I’ve been putting off writing this blog because my camera went kaput just as we were starting up the mountain so I have no photos of what was the reason to travel to Hakkari: climbing Sümbül Dağı. Of course, my climbing partners took photos, and I’ve posted some here, but I was somewhat disappointed with their photos.
Hakkari is Turkey’s most southeastern province, bordering both Iraq and Iran. Due to security issues, there are sometimes travel restrictions in place, and indeed when we were here, we weren’t allowed to travel to Yüksekova and needed special permission from the jandarma to climb Sümbül Dağı. I believe the road between Hakkari and Şırnak was also off-limits at the time.
As far as the climb, well, the last 500m vertical was a fun wide couloir climb, all on snow. We should have great photos, but it seems folks may have been a bit nervous on the steep snow to take many photos. The views from the summit of the mountains to the east toward Iran and to the south toward Iraq were fantastic, yet the only summit photos that anyone took were looking west toward the city of Hakkari. 🙁
Here are Naci Abi and Deniz, signing the summit register with the provincial capital below:
and the only photo of the fun, long couloir:
It took 34 hours to travel from Antalya to Hakkari via Adana where Deniz got on the same bus I was on. Tarık came from Ankara, and the three of us met at the bus station in Van. The other two who summited with us, Naci and Emin, were waiting for us in Hakkari where they live.
Before starting up the mountain, we had one day in Hakkari. Naci and some friends, Nurcan and Kerem, took us on a short tour. There had been talk of rafting, but the weather was cool, and the rivers were swollen. We ended up driving to the village of Dereiçi, just over the border in Van Province, to some travertine, sort of a miniature Pamukkale.
The rugged scenery in this region is impressive. Here’s the Zap River (Great Zab), flowing south to Iraq:
Get there now as both Turkey and Iraq are planning a mess of dams. 🙁
The following morning we started our three-day assault on Sümbül Dağı. Here’s a lousy photo of the mountain from the city of Hakkari, one of the last photos I took before my camera died:
Hakkari is at 1700m, and Sümbül Dağı’s summit is 3400m. However, between the two is the aforementioned Zap River so we had to descend 500m from the city to start our climb of the mountain at 1200m on the bank of the river. We climbed up to our camp at 2800m on the first day carrying our big packs over continuously steep terrain.
This photo looks staged, but, no, we’re right on route:
It’s a steep mountain.
The camp at 2800m is surprisingly comfortable with enough flat space for 5-7 tents.
We started our summit day without crampons, but the rock was steep. Sticking to the snow the whole way would have been faster, safer, and more comfortable. As it was, like I said, we had about 500m vertical on the snow, one of the longest and steepest snow climbs I’ve done in Turkey. Our trip was at the end of May, but the conditions could be even better a month earlier with more snow covering some of the lower steep rocky slabs.
There are many more mountains to climb in Hakkari…
More adventures! Happy New Year!