Five winter days in Aladağlar with İsmet and Alper

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's place by bryandkeith on flickr

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.

Salim, İsmet, and Alper by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200301_163305 by bryandkeith on flickr

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.

First sunlight on our goal, Alaca Dağı by bryandkeith on flickr

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.

IMG_20200302_084200 by bryandkeith on flickr

Here’s looking back in the opposite direction:

IMG_20200302_084151 by bryandkeith on flickr

The snow climb started off reasonably enough:

IMG_20200302_103642 by bryandkeith on flickr

but by the time I was here, even with crampons and an ice ax, it felt steep  to me:

Feeling steep now by bryandkeith on flickr

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.

IMG_20200302_112318 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200302_112327_9 by bryandkeith on flickr

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.

IMG_20200302_132015 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200302_150237 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200302_150726_33 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200302_145911 by bryandkeith on flickr

Also, skiing out Emli Vadisi to our rendezvous point with Salim was longer and flatter than I expected.

IMG_20200302_161929 by bryandkeith on flickr

Back at Recep’s place we were rewarded with more great views and beer!

IMG_20200302_170200_3 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200304_182521 by bryandkeith on flickr

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:

IMG_20200303_113104 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200303_134215 by bryandkeith on flickr

Looking up toward Dipsizgöl (high on the right) by bryandkeith on flickr

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?

This is where I broke the cable to my binding; I walked down this drainage by bryandkeith on flickr

The end of the day was a lot of slow walking, but at least I was no longer scared.

IMG_20200303_165059 by bryandkeith on flickr

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.

That's Kocasarp by bryandkeith on flickr

Snowshoes: that's what happens when I break a binding; relaxing lunch stop by bryandkeith on flickr

In spite of our rather different routes we timed the pick up at the end of the day with Salim quite well.

İsmet returnıng from her skı day by bryandkeith on flickr

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.

IMG_20200305_093345 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200305_094552 by bryandkeith on flickr

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.

IMG_20200305_111115 by bryandkeith on flickr

screenshot-www.gpsvisualizer.com-2020-04-25-18-33-31-838 by bryandkeith on flickr

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5 Responses to Five winter days in Aladağlar with İsmet and Alper

  1. Sage says:

    Public transportation? Is there no restriction due to virus?

    • Bryan Keith says:

      Sage, this trip was about two months ago, a couple weeks before the (intercity) public transportation shutdown in Turkey. I delay the blog posts for a number of reasons, one of which is it takes some time to delete, edit and upload photos.

      Now there are restrictions. There are very few intercity buses running, and you need a pretty good reason to move between provinces. Skiing is not on their list of good reasons. On lockdown days (today is one; I think we’ve had less than 10 so far) you need a pretty good reason to leave the house.

  2. Derek and Jennie Werner says:

    Oh my God, you are so much more adventurous than we are! Superb! Derek and Jennie

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