It was one of those mornings; where I wake up and well, I’m not doing my best. So I spend too much time on facebook, and then more time working and all of this mixed with meditation here and there. I barely make it in time for breakfast downstairs, in that draub and uncomfortable atmosphere. The people here at the hotel are rude, all of them except Lisa who works 24 hr shifts at the hotel reception. Can you imagine doing 24 hr shifts? who the fuck thought that was a good idea? I don’t know. She looks like shit at the end of them, non functionnal. Crazy. Anyhow somehow she manages, she’s become quite nice to me after all this time spent here in New Gudauri AppartHotel.
(There is an action video down there!)
Actually, I think this particular morning I did get up, and it was probably the 9th super sunny day in a row. Renaud was leaving for Kazbegi in the afternoon and I wanted to go paragliding with him. I love flying, it is a shame that I didn’t bring the paraglider here. The day before I was explaining to Renaud who is mildly afraid of heights that the fear of heights doesn’t apply when flying. I always ask: Are you afraid of heights when flying in an airplane?. To which obviously people answer that’s not the same. Surprisingly it is. Fear of heights disappear as soon as you start flying, it is as if another part of the brain was activated the minute your feet leave the ground. And indeed, after the flight he confirmed: It is like you said, once I took off the fear went away. In fact the fear is replaced by pure amazement. Simple!
Are you afraid of heights when flying in an airplane?
It is like you said, once I took off the fear went away
After the paragliding flight, during which I took pictures and footage, I did manage to take proper pictures of the south face I skied a few days prior; I went back to my room and meditated then worked. And finally at around 2pm I got off my ass and decided, let’s go ski the west facing side.
And so I left the room, all geared up with a firm intention of skiing the west side of Gudauri. Where the military road to russia runs, and is at least 25% covered by tunnels. Apparently there are a lot of avalanches there normally; also quite expansive terrain to discover.
I took the three usual lifts up, got to the summit of mount Sazdele, skied down some nice pow staring at the north face of mount bidada. Man I want to ski that. THAT. The best snow is there for sure. ok, so let’s skin up to the ridge, then hike up Bidara. I’d never put skis on this particular backpack, and honestly it’s not ideal but it did the job. On the way up I crossed a couple of ukranians, the girl snowboarding and the guy skiing. They were struggling a big, or at least she was. There was a lot of rocks, very little snow; too much exposed to sun and wind to gather snow. About halfway up I noticed two other guys heading for the summit, these were skinning up, wow. That’s cool. I was hoping they’d wait for me, they were much closer to the summit.
I was in one of those moods where I feel like everything is possible; I just want to enjoy myself and have a killer time and drag people along the adventurous spirit. And so I did meet, at the summit, the two Austrian guys, and since we were there might as well ski down this beautiful north face with tons of great snow, right? I mean I have no idea how to get back, hitchhiking probably. It took no time to convince these two, they were quite keen; even after spotting a couloir to go down the west side. I mean this west side is so vast, it won’t go anywhere. Right?
Just before heading down I felt, in my usual fashion of clarity and transparence, like re-iterating the fact that I have no fixed plan on coming back to Gudauri when we get down there. To which Florian said, I understand, don’t worry we’ll find a way. I like this guy!
I understand, don’t worry we’ll find a way
And so we went down. I was really tired from the hike, I had no energy these days due to some spiritual work. I was a bit nervous, it is a steep run. I filmed Florian going down, there was a tiny cornice and then steep terrain, the snow left the face quickly to reveal rocks underneath. I went in second, took forever to put on my skis, I was clumzy; then once into it I realized I hadn’t switched one of the bindings back to “downhill” mode. ugh. Weird feeling. My edges caught rock slabs too underneath the puffy snow. The snow was of great quality, there were no tracks ahead of us, and down we went! Amazing!
A few days earlier I had dug a snow pit close by a few days earlier, and it was very stable snow. 🙂
I filmed Daniel too, twice. We skied down to the flatter part and traversed, staying up on the left ridge all the way to the back, where you see the valley and Mt. Kazbek quite nicely. The weather was perfect, the snow was perfect and these two had a very decent level. We skied down an untracked ravine, fluff was released and followed me for a bit while doing tight turns down a steep part heading into the gully. The snow got firmer on the way down but was manageable. We ended up jumping off one of the tunnel walls, and walked to the road.
There I insisted on walking to a wider part of the road, although my main motivation was showing these guys another way down which was quite impressively steep. Not a long walk, maybe 10 minutes but going in the wrong direction. Some cars came by, we stuck our thumbs out. You can see clearly from here all the way to the closest “village” which is basically maybe 6-7 houses. There were way more cars heading towards Russia than coming from Russia.
Once I showed them the wowing other way day, I decided that the next car WAS picking us up. I took money in my hand, got smack in the middle of the road and started waving funnily as if there was some emergency. A russian van stopped, containing two older women, a man driving, and a bunch of space and a television and other things in the back. The van was big; there was plenty of space for us. They were giggling at my waving which is probably why they stopped. He was a soccer coach, living in Russia; going to Tbilisi for the weekend to visit family. That’s quite a long drive. I tried to have conversation but they didn’t speak english, nor german and we spoke no russian. It is a 30 minute drive back to Gudauri, there is time. I was so fully of happiness to be in this situation; with these strangers I had met at the summit and this soccer coach. His heart was big too, and he wanted to pick up other people by the road. Believe it or not we ended up picking up the couple of Ukranians I’d passed during the hike; and they spoke Russian, and some discussion ensued although most of it out of my reach. Eventually we made it to Gudauri and he dropped us off. On the way I learned the definition of the word: Davaï. Let’s go!
Was a beautiful afternoon. Thank you life.
Feast on the pictures now!