11 November 2009


It was a simple plan: go sport climbing with Danny.
Not a bad plan on the face of it but Danny had been distracted from his bouldering trip for a few months and I haven't done much sport climbing (my last sport trip was to Kalymnos in 2005). So I wasn't certain how the trip was going to pan out. I shouldn't have worried, it was a memorable couple of weeks in a cool location with good people.

The first hitch was what kit to bring? As it turned out I needed to take a rope, two harnesses, all of the quickdraws and some chalk. In addition to the climbing gear we had decided to camp so I also needed a tent, mat and sleeping bag. All of this kit meant my one checked bag weighed exactly the allowed 20Kg, but only if I took the draws on as hand luggage! Surprisingly I got them through the x-ray at Heathrow but then got stopped at Istanbul. As I unpacked for the Turkish security the double bagged climbing chalk grabbed the attention of the guard and as he delicately lifted the bag high in to the air with his finger tips a look of disbelief crossed his face. I'm not sure that laughing helped my cause but the photo of the climber on the bag was enough to get me on to the plane. I did have to check in my bag of quickdraws and chalk though which meant a delay at Antalya getting my bags from different reclaim areas.

After the bag delay finding Danny reclining in the middle of the floor of the empty terminal was a good moment partly because the trip had been arranged from France by text the week before. A 40 lira taxi in to Antalya, a 30 lira pension then some Efes and Raki resulted in a super late start the following day (the Kaleici (old town) is a good place with some nice cafe/bars in the maze of small streets, it's also a fantastic place to hide a pension in the dark). Now we were ready to get to the climbing campsite, a perfectly timed 2 lira Gozleme, Ayran and lots of staggering about in the sun with heavy bags lead us to the conclusion that getting to the climbing in Geyikbayiri (carefully pronounced GAYkBAYR) was not going to be easy. Dannys Turkish speaking was awesomely good but mainly extended to buying tasty food and the problem was Geyikbayiri was miles away across the other side of town from the airport. Randomly the barber who cut Dannys beard!!? was able to drive us up to the campsite for 50 lira but only after we sat around on stools in the street for ages drinking ├žay.

There were slabs, walls, tufas, overhangs and some short routes but mainly longer single pitches. From the small number of routes that I tried the slabs seemed to be super sharp pocketed limestone and it was the tufas and overhanging pocketed routes that saw most of the attention from visiting climbers.

The view west along Sarkit

The Unknown Climber probably on Pusht Bush 7b+

Saxafon 6b+

Retsa 6c

When we were there at the start of November the weather was variable, some days it was blazing hot in the sun and the only place to get any shade was the north facing crag Trebenna, if it rains Trebenna is steep and also sheltered from the rain. This was a good crag but it gets busy and feels claustrophobic after a time. During our visit it rained a couple of times and a couple of days were very humid, not ideal for sending hard routes. Some Brits who were out the same time of year in 2008 said that they had five days of rain in a ten day trip. Generally though we had no problem getting out and climbing whenever we wanted and the quality of routes was excellent.

Transport, Food etc
There are two campsites close to the climbing: The Climbers Garden and Josito.

The Climbers Garden (bottom left) with Trebenna centre right

The Climbers Garden is the smaller of the two and I think slightly cheaper for chalets. There is a well equipped kitchen available for use.

Josito is the all inclusive option as breakfast, lunch and dinner can be brought (stoves can also be hired).

The local butcher is set up outside The Climbers Garden and he sells a few meals, snacks and beer. Alternatively the restaurant up the road is very nice with good food (15 lira ea.), fish ponds and tables sheltered by vines, no beer here as they are religious. Down near the market in Akdamlar (Sat and Sun only) are brilliant cafes set in the trees where we ate slap up breakfasts of gozleme with all the trimmings for 10 lira ea. Awesome.

Fresh fruit and veg can be brought at the market (oranges, onions, tomatoes, peppers were all 1 lira/Kg (or 2 lira if you are carrying an expensive looking camera)) Rice about 4 lira/Kg. The bus goes to Migros if you want nicer cheese. Cars can be hired at the campsite for 25€/day.

The pazar

All of the locals we met were friendly and hitching lifts and catching busses is sort of easy but a bit time consuming (when I left I luckily got back to the airport for under 10 lira). Learning some Turkish is very useful. We heard a story about some people paying stupid money for breakfast and the prices at the market seemed a bit variable but then the thieves at Orange will be ripping me off just for looking at my mobile when I'm not in the uk - same same.

Neptune 7b 1st rp. Geyikbayiri Games 7b+ 2nd rp. Sucker Punched 7a. No Money No Dance 7c flash. Freedom is a Battle (1st lower Off) 7a. Rattlesnake Saloon 7b 1st rp. Ahtapot 7a. Dragonfly 7a.

Hopefully I will return to Turkey for longer next time......

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