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

DSC04972 by bryandkeith on flickr

DSC05031 by bryandkeith on flickr

In addition to paying for bolts and supporting a team to put up over 80 pitches of climbing routes in Kapıkaya, the Isparta Valiliği published a guidebook for the area and even a short video.  I guess the idea is to get more tourists to come to the province.  Ironically, however, the book is very difficult to find.  It’s not for sale, and the only thing I could find on the internet was the German version!  However, even that seems to be offline now, so if you want the electronic version send me your e-mail address.

After two friends showed me the video, I was ready to go.  We left Antalya the next day and spent four days climbing in Kapıkaya.  Getting there can be a bit tricky as it’s 10km off the main road and about 3km off the village road.  We hitchhiked from the main road, and our driver, Musa (aka Kraker), was kind enough to take us as far as his car would permit (to the çeşme) which left only a 15 minute walk with our big packs.

DSC04997 by bryandkeith on flickr

There were six of us (three had arrived by car from Ankara).  Tanager from the US and Furkan climb harder routes than the rest of us.  Elif and Oğuz are a couple, I believe, and climbed together.  I climbed mostly with Atılay who doesn’t really want anything harder than VII+ either.  However, I did struggle three times on a VII+/VIII- and twice on an VIII- (perhaps 5.11b in the US system), but I didn’t get either of those cleanly.  Here’s the kind of stuff that Furkan likes to climb:

DSC04986 by bryandkeith on flickr

DSC04996 by bryandkeith on flickr

My favourite route was probably the two-pitch İpek Yolu route, the only route we did in that sector.  The others look very fun as well.  Definitely reasons to go back.  On our last morning Atılay and I woke up about 5am to climb the four-pitch 200m El Kapıdan route (VI) on Ulu Kaya before the sun hit it.  That’s also a climb worth doing again.  I’ll have to take Ferda up it next time.  The route goes to the summit ridge of this buttress:

DSC04967 by bryandkeith on flickr

The traverse at the start of the 2nd pitch of El Kapıdan by bryandkeith on flickr

DSC05028 by bryandkeith on flickr

The best part of the video is listening to the old shepherd, Yusuf Amca, who’s been staying with his wife in a tent at Kapıkaya for years watching their goats.  One afternoon he walked by and squatted down to watch us climb just like he does in the video.  After finishing the route, I went down and chatted with him a bit.  Then a couple days later as we were leaving, Yusuf Amca and his wife had three of us climbers over for lunch.  They’re great people — smiling, happy, healthy, and still enjoying the mountains at 78 years old.

DSC04999 by bryandkeith on flickr

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4 Responses to Climbing in Kapıkaya, Isparta

  1. Michael Karl says:

    Hi Bryan,

    I´m very interested in the clinmbing guide for the Kapikaya area.
    Would be great if you could mail me your electronic version.

    Kind regards

  2. Oleksii Buglak says:

    Hello Bryan, yuor story about the climbing in Kapikaya, near the Isparta very interested us. We are a group of climbers from Ukraine and we are going to start climbing in Geikbairi in May of this year. It is near Antalya and about 150 km from Isparta. It would be interesting to get acquainted with the new climbing area. if you can give us an electronic version of the guidebook on the Kapikaya region, that would be great. We would also appreciate any information on travel arrangements. Thanks and best regards. Oleksiy Buglak

    • Bryan Keith says:

      Hi Oleksiy,

      I sent you a link to download the guidebook. This link might also work as well. I’m not quite sure how sharing stuff via google drive works.

      As I point out in the post, there is no public transportation to Kapıkaya. There is also no place to stay. You should be prepared to camp and bring all your food. There is water though you have to walk ~15 minutes from where you camp to the water so you want to bring enough water capacity that you only have to go there once a day.

      There are hourly buses that run between Antalya and Isparta, usually with Isparta Petrol. Those buses will drop you at the road to Kapıkaya which is also the road to Güneyce, Büyük Kışla, Darıören, and Çukur. When I took the bus, the driver (or helper) didn’t know this road so it might be useful to have it marked on your gps and be able to tell the driver’s helper when you’re getting close to the turnoff. From there it’s still 10km to Kapıkaya so you’ll probably want to hitchhike. There might not be much traffic so be prepared to walk. The turnoff (with a sign) to Kapıkaya is on the road between Güneyce and Çukur. You don’t want the roads to Kışla or Darıören. There are signs at all these intersections.

      If you have your own vehicle, you’ll be able to drive it all the way to the çeşme (the water) before Kapıkaya. Unless your vehicle is unusually burly, you’ll want to park it there and walk the rest of the way. The small pass between the water and the camping is steep and rocky. Most cars cannot pass there.

      I guess that’s about all the information I have. Do you have any more questions?

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