Feeling the cold snow beneath my feet, it was hard to believe that Erciyes was once an active volcano. The streams of red-hot lava which poured from its crater over the ages formed the soft tuff rock which wind and rain then sculpted into the surrealistic cones of Cappadocia. Coins discovered in excavations of the ancient city of Mazaka at its foot depict flames emerging from its summit. The view of Erciyes from Tekir will be inscribed so deeply in your memory that you will immediately recognize it if you see it again in a film or photograph. Erciyes is a mountain that can never be confused with any other. Erciyes ski resort is located on the alpine pasture of Tekir 30 km from Kayseri Airport and 25 km from the city centre. The Develi road which leads here is kept open by snow clearing teams who wage a constant battle. If you drive here, remember that chains are obligatory. There is only one hotel on Erciyes, and two ski hostels, one belonging to the Department of Physical Education and the other to the State Water Authority.
Erciyes Dedeman Hotel is one of a chain which built some of the first hotels at several Turkish ski resorts. It has 60 rooms, an indoor swimming pool and sauna. You can hire skiing equipment from the hotel, and take lessons from its team of professional instructors. There are also other places to hire skiing equipment in the area, and shops where it can be purchased in Kayseri. Many of those who ski on Erciyes come for the day from this city. Erciyes has several ski slopes suited to skiers of all levels, from beginners through to advanced. The longest slope is 3.5 kilometres, and the total length of all the slopes at the resort is 12 kilometres. There are five ski lifts. Zümrüt 1 is a 1530 metres long chair lift, and Zümrüt 2 is the longest in the region at 1570 metres. The 1500 metre First Lift is the t-bar type, and leads to the Second Lift which takes you a further 1400 metres. At the end points of both the First Lift and Second Lift are cafés where you can warm up with hot drinks and get snacks.
The 3917 metre summit is permanently under snow. Mountaineers begin climbing at Tekir and after passing the first and second stations camp at 2800 metres. From here they continue to the summit, passing through Şeytan Boğazı (the Devil's Pass) where the towering Hörgüç Rock comes into sight. The next stop is the summit, where in fine weather there is a spectacular view across Cappadocia as far as the Toros range to the south. This view makes all the exhaustion of the climb worthwhile. If you have time, spend a day visiting Kayseri. The city's most famous sights are Kayseri Castle, Honat Hatun Mosque and complex, the Archaeological Museum and Keykubatiye Palace.
Kültepe (the ancient Huand), a tumulus 22 kilometres from the city, is a remarkable archaeological site where large numbers of clay tablets have been discovered which throw light on the life of the Assyrians who established a trading colony here.
Sultan Sazlığı marshes is a famous beauty spot and bird sanctuary, home to many species of birds, particularly in spring and autumn when migrant species halt here in large numbers.
The skiing season at Erciyes begins in November and continues through to May. When you leave, you will see the mountain watching you go every time you turn to look back. This elderly volcano which has seen so many people arrive and depart over the millennia will live on in your memory when you reach home.