Thursday, February 11, 2016

Climbing in turkey




We met in Istanbul. It was a cold but cheerful reunion. We hadn’t seen each other for months and we had planned this trip over two quick phone calls. Roxanne & I had come over from Myanmar.  We had decided together that Myanmar would be a spiritual trip, a trip to discover Buddhism at its fullest. Jonathan was working a nine to five job in Montreal and was more than stoked to quit when he heard that we were on our way to Turkey for a climbing trip. The three of us had climbed together in many places including Canada, China and Thailand. 


Roxanne and Joe are both very talented climbers, but beyond the talent they are the most amazing friends I have. It was pure joy for the three of us to regroup in such a blissful background. Istanbul Is for me a mix of flavors and colors. You can’t go wrong visiting this city. The oldest covered market in the world will hypnotize you with its array of spices. The Aya Sophia Mosque dating back to the 4th century gives you the impression you have teleported back in time. At night you can feel the streets transform. They become more alive than you would ever imagine. The Istanbullus sure love their drink! We sure loved to drink with them!
Some of the old greek ruins around Antalya!

The time spent in the capital felt short which surely confirmed the fun we had. But nothing could prepare us for our rock-climbing destination: Antalya! We took the shity night bus in order to save money from flying. Man, I couldn’t wait to get off that bus! Impatient to reach the cliffs as we arrived, we jumped right into a small dolmuch (local bus) heading towards the hills of Geyik Baiyiri 25 kilometers away. Since so few people travel through the villages, you need to hitch-hike the last portion of road up the hills. Surely, these small communities never would have thought they’d see a foreigner walk by until everything changed in 2001. A few climbers turned the place into a climbing wonder world.

From Kezbans camp
The area provides 4 different types of guest houses/ campgrounds for climbers only. We stayed at Kezban’s which is run by a friendly local and his girlfriend. In Geyik Bayiri, you can climb over 700 routes and there is still potential to develop many more! You can find routes from 4c to 8c on the same wall.The climbing is on superb limestone rock, with many features such as slabs and faces with small crimps to bomber overhanging tufas and roofs. A 70 meter rope is recommended for most climbs.

We spent a month living in our tent next to other climbers that were mostly French, Polish or Russian.  I always marvel at how strong the Europeans can climb. This one friend we made had cigarettes and beer as his main diet and still managed to climb 8b’s (5.13d). We climbed most week days. Sundays were the ideal rest days as it is market day in the neighbouring village. The majority of climbers hitch a ride down to stock up on food provisions for the week! The food is always awesome.

One of our favourite crags is called Trebena. This area is mostly sheltered from the rain and has some of the craziest rock formations. We all got to tick some projects there since it was always dry. My favourite route there was ‘’sucker punched’’ an awesome 7a (5.11d)  line that finishes in the 7c (5.12d) grade.



 

To get the real feel of climbing in Antalya its worth driving down the coast to Olympos. This is the real Turkish hippie town. Located near the ocean, Olympos has gorgeous beaches, ruins and tree houses to sleep in. One of the crags in this area bears the name of ‘’heaven’’ in turkish. It’s an amazing vertical slab with a few pockets placed perfectly as you make your way up. The routes there are all mostly in the 5.11/5.12 area which was perfect for us.

During our stay in Geyik there was an issue with some mining companies trying to get permission to dig up the crags. After heated discussions between climbers and miners, the climbers got the final word and saved Geyik! My concern is how long will it be until the mining industries come back. To anyone travelling to Turkey please try to get informed and make sure to offer a helping hand if needed. This place is truly beautiful and we want to make sure we keep it that way!

Lots of love,
Vincent