Matterhorn preps: Sivri Dağı Ridge Traverse

When I first bicycled into Antalya about four years ago with Kurt, we both commented on the incredible mountain ridges near the city.  It looked like great scrambling to us.  Well, Sivri Dağı has one of those ridges.  I’ve been up Sivri Dağı a number of times by a number of different routes and climbed some trad routes lower down on the NE face of the mountain, but I’ve only done this great traverse once.  It’s the best non-technical route I’ve done on the mountain.  We did use the rope for a couple rappels on our descent route.  Does that then make it technical?!

DSCN7407 by bryandkeith on flickr
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Climbing in Kapıkaya, Isparta

The Isparta Valiliği (the provincial government in Isparta) has supported some alternative tourism projects in the province.  In 2014 bolting for sport climbing routes started in the area around the ruined Hellenistic city of Kapıkaya.  The old city is beautifully situated in a natural amphitheatre surrounded on three sides by high cliffs.  It’s at about 1400m elevation, making it reasonable to climb in summer when Geyikbayırı and Antalya are roasting (it’s 42°C here today in Antalya, and I was just climbing in Kapıkaya two days ago).

DSC04971 by bryandkeith on flickr
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Crampon practice on Alabelen

Ferda wanted to get out and try using crampons for the first time.  Cemalettin and I thought Alabelen would be a good mountain for a little practice.  It’s easy, short, not-too-steep, and had enough snow (at least up high) at the end of December to enable a short crampon course.  Ferda did a great job with the crampons.  She avoided stabbing her leg, her pants, Cemalettin, me, or anything else that we prefer to avoid with crampons.  One look at the legs of my snow pants and you can see that I’m not always so successful.

DSCN8104 by bryandkeith on flickr
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A long weekend in Adana and Hatay

Ferda’s cousin, Tülin, lives in Antakya, and Ferda had a few days off work so we made last minute plans to visit Adana and Hatay.  This area is one of the most densely populated in Turkey.  It is also ethnically, religiously, and linguistically diverse.  Being part of the Fertile Crescent there are lots of old sites, and if you’re into Biblical history, well, there’s a lot for you, too.  Oh, finally, some Turks visit Adana just for the food, and Hatay’s cuisine is heavily influenced by Syria, making it a bit different from what’s found in the rest of Turkey.

Reflecting on the weekend we had a rather diverse range of experiences in a short amount of time.  Some sites we visited include a 3000-year-old early civilization site (at Atçana), a 900m Roman tunnel used to keep Antioch’s port from silting up (the Vespasianus Titus Tunnel at Seleucia Pieria, a UNESCO World Heritage Site), a well-preserved Mimar Sinan (Ottoman era) kevrvansaray/hamam/castle/mosque complex in Payas, a 19th century Catholic Church in Antakya, and Turkey’s largest mosque, a modern building in Adana.  Unfortunately Antakya’s new Archaeology Museum wasn’t open yet when we were there, and the Church of St. Peter was closed for restoration.  We had a fantastic Adana kebab in Adana, Antakya’s famous künefe in Antakya, and some great meals with Tülin’s friends in Reyhanlı and Samandağ.  Tülin’s friends in Samandağ speak Arabic at home and make their own rakı.  Go figure.

Let’s see if I can find some photos.  Adana’s Sabancı Merkez Mosque:

Sabancı Merkez Camii by bryandkeith on flickr
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Another quick taste of İstanbul

I’ve lost track of how times I’ve visited İstanbul, but there’s definitely still more to see.  The goal of this quick weekend trip was to visit Ferda’s brother and his wife, Bektaş and Seda, before they moved to İzmir.  I think they really convinced us to come by saying we’d go out for Thai food one day, something we can’t find in Antalya.  However, that didn’t happen, the reason being they live so far from the center.  I certainly understand the reluctance to drive two hours for a meal, but I don’t understand why anyone would want to live in İstanbul and yet be so far from any of the things that make the city an interesting place to be.  Perhaps that’s why they’ve moved to İzmir.

I did get to spend a full day in the historic center before taking a 90-minute bus ride west to Bektaş and Seda’s house.  I had taken an overnight bus to İstanbul and started the day with a ferry across the Bosporus to get from the Asian side to the European side.

DSCN7394 by bryandkeith on flickr
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