My second Şekker Bayram in Turkey. Last year, it was the Kaçkar Mountains, this year the Ala Dağları. Tim and Erin (two new teachers from Boulder, CO, who were most recently teaching in Quito, Ecuador and happen to share all my outdoor passions) and I drove the adolescent boy car (my little Mazda) five hours south of Ankara to the Crimson Mountains, the range that starts the Taurus Mountains. When you crest the hill and see these mountains for the first time, you'd be surprised to learn they are only about 10,000 feet high. Like Glacier NP, they are so vertical-looking. They crash into the plains. Their foothills consist of brown burly rolling gorges. The whole range in fact was so brown and barren! I felt like I was in Turkey; it was how I'd imagine Middleastern mountains to look. There was not a spot of green on them. Not until we hiked into a gorge or down a valley did we see any color besides brown.
We stayed at the Climber's House, Ala Evi, a kind of camping/hostel/pansyon owned and operated by a young Turkish climbing couple, Zeynep and Recep. They recently wrote a climbing guidebook for the area, and were a great spring of knowledge on the mountain range.
Their site consisted of a common kitchen and shower area, a small lodge with a wood stove (which we were very grateful for with the inclement Alpine weather), and a great view of the mountains.
Our first day out, Tim, Erin, and I headed towards Elmali Vallesi (Apple Valley), a canyon hidden from the eye until you walk upon it. The rock was conglomerate limestone, very similar in quality to Geyikbayiri in Antalya. We climbed. And it was fun. :)
The second day, we woke up to rain and snow on the tops of the peaks. We waited it out for a few hours, and then drove further into Apple Valley and hiked to the road's end and further, until we saw the famous Parmakkale, a climber's spire.
The third day, we drove to Cimbar Valley, another gorge with bolted sport routes.
One last stop at the fruit stand to buy some apples from Elma (Apple) Land before heading back to Ankara. This man refused to let me be in the picture with him.
Then this man felt bad for me, and invited me into a picture with him. :)
The Ala Daglar were AMAZING, and we are already scheming to get back this fall for a ski!