Saturday, December 13, 2008

Rock Climbing around Antalya Part 1: Geyikbayırı

Early Saturday morning, Andrew and I hopped on a 45 minute flight to Antalya, a city on the Mediterranean, rented a car, and drove the 45-minutes to Geyikbayiri, a world class climbing area. As anticipated, the sky was blue, the air was warm and smelled of saltwater, and mountains surrounded us. Kurban Bayrami, or the Festival of the Sacrifice, is when the sacrificial offering of a sheep representing Abraham's son Ishmael is marked by the slaughter of over 2.5 million sheep in Turkey. On our drive to the climbing area, we passed truckloads and truckloads of sheep. The meat of one sheep would be used to supply a small community with food, the poor taken care of first. Gratitude and empathy are part of this holiday as they were during the Seker Bayram in September. I experienced gratitude when I saw the cliff bands of Geyikbayiri for the first time, and grateful for the week off to enjoy the crags.

We stayed at a place called Josito, named after three German climbers who established this international climbing camp in 2000. I felt like I left Turkey. There were so many different accents, and they all looked like the dirtbag hippy climbers you'd meet in the U.S.. They even listened to the same music, and had the same sense of humor. Climber culture. I felt at home in a way that I haven't since I got here. Just a bunch of people keeping it simple: camping, climbing, eating, camping, climbing, eating. I loved the buzz of the campground in the morning, as the sun came up on people stretching, cooking coffee over gas stoves, and at night, the hissing of the stoves again, the headlamps, the beer. Because it got dark at 4:30pm, and quickly got quite is December after all... many people retired to the guesthouse for warm drinks, games of backgammon chess, good conversation, and a hearty dinner. We ate communal style: long tables, where we were all served the same meal, and struck up conversations with people from all over the world. Andrew and I quickly met three Canadians that we ate with and hung out with each evening thereafter. And now I have three new climbing connections; the adventure buddy list grows.

This rock was right up there with Blackleaf Canyon in Choteau, Montana, as far as ouchiness. By the second day, my fingers were shredded, and it got to the point that we'd quit at the end of the day not because our forearms were pumped out, but because we could not handle the pain of holding on any longer, our fingerpads worn thin. Upon examination of my skin at the end of the second day, I noticed this smiley face cut into my finger. In English class, we've been studying irony a lot lately, and by golly, it's following me everywhere.

The limestone had all the features of calcium carbonate from my days working as a ranger at Wind Cave National Park in the summer of 2000: popcorn, stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone. It was caving during that summer that first whetted my appetite for climbing. It was neat to feel the old cave features again, and also be able to see them in broad daylight. Though neither of us were quite strong enough to do many of the overhanging cave routes, there were some classic fun ones we were able to hop on. On one of them you climbed through a hole. It spoke to my inner child. If you're into "Where's Waldo?" books, you can play, "Where's Andrew?" at the top of the cave.

The animal spirit of the cave... This little rock wren hung out with us as we climbed some overhanging routes in one of the caves.

Climbing with Steve on the second day, a fellow North American who is teaching at an international school in Tarsus, Turkey. I actually interviewed and was offered a job at his school at my job fair, and then at the IB workshop befriended a teacher who was on her way to that school. The international teaching community is getting smaller by the day.

My first fall foliage in Turkey. The trees around Ankara seemed to skip the vibrant color stage and go straight to brown. A stream running behind camp hosted old growth maple leaves; that tree never lets you down for a good show.


world CLIMBERS party @ 9b said...

Nice report !

Bones said...

This looks really amazing. My wife and I are teachers from Colorado (but in Ecuador) who are looking at your school! I just emailed you, maybe we can chat!?!