Turkey for Christmas

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Actually we’re in Turkey for New Year, but it doesn’t sound so good. Jake and I flew into Antalya yesterday (30th December) for a week of sun and steep rock. Not much sign of sunshine yet, but no shortage of very steep rock.

We hired a car for the 60 minute drive to Geyikbayri, which is the main centre for the climbing around here. You can get a shuttle service and then walk easily to most of the crags, but for an extra 20 euros the extra flexibility seemed worthwhile. Reading the Rough Guide about Turkish driving had me wondering, and they do have a different take on lane discipline, but we managed to cross the city at rush hour without mishap, and Sally the SatNav was confidentiality predicting arrival in another 30 mins.

Seemingly she knew a shortcut which we followed onto deteriorating roads into a forest. Tarmac turned to dirt and we managed to miss a turning, but Sally quickly found a new way, avoiding the need for a U turn. Dirt turned to mud and after the third stream crossing we arrived here….

Sense finally overcame pride and I made a U turn, finally making it to Geyikbayri about half an hour late. We were met by our host, Helga, who guided us to Kasaromantica – our home for the week.

Helga is German and settled in Turkey with her Turkish husband about 20 years ago. They built Kasaromantica and moved there a few years later and now offer occasional guest accommodation in the high climbing season, when everything else is full, “as a hobby”. Everything is ordered with typical Tutonic efficiency and the place makes a warm and comfortable retreat. We had an excellent supper and then crashed out to recover from the drive!

Today, New Year’s Eve, dawned wet and windy. Unperturbed, we headed for a recce. The crags are simply awesome. More tufa than I’ve seen anywhere else in the world, festooning caves and walls of orange limestone (with a conglomerate texture in places). Despite the lashing rain, a quick sprint up to the crag yielded dry rock and a mostly dry belaying spot.

First route was a tough 6b – we’d been warned that the”warm ups” are hard for the grade. Next an inviting 7a+ with situ clips caught Jake’s eye, so he powered up that. Lowering off he encouraged me to have a go, and to my delight I scraped my way to the lower off 🙂 Chuffed to bits!

Next a 7b+ which Jake despatched in fine style, confirming the beta that it was a really soft touch. He pressed on to attempt the 8a extension and made decent progress, but no cigar. In for a penny…. I set off up the 7b+ and clawed on via ungainly back and foot rests and tenuous tufa pinches, scraping through the crux and to within a move of the 7b+ junction. By now the rain had returned and the wind changed direction, lashing the rock and turning the finishing holds into a water fall. I bailed on the last move 😦 not strictly a 7b+ tick, which would have been my first, but a personal high water mark anyway.

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