to come to
Palandöken, skiing and more skiing is what it
is really all about. Erzurum Airport is a five-minute
drive from the city and 15 minutes from the
ski resort. So you can be out on the snow three
hours after leaving Istanbul if you are too
impatient to unpack. Palandöken rises to an
altitude of 3176 metres at the summit, and its
ski runs are among the longest in the world.
Seven of the twenty runs are beginner grade,
eight intermediate, and two advanced. The remaining
four are natural. One of the most agreeable
things is that skiers of all levels go to the
top together, set out in different directions,
and meet again at the bottom.