Georgia on my mind: Aspen locals to give presentation on their ski trip | AspenTimes.com

Georgia on my mind: Aspen locals to give presentation on their ski trip

First descents, possibly illegal border crossings into Russia and plenty of Chacha — a questionable Georgian alcohol — made for a one-of-a-kind ski trip for a group of Aspen locals this past spring.

Wanting to share this experience with the community, members of that crew will give a free presentation on their time in the European country at 5:30 p.m. Sunday at the Limelight Hotel in Aspen. The talk will include a film screening of "Georgia on my mind" and a Q&A session afterward. Local photographer Devin Pool, who was among the 14 to make the journey, will also present a slideshow of his photographs.

"It was my first time doing a trip like that where I didn't know a lot of people and we were going in on this adventure together," said Aspen's Laura Hadar, a former competitive snowboarder. "It seems pretty unexplored, especially in the winter zones."

Georgia is a small country situated between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea in Eastern Europe. It shares a southern border with Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Up north, on the other side of the great Caucasus Mountain range, is Russia. The Russian city of Sochi, which hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics, is situated on the Black Sea, only a short drive from the Georgian border.

It was the Caucasus Mountains that drew the Aspen crew to Georgia. With numerous peaks rising 16,000 feet above sea level and little infrastructure, it's largely unexplored territory.

"It's been on my mind for a long time now," Aspen's Jordan White said. "The Caucasus range is not necessarily on a lot of people's radar because Russians don't ski that much. They climb a lot but they don't ski, so you don't see a lot of footage. But then you get there and you are like, 'Wow.' There are just mountains everywhere. And they make the Rockies look tiny."

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The group, which included local professional skier Colter Hinchliffe, among others, spent roughly two weeks in the country, with others, like White, staying a touch longer. The size of the group actually kept costs low, and it was a trip that was about much more than just bagging big peaks.

From a cultural standpoint, Georgia provides plenty for the rare tourist. The birthplace of Joseph Stalin and one of the birthplaces of wine, the little-known country has a bit of everything, from modern Tbilisi, Georgia's capital, to the barely-touched wilds of the Caucasus Mountains.

"Get a big group, keep your costs low, and then hire someone who actually knows what is going on," Hadar suggested. "This trip wasn't solely mountaineer or skiing focused. We definitely had the tourist experience, which was pretty cool, too. I think it was a lot of stuff we wouldn't have taken the time to set up, but somebody else did."

acolbert@aspentimes.com

Georgia on my mind

What: A free film screening and presentation about a recent ski trip to the country of Georgia by a group of Aspen locals

When: Sunday, Dec. 16, at 5:30 p.m.

Where: Limelight Hotel in Aspen

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