Guest posted by Chad Davis
Last year, my wife and I spent 5 months in Turkey. The following post describes some of the best sport climbing we’ve ever seen. The area is called Geyikbayiri ( forget pronouncing it correctly ) and is situated a few miles inland from Antalya, a Meditteranean coastal city. If you’ve ever considered going to Greece, Antalya is a much cheaper option, and the climbing is perhaps even better. I’ll make some other guest posts on climbing in Turkey over the next few months.
Geyikbayiri ( Deer Mountain ) featurs perfect, highly featured limestone. This must be some of the best climbing on the planet. Even if you don’t like sport climbing, it would be hard not to like this stuff. The routes commonly run over the 40 meter mark. And its typically overhanging ( negative ) the entire way. There are basically two kinds of routes: vertical to slightly overhung grey rock offering mind numbing technical challenges, and the whacky steep stuff. The grey technical routes climb over grey limestone that has been eroded into a rough ( frequently sharp ) relief map of micro holds. The problem is that its impossible to discern a good hold from a bad hold until you’ve touched all of them, each touch removing a bit of skin. Frequently, there are not any good holds, but the rock has enough texture to keep you attached even after your tips are shredded and your forearms pumped. Onsighting one of these 45 meter technical atrocities is like slowly bleeding to death from oozing tips. Oh, and your feet hurt too. I absolutely love it.
While some are averse to suffering, everyone likes huge holds and clean falls off. The whackily steep routes, probably the most exciting to American climbers, offer wild collonades ( those fin things that run up the rock ), tufas, stalactites, and a variety of faintly erotic calcite decorations. These routes are super pumpy with plenty of large size holds that challange creativity more than finger strength. In picture below and to the right, check out the long collonades to the right of the climber. These climbs use nothing but the collonade. Its something new to learn, but after a few weeks it clicks.
Stylistically, this is European sport climbing. This means everyone is redpointing. A frequent day at the crag involves a warm up pitch or two, or maybe just swinging your arms wildly for the Russians, followed by a leisurely assault on a single route. But first you have to get the draws up. Some folks don’t even pretend to try to onsight anything. They totally dog the thing. The clear and unapologetic goal is hang the draws with the least expenditure of energy. After clipping a single draw to the chains, they lower and rest for half an hour before trying to redpoint it. If they fail, they lower, rest for half an hour and try again. Usually, they fail endlessly because the routes are ridiculously hard.
But endless failed redpoint attempts mesh perfectly with smoking ciggies at the base. Waiting for the route to go in the shade also warrants ciggies at the base. Rest days call for a fair number of ciggies as well. Now that I think about it, I’ve never seen so many ciggies at the base of a limestone crag since I ran into Jim Bridwell at Wild Iris some years ago. Jim was wearing lycra even. But that’s another story.