Sunday, March 29, 2020
The last run of the season, under an increasingly tight lockdown. No police barricades were bypassed when making this video, though. And no people approached closer than the 100 meter social distancing limit.
A nice run though, in my hometown's ski hill in Kauniainen.
Good luck for all of us. Stay safe.
This article has also appeared in TGR. See more Planetskier stories from TGR, Blogspot, and, of course, Planetskier.net! Photos, videos, and text (c) 2020 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved.
Saturday, March 21, 2020
Back in the pre-Covid world, I had order cheap Black Friday for a quick stop in Israel, to collect yet another country for skiing. Yes, you can ski in Israel, at Mount Hermon on the border towards Syria and Lebanon. The trip turned out to be apocalyptic both because of the virus and impending world shutdown, but also because of skiing on an area that was just recently a war zone, and near the borders. Got told by the solders multiple times to not continue further.
A trip to Mount Hermon can take a while, because you will not be the only one going up; there are many tourists going up to see the famed thing, snow! But only few of them are actually going skiing, to the slopes are not crowded. You'll most likely wait an hour in the traffic jams to the mountain, and inside the gates you'll park and board a bus to take you the last few kilometres to the actual ski area.
The ski area is full service; there's cafeterias, ski- and clothes rental, and various activities. Including gondola rides to the top (only for non-skiers) and chair-lift-simulation-rollercoasters. But Tero and I obviously didn't come for those, we came for the skiing!
The skiing on Mount Hermon is concentrated around two main lift lines (map), one two-seater chairlift taking you to the top near the gondola track, and another one on the ridge towards a side valley. From the top you can see the border towards the demilitarised zone. I attempted to ski to the edge of the ridge to see better, but the solders ordered me not to.
The area is also reported to have mines. There's barbed wire outside the slopes in some places, and a prohibition to not ski outside the slopes. We skied outside the slopes, of course :-) The snow was not new, but it was untouched, and we had plenty of fun cruising on the steep slopes under the chairlift to the top.
Didn't hit any mines...
We also found bunkers, abandoned watchtowers, saunas on our trip. And attempted to find caves...
More pictures, first signs and views and skiing:
Locals enjoying snow:
The ski area:
This article has also been published at Teton Gravity Research (TGR). And all skiing articles are of course at Planetskier.net! You can also read all the Planetskier and Planetcaver articles at Blogspot and TGR. Photos, videos, and text (c) 2020 by Jari Arkko and Tero Kivinen. All rights reserved.
Thursday, March 19, 2020
An hour and half from Sofia lies the Prohodna Cave. This is a massive and easy-to-visit cave for everyone, including busloads of tourists. And who wouldn't want to look at the Eyes of God?
I have to say, I was impressed. By the eyes, eye-shaped holes high up in the big chamber. But also by the rest of the cave, just the size of it was bigger than what I had seen anywhere. Not length, it is couple of hundred meters of easy walking, easy for anyone who can walk cobbled city streets. But I was impressed by the size of the opening, and the way that it continued through the cave to the other equally big opening.
I was also impressed by the other caves right next to the other opening. Again, easy to visit, mostly, but smaller and with some formations.
But there's more, in the same area there are plenty of other caves, including two that reside in the walls of canyon, and that were just spectacular both in terms of their stalactites, as well as some of the narrow caving that could be had.
I chose not to follow the smallest tunnel, but others in our Finnish caver's group did. Wow, that was very tight:
The Prohodna cave is at the coordinates N 43.1749 E 24.0741. Read more about the cave from Wikipedia, Atlas Obscura and the Bulgaria Travel Portal. The nearby other caves are plentiful, and it is easy to find more caves. But I will not report on the exact location of the caves we visited, to protect them from extra visitors.
More pictures below. The entrance to the large cave:
Heljä in the spotlight:
Jaana at the entrance of a "small" side cave:
Finnish caving association busy doing research:
In the side caves:
Paul's caving style:
What do you do if you see a scorpion? Stick your fingers next to it, of course:
We also saw a bungee jump:
This article has also appeared at TGR. See more caving stories at planetcaver.net, and all Planetskier and Planetcaver stories at Blogspot and TGR! Photos and text (c) 2019 by Jari Arkko. All rights reserved.
Monday, March 16, 2020
Massive cities carved inside rock towers. Luxury hotels carved inside cliffs. Sometimes a bad weather closure day can lead to interesting other things. I'm glad we got to visit Cappadocia, Turkey.
The others were going skiing early in the morning, but I needed to stay a bit behind to take care of some work and home things from the hotel. But my friends came back, the Erciyes ski area was closed at least for the morning.
By eleven, I was done and we started to look what the situation is. It didn't seem likely that the ski area would open. I proposed to go hiking on one of the nearby hills. But the hotel reception thought skiing on that hill was illegal, and we might be caught by the police. I still thought we should go for that but my sensible friends disagreed.
So we headed to Göreme, situated in Cappadocia, an hour's drive west from where we were in Kayseri.
Cappadocia hosts incredible rock formations, towering pillars. And not only that, because the quality of the rock has enabled them to be carved for shelter, with entire towns living in these carved apartments.
We went to see the Göreme open air museum, which was spectacular, consisting of many living quarters and countless small chapels and churches, all inside rock. And in downtown Göreme, we observed the modern city life among the rock pillars and luxyry hotels. Maybe worth a visit some day, e.g., the Anatolian Houses hotel is housed inside eight fairy chimneys,
Here's my video about it:
And Jarmo's "big stick 360 video":
At the museum:
Towering pillars elsewhere in Cappadocia:
And here's the team, Jarmo, me Jari, Sasha, and Tero:
This article has also been published at Teton Gravity Research (TGR). See more caving stories at planetcaver.net, and see other articles by the planetskier at Blogspot and TGR! Photos, videos, and text (c) 2020 by Jari Arkko, Jarmo Ruuth, Tero Kivinen, and Alexander Krotov. All rights reserved.
Friday, March 13, 2020
Wednesday, March 11, 2020
What a shitty bunker! Literally.
This was a bunker on top of one of the hills in the Mount Hermon ski area. It turns out that I got yelled at by the staff for approaching the bunker. And I didn't even realise they were talking to me over the loadspeakers.
It also appears that doing something with skis is dangerous in the minds of the ski patrol and the military. I got yelled at two times, both times when doing something with skis. But other people went as far as I did, just that they didn't appear to be ready to ski down to the wrong side with skis on and backpacks in the back. I actually negotiated entrance to the bunker by saying that I just wanted to see it, and took off my skis.
The bunker was a simple concrete block construction, with a two-layer sandwich structure at the top. The first room had been used for shitting, the second with more of a view down the hill was full of ice.
See more urban exploration stories at theurbanexplorer.net and underground explorations in planetcaver.net. Photos and text (c) 2020 by Jari Arkko and Tero Kivinen. All rights reserved.