Like in the Alps and Caucasus, the snow conditions were poor in Armenia as well during past winter months. In Aspen though, where I spent skiing and teaching for the ski school there, it was a decent early season and very good snow throughout the season. Then came the long awaited March to guide for ski touring in Armenia.
Shifting between the Aspen and Armenian realities was something hectic: packing my luggage at night after the last day of teaching, returning my uniform to wardrobe in the morning, traveling to Boulder, and then to the Denver airport to take my flight.. The mountain guide reality continued with no jet lag recovery, because I had to drive back to Zvartnots International airport again the next night at 2am to meet my guests from Switzerland.
Narek, the Armenian friend of mine, who lives in Switzerland now, with his wife Catherine had put together a ski touring trip in Armenia for their friends. While meeting them in the airport I tried to hide my fatigue, being cheerful and welcoming as much as I could, I found myself confused asking questions to another party of skiers from Switzerland standing around us, guessing that I'm talking to my guests.
- Mkhitar, do you remember me, I'm Steffen, Steffen Kruse - said one of them. - We have been climbing together with my girlfriend in Armenia, and you were our guide. I think it was ten years ago or so..!
Trying to recover memories about Steffen digging in my foggy head, all I could find there at the moment was a pink jacket..
- Oh yeah Steffen, I remember you, a pink jacket, Caro was wearing a pink jacket! - I blurted it out, proud of my achievement, yet I was quite a bit embarrassed indeed..
Obviously it wasn't what Steffen was expecting me to remember from our climbing together, anyways we were excited for this interesting coincidence after so many years. Steffen was here with his friends for ski touring in Armenia, and later we spent a few more evenings in Yeghegis valley staying in the same hotel.
Steffen is running the POWDERGUIDE.COM now, and he kindly offered me to write an article that he could post in their website for promoting Armenia. Not sure if he would be happy to post this one, and I doubt if I can do a better job than this though..
Back to our program, my guests from Switzerland were tolerating the bad weather and wet snow conditions with great honor, for some days it made it so easy for the me to choose between shity skiing and wandering around the village, they were approving it both with smile and gratitude!
Antoine Grospiron-Jaccoux from Chamonix, my dear friend and companion of chevalier ski trips, was the next person I met in the airport. Within the next two weeks we found windows to make another ski tours on Mt. Aragats, with exceptionally good weather and snow conditions for that mountain! It's an exposed massive and typically very windy from December to March. We had another party with us from Chamonix, 4 girls (originally a group of 7, but 3 of them fled after waiting for a weather few days). Together on Aragats we were hoping for the stars to align to do my other project, which was skiing one of the steep couloirs of West summit, but the signs of mother nature did not approve that..
And the season ends up as usual, skiing with my local buddies, who I always try to encourage and push to become better and do more. A lot of snow on Mt. Aragats still, probably I will post some more before we start shifting completely to rock climbing!