Training for Nepal, part one.
I wanted to call this post “skiing in Aladağlar”, and, well, the week started with skiing, but it didn’t end with skiing.
I took an overnight bus from Antalya to Niğde and arrived at Recep’s place in Martı Mahallesi (Çukurbağ, Çamardı) a couple hours before İsmet and Alper did. The Çamardı dolmuş, by the way, stops at the yeni otogar on it’s way to Çamardı so there’s no reason to get the servis into the city to the eski otogar if you’re heading out the Çamardı road. It was a 14 hour trip from my house to Recep’s comfortable hotel, Aladağlar Camping Bungalow.
Recep served us a late breakfast, and we took off in the early afternoon for Emli Vadisi with Salim, our driver for the week. This is a problem with Aladağlar — you really need daily motorized transport to get to and from the various trailheads.
We skied till it was dark that night, and after climbing about 1000m, we shoveled out a bivy spot in the upper Mangırcı Vadisi. The following morning in the early light we got the first view of our goal for the day, Alaca Dağı.
As we approached the peak, Alaca’s snow-covered west face was looking more and more appealing. From this vantage point it didn’t seem so steep to me.
Here’s looking back in the opposite direction:
The snow climb started off reasonably enough:
but by the time I was here, even with crampons and an ice ax, it felt steep to me:
I had a fairly heavy pack with sleeping gear and skis and haven’t done much snow climbing in the last eight years. I was grateful that İsmet and Alper kicked steps the rest of the way and was even more relieved to pop out onto the summit.
Our route down Parmakkaya Vadisi was far better skiing than I expected in Aladağlar. It certainly wasn’t fluffy powder, but we made some nice turns. Be warned, however, that this route did require a short rappel to descend the steep hard snow at the top of the valley.
Also, skiing out Emli Vadisi to our rendezvous point with Salim was longer and flatter than I expected.
Back at Recep’s place we were rewarded with more great views and beer!
Our next excursion was up beautiful Arpalık Vadisi, into Cimbar Boğazı, over Demirkazık Kuzey Beli, and down Apışkar Boğazı. A mostly mellow route with some nice views:
However, right at the top of the pass I broke my ski binding, and the route didn’t feel so mellow anymore. To traverse some steep hard snow slopes near the top of the pass I had to choose between kicking steps in my floppy leather telemark boots or sliding across on one ski. Argh, why hadn’t I brought my crampons?
The end of the day was a lot of slow walking, but at least I was no longer scared.
İsmet has connections all over Turkey and was able to round up some snowshoes for me for the following day. I casually walked up Narpuz Vadisi (though I did bring (and use) my crampons to pass the second constriction with the hard snow in the morning) while İsmet and Alper skied up and down Emler.
In spite of our rather different routes we timed the pick up at the end of the day with Salim quite well.
My final day in Aladağlar was a short one as I had a bus to catch in the afternoon. I took a morning stroll through Kazıklı Ali Kanyonu, one of Aladağlar’s sport climbing areas.
This was a day earlier than I had planned to leave, but with another of her connections, İsmet found me some AT/randonnée gear to rent in Erzurum. With a little luck maybe I’ll be skiing in Kaçkar next week.
Bye, bye Aladağlar.