Updated: Jan 31
Every fall, Anju and I have the opportunity to take some time off and enjoy one of the perks of our career: long vacations. This year, with Anju's immigration status settled and the pandemic in a lull, we travelled to Berlin to see family and friends after nearly 2 years away. Naturally, we tossed in a few days (or weeks) of climbing between time in the city, and ended up with a three month trip to Europe. I'll cover most of the climbing in this post, including our inaugural akioanju Geyikabyiri trip!
There is never enough time spent with family when you're living halfway around the world, but a certain degree of verticality is required for my sanity. So, after a few weeks of staying in Berlin we were anxious to get back into the nature. Waffling between transportation options, conditions, and desires, we settled on Gorges du Verdon in Provence, France. Once again, we packed up Suat's Vito and drove South for 2 weeks of croissant and espresso fueled climbing.
Our first few days were spent being humbled by the Verdon's confusing English guidebook, complex aspects, and stiff grades/runouts. Weather came in abruptly and, with our tails between our legs, we diverted to meet Anju's friends at Buoux, an old haunt for sport climbers in the 80s and 90s. A few days with Anju's Berlin climbing group, the Yeti's, proved for good times and some well needed confidence building. It was yet another reminder that time spent with friends, new and old, is what makes these trips most memorable.
After a few days in Buoux, we returned to Verdon and climbed some classics, this time feeling more comfortable. Mornings were spent waiting in line at the bakery, drinking a few cups of coffee, then stumbling around the rim of the canyon. On the routes, the commitment and exposure that is the hallmark of Verdon was starting to feel invigorating. Walking 50 yards from the van, rapping in, and climbing a few pitches out was truly blissful.
Once we were back in Berlin, we promptly packed our bags and jumped on the next flight to Ankara, Turkey. We were greeted by Suat and his wonderfully accommodating family in Çubuk. We spent a few days with the family, making sure to fill our bellies at every meal. Before I knew it, we were on the road to Cappadocia, one of Turkey's must-see tourist locations.
We spent a few days in Cappadocia, touring through underground cities, open air museums, and marveling at the landscape. It was truly amazing and quite the surprise, after driving a few hundred kilometers across desert to get there. Unfortunately weather wouldn't cooperate and we weren't able fly in hot air balloons, but that just leaves us a good reason to visit again.
Next, we headed down to Antalya stopping by Konya on the way. While in Konya, we visited more family and had the chance to see some awesome sites- including the tomb of Rumi and a butterfly museum.
Finally, we made it to Antalya our destination and home base for the next month. We settled in for a week and a half of adventuring and getting used to the rock before our guided trip began.
Geyikbayiri Rock Retreat
We were booked out for our trip, but in the days leaded up to it, two climbers dropped out last minute. We offered their spots, fully paid, on social media and to local Turkish gyms, but couldn't fill them on such short notice. This meant that only two climbers joined us, which just meant more flexibility with our schedule and an open tab at the bar. On day one, we picked folks up from the airport and got a few pitches in before Kebap night the campground.
Day two, we really got started with upwards of 8 pitches each around the Kulluin and Rusgarli sectors. We were all feeling accustomed to the stone by the end of the day and we even enjoyed a send train on a fun 7a+. This night, we enjoyed local caught fish roasted on the grill.
Day three had us at the popular and well shaded Trebenna crag, touring some of the best routes that Geyikbayiri has to offer. We all got on the ultra classic, Lycian Highway 7b. Wrapping up early, we snuck in an hour of beach time in Konyaalti before touring the local Tuesday market. We rounded off the evening with fresh pide, lamb sis, and local wine above the city at a classic Turkish restaurant.
After this, a rest day was in order and we split up, with one staying to fight off a cold in the comforts of camp and the rest of us heading to Olympos for some beach relaxing and ruins exploration. On the way back, we stopped for to pick up some fresh baklava for dessert that evening.
Feeling fresh, we spent day 5 at Trebenna again. We revisited some routes and, amazingly, everyone managed a tough send, including: No Money No Dance 7c, Lycian Highway 7b, and Fight the Butcher 7a. At this point, everyone's skin was starting to hurt and we had to conserve some energy for the final day.
Our 6th day of climbing, we decided to go out with a bang and climbed at the Anatolia sector. The rock is excellent and the routes are long, but we barely lasted until early afternoon before our fingertips were torn and forearms were screaming. We dropped into town for some Çay and Gözleme before heading back to camp to start packing. That evening, we enjoyed our final dinner together over a few glasses of wine...
For the last day, we opted to have a proper Turkish breakfast. We drove high up into the mountains above Geyikbayiri, with a sprawling view of Antalya, for a full spread kahvaalti. Practically rolling out, we stopped in old town for some last minute shopping and sightseeing before heading to the airport. We said our goodbyes and everyone took off on their next adventures.
The next morning, still nursing our sore forearms, we met up with some friends from Montana for another large breakfast. The following days included some rainy weather, cave climbing, and card playing at the campground. More wine was consumed and plenty of routes were attempted.
Thanks Seth for the photos!
For the final part of our climbing trip, we spent a few more rainy days in Olympos to sample some new rock and swim on the picture perfect beaches. We spent Thanksgiving together, playing cards and roasting fresh chestnuts. And, of course, we were able to get a few pitches in a stones throw from the campground at Hörgüç Mağara and at Cennet, two high quality chunks of stone.
It's always a treat to be able to climb, camp, and eat with friends, but to be able to travel halfway around the world and do so is truly a privilege. After the past two years, it's hard to imagine spending time with so many people. Our time abroad was such a sweet reminder how import it is to meet with others and share the journey.
Shortly after our stay in Olympos, the Montana gang split up and we said our goodbyes once again. Anju and I were soon on a flight to Berlin to introduce my parents to her family and home; another epic adventure better told another time.