Sorry I haven't been able to send you many updates—wireless was a bit spotty but now I think it's solid. We're able to get on our phones up at Sky Resort but it's hard to type a very long e-mail when it's -40 F.
The scene at Sky Resort: picture women with Louis Vuitton purses and spiked heels in the lodge, bitterly cold temps, bright sunshine, great grooming, hipsters skiing in jeans, women skiing with their purses slung over their shoulders, groups of people stopping at the edge of a slope to smoke cigarettes, snowmaking that only needs to be done once in November and once in March because it stays firm for months, and just a couple runs total on a 14-cm base depth. A scene unlike anything in North America.
We're also on a bit of a wild goose chase to find the elusive traditional ancient ski culture. I met a journalist from the UK on the bus up to the resort and it turns out he saw a pair of wooden skis with reindeer skins leaning against a hut of some guy named Gambal (sp) up near Lake Hovsgul, which—lucky for us—is even colder than Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia's capital. It's also where my friend Lisa lived for 2 years with Peace Corps so we get to stay with Mongolian friends of hers (and eat dried sheep-cheese curds, mutton, fermented mare's milk, etc). We're going to track down these skis and the guy who owns them.
The vibe in the country in general is like the Wild West. Tons of new money (a Louis Vuitton store is evidence of this). We are going up to the resort for a few hours today (it doesn't open until 11, then stays open till 10). Tomorrow we fly to Hovsgul and probably won't have interest access for a week. I'll bring my iPhone and if I can get on a network I'll send another update. Then, next Thurs, we'll go up to Sky for "student's day" and stick around for night skiing. More to come. —Evelyn
Evelyn and Ilja's Mongolia feature story will be published next season in a print issue of Skiing Magazine. Get their story—along with gobs of other kick-ass content, in your mailbox or on your tablet—by signing up for a print subscription or an iPad subscription.