Fatma’s been excited about climbing Geyiksivrisi for some time now. We had a date set a couple months ago, but something came up, and we cancelled. This week Barış and Tüğçe invited Fatma, Ferda, and me for dinner, and we made another plan for Geyiksivrisi. Tüğçe was super keen on camping so we decided to go up the night before and camp at Trebenna Antik Kenti. That ended up working really well.
We rented a car and picked up Tüğçe as she got off work Saturday afternoon. We were up at the Trebenna ruins in time to put our tents up and take a quick tour around the city before it got dark. There’s quite a nice view of the cliffs at Geyikbayırı from the outcrop where the ruined city sits. We had some good wine from Foça and a wonderful camp fire.
Kocain Cave is a nice, short excursion from Antalya — a short day trip if you do it by car like I did, but a bit ambitious to do in a day by bike. The route is pleasant with little traffic so it’d be a great route to choose for a bike tour heading north out of Antalya. The cave is a few kms off the paved road above the village of Ahırtaş. The dirt road was rough enough that we choose to walk most of it to get up to the cave itself.
Over four years ago Kurt and I ventured into the stunning mountains SW of Antalya, surprised to find such long climbs and beautiful views. It was a cold week in February. This year in a warm week in March I headed up the same road that Kurt and I had descended and spent a few days exploring the labyrinth of dirt roads in the steep mountains just SW of the city where I’ve spent most of the last four years. It’s still the only bicycle tour I’ve done this year, and I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t even have another one planned at this point.
Two years ago I went with a Turkish AKUT group from Antalya on a descent of Ahmetler Canyon in Akseki, Antalya. A couple weeks ago I joined a mountaineering group from Bursa on a descent of Harmankaya Canyon in Bilecik. Our two guides were AKUT members from Bozüyük. I guess it should be noted that AKUT (Arama Kurtarma Derneği) is really a search and rescue group, not a climbing or mountaineering group. One thing notable about both these canyon descents with AKUT leaders was how slow we went. In Colorado we talk about “speed is safety”. I wonder if that’s something that ever comes across in all the mountain training that the Turks are so keen about. It seems like more Turks take mountaineering courses than actually do any mountaineering.
I first saw Harmankaya Kanyonu from way across the valley when I was bicycling through Bilecik two years ago. There was nothing on my map to indicate a huge canyon was nearby. Seeing it from across the valley, I changed my route to go through Harmanköy and took a full day of riding to cross that valley to get to the bottom of the canyon. There I parked my bike, prepared for a hike in the water of the canyon, found a walking stick to test the water depth, and was able to walk in about two meters before the water was above my head. I wasn’t ready for that, but ever since I’ve been wanting to return and do the Harmankaya Kanyonu descent.
The group we joined came from Bursa. Ferda had been visiting her family in İzmir, and I was in Antalya so we met in Bozüyük and waited for the group from Bursa there. We camped near Harmanköy which really is a great village. The views are incredible, and the locals are very friendly. I felt that my first time in the village, and it’s certainly true. Ferda befriended some of the old women at the fountain, and one of the them ended up inviting Ferda to her house and giving us some fresh cheese. Even with groups coming almost every weekend in the summer to descend the canyon, the villagers still seem genuinely happy and excited that people come to visit. There’s nice camping with fresh water and views of the canyon. Apparently there’s some climbing on the walls at the bottom entrance (exit?) of the canyon.
In Colorado I didn’t worry much about acclimatization. I lived at 1700m, and nothing in Colorado is higher than 4400m (Colorado is high, however; I just learned there are over 500 peaks above 4000m). Sometimes for the hut-to-hut ski trips we’d drive up to 3000m and stay in a hotel the night before the trip. That seemed to be enough to be able to sleep well and not get headaches during the ski trip.
Well, I’ve spent a good portion of the last four years at sea level. Our plan for the Matterhorn was to fly from Antalya to Geneva, leave straightaway for Zermatt, camp at about 3000m, and then go for the summit (about 4500m). Of course, I knew about the emergency shelter at 4000m and knew there might be a chance to spend the night there as well. To me it sounded exactly like the start of the stories we’d hear all the time in Colorado: fly from sea level to Denver, head directly up the ski resort, take the lift the next day up to 3500m, and feel like shit (or worse).
Lacking time to acclimatize for real, the logical thing to do was to spend the night on the top of Tunç Dağı, the prominent peak just west of Antalya. Just a couple days before our flight to Switzerland I tried to persuade my Matterhorn partners to join me. Barış had to work. Hasan and Semra camped at the base and showed up at the summit for breakfast. Only Ferda took the bait, and not for acclimatization since she didn’t attempt the Matterhorn, just for fun…