Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Armenia Days Wandering

      Wish I were a better writer. Wish I could express the feelings of the last days skiing in Svaneti. Wish I could describe what it's like to sense the tears welling up in my eyes as I linked turns down the final run of a final day. Wish I could tell you of the fear I felt as electricity pulsed through the air, through my metal ski pole, then through my arm as we escaped down a ridgeline ski in a freak lightning storm days before. I wish I could take a photograph of the emotions I felt standing, watching as Deb arced perfect turns, singing her "Powder River" song, through thousands of feet of sunshine snow. All this and more . . . Good bye Ushguli.
Perfect turns heading home

      What will go down in history as The Four Days War broke out days before our travel to Armenia. A geo-political chess match in the disputed Nagorno-Karabagh state along the Armenia/Azerbijiani border threatened to quash our dream of skiing on Armenia's highest peak- the volcano called Aragats. Despite warnings from the U.S. Department of State, all our inside information told us we would find peace in and around Yerevan, the capital city and the lands surrounding Aragats. And peace we found.
Out the window view of the mountains as we head into Yerevan.

You can get your watch fixed by this man in the Central Park of the capital.

One of many difficult and disturbing images from The Armenian Genocide Memorial.

As we walked past the bakery in Echmiadzen, we were called in, serenaded by the baker and given free bread. I took this photo from above the hot, smokey wood fired oven.

      We spent a few days in the capital organizing our ski trip, visiting some nearby churches and monasteries, and trying unsuccessfully to blend in in an amazingly hip and cosmopolitan city. I was the tallest among the sea of black shorn heads, Deb was certainly the blondest and our ski bum travel clothes felt like rags compared to the chic dress of the locals. Checking out city life is always an adventure for me and I often feel like I could spend endless days wandering, drinking coffee in cafes and people watching.

An Armenian coffee in the central city. My palette is not refined enough to tell the difference between Turkish, Greek or Armenian coffee, but don't tell that to the proud locals!

     After being shut down on Mount Ararat last year in Turkey, due to cloudy hail storms, we watched and waited for our weather window to ski Mount Aragats in Armenia. We surfed the Norwegian weather website constantly for days, hoping that we would get a gift of sunshine that would coincide with Deb's birthday on April 17th.

Praying for good weather!
On the bus home from Echmiadzen.
Lighted candles send prayers in one of the oldest Christian churches in the world. The Geghard Monastery 9 km from the the town of Garni.
      We found our window, found our man, Hovhannes and we're ready for Aragats.


  1. I'm grateful for your blog John! With your pictures no words are missing. Be safe!

  2. Once again, I'm simply speechless! I love the way you write and your pictures are spectacular. You are Deb are true ambassadors and such a positive reflection of America in your travels. Glad you avoided most of the lightening storm and managed to find peace good weather and therefore the ability to ski this amazing mountain. You two both are incredible!!
    Much love,