Yes, I survived my ski trip, despite some close calls.
I don't know why I haven't written in such a long time. Blogging is one of those things that the more you wait to do it, the more painful it is to get started again and the more it nags at you--or that's how it is for me, anyway.
My ski trip to Gudauri was everything I had hoped for and then some. Not only did I get to spend 6 days among the breathtaking mountains of the Caucasus, but I also learned to ski and begin to ski well. My first day of "skiing" wasn't so hot. Not even close to being ready to take the 1st lift, I hiked 100 feet up from the base where there was enough slope to pick up speed. Like all beginners, I started off with the "snow plow" or "wedge" technique of slowing down. Yet as simple as it looked, I couldn't keep myself from not accelerating and slamming into and knocking down my instructor (who didn't speak English by the way, not that that really matters for me anymore)--and that's when I was lucky not to go. Somehow, by the 5th try I was successful in hitting my instructor with less force, and by the 7th or so, I could stop on my own. I returned to the ski lodge quite proud.
The next day, a bus load of teenagers arrived at my lodge (a ski school, actually), most of whom had never skied before either. While my instructor was teaching the group the snow plow technique, I showed off my stopping skills. Seeing myself to be the best among the beginners, I thought that this meant I was ready to take the lift and actually ski. So I did, without even asking the instructors permission. Bad idea. At least I went with a friend who was patient enough to wait for me to get up after I fell every 100 feet. And he was a witness to my not-so-short time in the air which resulted in me landing about 30 feet away from my skis. I repeated the first slope 4 more times and returned to the lodge grateful that falling doesn't hurt.
On the third day, it was decided that it would be best if an instructor accompanied me on the slope. Immediately, he noticed my problem (I was always turning with my right ski instead of leading with the inside ski) and I corrected it. My skiing improved dramatically and by the end of the day, I skiied the 2nd slope. The next 3 days of skiing were just bliss. I couldn't get enough of the adrenaline rush and the sensation of flying as I zipped by.
And the best part of the trip was the cost: only 40 lari ($25) per night for bed, 3 meals/day, skis, transportation from Tbilisi and instruction. Only the ski lift wasn't included (25 laris for a day pass). Sure it was noisy at times with 20+ teenagers and the beds weren't the most comfy, but I couldn't complain.
I'm planning on making another trip up there sometime in February.