Sandwiched between Russia to the north, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan to the south and bordering the Black Sea to the west, Georgia and its 4.5 million inhabitants are a melting pot of culture. ARC rider Anderl Zissler packed his bags and his Morning Split splitboard last winter and headed east to Georgia to experience Georgia’s diverse and unique culture and catch some lines in the mighty and almost untapped Caucasus Mountains which rise beyond 5000m (16,400ft) into high alpine Glacier coated terrain. We fired a few questions at Anderl to satisfy our curiosity.
What was the mission objective?
The "plan" was just to do another spontaneous splitboard-trip to a place we don't know at all and discover the country, its culture and mountains!
This trip was to Georgia, the last shred mission was to Kosovo? Why do you travel to such exotic locations to snowboard?
When you go to well-known places you already have a picture of it and of course high expectations to the conditions and your performance there. By choosing a destination you have just a vague prospect you can be surprised in a really good way! This makes the whole thing way more spontaneous which affects my riding positively.
There are plenty of mountain ranges with ski lifts off the beaten track, why splitboard?
I think my fascination for Splitboarding is the different approach to snowboarding. Not the competititve, performance-oriented one you easily adopt in the park or on the slopes. Having maybe just one run a day you have to work hard for, you really enjoy every single turn you do! It helps getting the feeling back we all had when we started snowboarding or skiing (and which was the reason we got hooked on it!): The feeling of carving, the weird, distinctive sound of snow compressing and displacing underneath your board or the awareness of endless possibility on just one single flank of a hill.
How did you get there?
We went by plane from Munich to Istanbul to Tiflis, from there we travelled with Marschrutkas (local minibuses) and even Taxi was affordable for our small budget. With all the roads covered with snow also the splitboard was an important means of transportation.
What was the terrain and the snow conditions like in Georgia?
The terrain is just amazing! It seems like everything is double the size to the European Alps with steep, long runs for as far as the eye could see in high altitude.
With the snow we were lucky because there was a snowfall just as we arrived. Due to the low temperatures and good wind conditions we could ride that perfect powder all trip long!
Did you stay at one location or travel around?
After spending a day in the beautiful capitol city Tiflis we went to Gudauri, the most popular ski-resort in Georgia. It was fun riding fresh snow without hiking. The following days we did some trips to a few mountains nearby. The second stop was an isolated small village in the mountains with just 17 villagers. It was a three-hour hike on a tiny sketchy path with half a meter fresh snow on it to get there.
It was definitely the highlight of the trip arriving there and how we were received by a family there for the next couple of days! It was a perfect start base for great splitboard-tours with amazing runs! At the end it was quite hard to leave, but we had to get back. We stayed for one night in the town Kazbegi and celebrated our amazing days out there and went back to Tiflis the following day.
What was the budget for this trip?
The budget was about 500 Euros including the flight. Unfortunately I bust the budget by my own mistake. I booked the flight back home on the wrong date, so all in all it was 700 Euros.
Did you see any other skiers or snowboarders when you were in Georgia?
Surprisingly we met plenty of well-equipped good riders at our first stop in Gudauri, to be honest it wasn’t very different to European ski resorts. However, off the beaten track it looked different of course!
You took a Morning Split to ride, what was it like?
It is an amazing snowboard! Floating even in the deepest snow without any effort and with its small radius and the extremely low weight it is still so playful! I rode it like a normal snowboard, no limitations at all! Also, it’s a very reliable, good working system with the Karakoram clips and the perfect fitting skins! I'm definitely in love with that splitboard!
What were the highlights of your trip?
Surely the stay up there at the families place, the amazing, long runs we did nearby Gudauri, "One night in Kotzbegi", and of course the surprise we had at the airport when we wanted to fly back home and were told our flight was booked for one month later...
Are you planning another adventure for this coming winter?
For sure! No precise plan yet, but maybe we’ll keep heading further East. We'll see! I let you know!
Read the full report from Anderl's splitboarding trip to Kosovo Here: ARC Travel - Splitboarding in Kosovo