Thursday, May 27, 2010

Climbing in Olympos

Due to Youth and Sports Day, we had a 4 1/2 day holiday, so Tim, Erin, Uriah, Leyla and I drove down to Olympos to beachbathe and climb.

The roadtrip:

We drove through Afyonkarahisar (translation: Poppy Black Castle), Turkey's leading town for producing legal opiates (Turkey's rumored to be one of the leading countries of legal opiate production). Along the highway were fields and fields of white poppies in bloom.

We stayed in bungalows at Bayram's treehouses, a super chill place for hanging out on çardaklar, raised wooden platforms littered with pillows for lounging while drinking tea.

And right across the street, there was climbing. We took our friends, Uriah and Leyla, first-time climbing.

That evening, we hiked 1km up a hill in a neighboring valley to see the eternal flames of chimaera. In Greek mythology, the Chimaera was a fire-breathing creature of Lycia in Asia Minor (the Lycian Way goes right through Olympos), composed of the parts of multiple animals: the body of a lioness with a tail that ends in a snake's head, and the head of a goat. The earliest literary reference to the Chimaera is in Homer's Iliad: "a thing of immortal make, not human, lion-fronted and snake behind, a goat in the middle and snorting out the breath of the terrible flame of bright fire." Sighting the Chimera was an omen of storms, shipwrecks, and natural disasters (particularly volcanoes). In the myth, the Chimera was defeated by Bellerophon, with the help of Pegasus. Since Pegasus could fly, Bellerophon shot the Chimera from the air, safe from her heads and breath. He attached to his spear a lump of lead that melted when exposed to the her fiery breath but still killed her. The myth supposedly took place on this hillside we visited: an area of permanent gas vents called Yanartaş (flaming rock) in Turkish, consisting of two dozen vents in the ground, which emit burning methane thought to be of metamorphic origin. In ancient times, these were landmarks by which sailors could navigate. (Thanks, wikipedia- the English translations in Olympos were spotty!)
The site was really cool! To see flames coming up out of the earth all along a hillside, the crackling sounds, the warm night!

The next day, we climbed in the valley across the street:

We tried to sunbathe on the beach a few times, and each time a massive cloudfront moved in. The water was only warm enough for this Montana-blooded girl on one of the days. Chilly in Olympos! Thank God we have this other hobby! Last day of climbing!

Friday, May 14, 2010

My First Turkish Poem

Since my Ezra Pound poetry "bootcamp" experience last summer, I have continued to write poetry, and once a month meet with a group of friends at a different cafe to share what we've written. I also have been, in an effort to improve my Turkish in a fun way, translating Orhan Velli's Complete Poems. I was shooting for one a day, but am lucky if I translate two a week. I hope to finish the translations this summer. The following poem, my first in Turkish, came out of my pen in Turkish, and surprisingly, the difficulty ensued when trying to translate the line, "Küçük zamanlar büyüktür," into English. Which adjective for büyük? Huge? Large? Big? Magnanimous?

Küçük Zamanlar

Tango provası yok, ama
çiçekler var.
Okulu sevmedim, ama
Duygu ile konuşmayı sevdim.
Küçük zamanlar büyüktür.
Ah, şimdi varolan rüyaları yazmak!

Small Times

There is no tango practice, but
there are flowers.
I didn’t enjoy school, but
I loved talking with Duygu.
Small times are large.
Oh, to write dreams that exist right now!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mt. Erciyes

Mt. Erciyes is one of the dormant volcanoes responsible for Cappadoccia's unique formations. It helped lay the groundwork so to speak. It's a 3,900 meter mountain outside of Kayseri, and last weekend, Tim, Erin, and I played in its snow. In September, while climbing in the Aladaglar, or Crimson Mtns. in southern Turkey, we met Nuri and Agi, a Turkish climber married to a Bulgarian woman, and when they learned we were coming to Kayseri, they offered us their home Friday night, and then hiked up with us the next day, to show us the routes. This is the view of Erciyes from their apartment:

Nuri is the Team Leader of Kayseri's Search and Rescue team, AKUT. Ankara's AKUT holds the bouldering gym which we go to. We followed Nuri's cool Search and Rescue van to the mountain:

This is a canyon we'll return to for climbing:

Here's Tim and Erin suitin' up for the skin up. We planned to camp in the caldera that night, and wake up early to skin up to the ridge the next morning.

And here we are setting up camp in the caldera:

The sun setting, the temperature was a WINDY night!

The next morning: an accidental sleep-in plus encroaching bad weather = us skinning up to where we would (and will next time) skin up to the ridge, and then heading back down the mountain to avoid the bad weather. We ended up staying in a sucker hole the rest of the ski down; the storm just skirted around the mountain, but we'd played it safe. It was a sussin'-it-out-trip, anyway.

Oh my God, those were heavy packs to pull off tele-turns in!

There were enough rocky patches that we had to take our skis on and off a few times, and then finally attach them to our packs to hike back to the car. But not too shabby: skiing on May 9th in Central Anatolia!

Really cool alpine flowers! :)