TURKEY – 1 WEEK ALL-INCLUSIVE!
Four climbing partners escape winter to a vertical paradise in Turkey where the rock is solid, the days are sunny and the pitches are long. Check out this all-inclusive itinerary to see why their trip was much more than just a week of winter training.
Call it a tour, but this trip was hardly about guided city tours and 5-star hotel residents wearing elastic bands on their wrists. Rather, it was a chance for the four climbers Lulu, Martina, Hias and Coco to get away from it all. Away from the freezing cold winter in Europe and the chalky haze of their native German climbing gyms. Away to soft sunlight, steep sinters and the knowledge that in Antalya there is everything a climber could want – and then some.
To warm up, Lulu hops on Poker Face in the Sarkit Left sector. In keeping with the name of the route, the youngest in the team floats up 22 steep metres without batting an eye. “Not all 7a’s here are like this,” she shouts down after the crux to Hias, who belays virtually in awe. “This is one of the tough ones.”
“I can’t believe it,” Hias shouts back. “At home it’s minus 10 degrees.” A smile comes across his face. With little exception it stays fixed on him for the next week. While the group adjusts to three-dimensional climbing on sinters, runnels and other wild limestone features, a blue sky stretches over them—just another normal occurrence in the southwest of Antalya.
Lulu has unintentionally raised the bar high on their second “warm-up” day by finishing off White Spirit, a 35-metre 7c+. Hias, who has only just begun breaking into the grade, can already feel a world of difference between Turkey’s limestone climbing and the pocket-speckled cliffs of his native Bavaria. “Just pull on the pinch till it’s at shoulder level,” yells Lulu from below as he tries the route. “A bit further! Good, now cross over.” Her commands peter out as Hias pitches off. “Ahh, what a shame!” he says as his weight comes on to the rope. He looks down at Lulu, who rattles off the sequence from her seemingly photographic memory. But something catches his eye.
“Look at that goat!” he calls into the valley. Everybody turns to look in time to see a shaggy creature munching Martina’s banana. They all grin as the thief bleats contentedly and trots off to join the rest of the herd in the soft morning sun.
After two more sunny days filled with hard pitch after hard pitch the group warms up to Tobi’s, one joint owner of the JoSiTo climbing camp, suggestion of a rest day in town. It is Sunday and Sunday is market day in Geyik. The marketplace is at least as colourful as all the climbing nomads back at the camp. Curious wind-blown wooden stalls form an avenue on either side of the main road, forcing drivers to slow down to 20 kph. The aroma of freshly browned almonds, fresh gözleme –thin Turkish pastries– and an indefinable mixture of herbal tea and shisha smoke is exotic and inviting. The boys head straight for the tea tent, while the girls go shopping, fascinated by the endless colourful offerings from street vendors. This is Turkey all-inclusive.
Coco is delighted for another reason. “Hey Tobi,” he says, turning to the resident German and then looking over his shoulder to the west. “Those summits over there look so white they must be skiable, right?”
“Absolutely,” grins Tobi. “And the approach isn’t bad. The forest road above camp takes you directly to Saklikent, the valley station of the Antalya ski area. The peaks go up to 2,600 m. We could bag a couple of touring routes in the afternoon and then take a quick dip in the sea before sundown; there aren’t many places you can do that on this planet.”
“We haven’t brought our skis with us,” says Coco a little disappointed.
Ski touring has to wait for another day but come Monday the group is off to explore a new sector. Klaas, a well-travelled climber from Belgium recommends Güzel Manzara or High Voltage. “The first pitch is a good warm up for what you’ll find on the second,” he grins in the morning sun. 15 minutes later on the rock, Hias – whose English is not the most fluent – understands what Klaas means. “Nice, a 6c to warm up and then a steep 7c+ on the 2nd pitch!” he comments as the pump sets in.
The 2-pitch route could hardly be considered an alpine outing, but hanging over 50 m of air and a 4 m runout, Hias can most certainly feel the exposure. He has to summon up some serious power for the finishing moves, and begins to understand how the route earned its name.
Back on the ground, the group decides that their idea from the day before — a swim in the Mediterranean — might not be such a bad idea after all. A short 50 kilometre drive brings them to the sea where they splash around in the warm water. Not bad for mid-February. Pretty soon someone mentions beer, and they drive back to the camp for a night of festivities and Turkish barley ale. The campground is an international scene, with climbers from Turkey, Norway, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Poland and Germany chatting and clinking glasses.
In the background an iPod plays island tunes. There’s free internet, but no one seems to care. For the moment, the human interface takes precedence. Climbers share stories and laughs, revelling in the instant community of a climber hangout. Hias takes a sip of beer and smiles. “It’s still minus ten at home,” he says with a laugh.
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