Turkey is a relatively recent arrival on the map of world climbing. In less than a decade, this remarkable country has taken on a new and exciting position in the lexicon of exotic rock, with the development of several key areas along the Mediterranean coast. The most extensively developed Turkish sport climbing is found close to the city of Antalya, at Geyikbayiri (a picturesque valley in the foothills of the Bey Daglairi mountains) and at Olympos, a beautiful coastal area in the Bey Daglari National Park, where a series of limestone cliffs overlook a spectacular beach. Around three hundred kilometres west of Antalya, just to the north of Bodrum and Milas, a lunar granite boulder-field extends for miles along the northern shore of Bafa Golu (Lake Bafa), harbouring a Bishop-sized array of outstanding problems.
Istanbul, the great city spanning the narrow stretch of water separating Europe and Asia, has frequently been described as ‘the gateway to the East’. There is a strange irony in this, since Turkey’s largest and most cosmopolitan city is also its most European. Yet the collision of continents that can be found almost everywhere in southern and western Turkey might also reflect the astonishing diversity and scope of its rock climbing. Here, you’ll find boulders reminiscent of California or Karnataka, soaring sport pitches on colossal tufa-encrusted walls to rival the best in Spain or Greece, and even – if you look a little further east – massive walls in the Ala Daglar mountains that have recently revealed their potential for adventurous alpine sport climbing.
In this exclusive photographic essay, Fred Moix, Fred Rouling and Dave Pickford celebrate the magnificent bouldering and sport climbing of southern Turkey.
Bafa Golu: Fred Moix jams the perfect five-metre crack "Breathe". Photo by Fred Rouhling
Bafa Golu: Fred Rouhling finds a problem that perfectly suits his style and grabs the first ascent of project 'Imkanzis' ('impossible' in Turkish). Photo by Fred Moix.
Bafa Golu: golden granite and blue water. Ekin Akman finds perfect friction on the lake's edge. Photo by Fred Moix
Bafa Golu: Fred Moix relishing the atmosphere of the ruins of Herakleia, where Christian hermits took refuge from 8th- century Arab invasions, on an easy slab. Photo by Fred Rouhling
Bafa Golu: Fred Moix exploring unclimbed boulders. Photo by Fred Rouling
Fred Rouling bouldering above the beach at Akyarlar, north of Olympos. Photo: Fred Moix
Bafa Golu: Fred Rouling puts his legendary finger-strength to good use on 'Moon Safari', a desperate arete. Photo by Fred Moix
Akyarlar: Fred Rouling sets out on horizontal adventures. Photo by Fred Moix
Bafa Golu: the end of another perfect day among the boulders.
Photo: Fred Moix
Midwinter in Geyikabyiri: the valley is full of limestone cliffs, only a handful of which have been developed so far. Photo by Dave Pickford
Geyikbayiri: Sarah Garnett high above the pines on the huge (40m) arete pitch of 'Sado Mazo' (6c). Photo by Dave Pickford
A climber grapples with the technical, tufa-pinching crux of the superb classic 'Geyikbayiri Games' (7b+) at Sarkit. Photo by Dave Pickford
...and clocks up some post-crux airtime!
Mumin Karabas embarking on the crux sequence of one of Turkey's finest hard sport pitches: 'Sarpedon' (8b+), Trebenna West. Photo by Dave Pickford
Top Turkish climber Serkan 'Seko' Ercan on the lip of the huge roof-pitch 'Perseus' in the Left Cave at Geyikbayiri. Photo by Dave Pickford
The rope hangs from 'Ikarus' (8a+) at Trebenna West after the final redpoint of the day, as a full moon rises over the valley.
Photo by Dave Pickford
- all photographs copyright Fred Moix, Fred Rouling and Dave Pickford, 2009 -
For more on the sport climbing at Geyikbayiri, read Matt Heason’s article ‘Turkish Delight’ here.
Click here to read Mike Robertson’s exclusive photographic essay about deep water soloing in southern Turkey on planetFear.
Climbing In Southern Turkey: Useful Information
Weather and Climate:
This is perhaps the most important single consideration before planning a trip to the region. To put it simply, unless you enjoy trying to pull on crimps in thirty-degree heat, only come here in winter (Nov – March). For deep water soloing on the coast, late spring (April / May) and early autumn (Oct / Nov) is better. For the Ala Daglar mountains, the season is completely different: this is a high alpine region, so climbing begins on the lower crags in April – May and continues until October. In winter, there is some superb ski touring.
What To Bring:
For a sport climbing trip to the Antalya area, a normal rack of twenty quickdraws, plus a seventy-metre rope, is sufficient. Some routes at Geyikbayiri require an 80 metre line to reach the ground in a single lower off, however. For Bafa Golu, bring crashpads and a good assortment of brushes. Pads can be borrowed or hired locally, but don’t rely on this. For Ala Daglar, a full alpine rock climbing rack plus twin 60 metre ropes will be required.
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