When the alpine rock climbing in Chamonix started to get chilly in late September we headed south to the Garda lake and Arco (Sarche Valley), where adventurous alpine climbing is combined with the comfort and treat of an Italian vacation by the lake.
Pursuit of the best sport climbing leading to Geyikbayiri
From Arco, the Rock Trip Autumn 2011 went on to Finale Ligure where the focus changed to sport climbing and pushing the grades. Reaching end of October, a natural continuation was to head southeast to Kalymnos, Greece, (taking a cheap flight from Milano) to test our limits and stay on the perfect climate border (where swimming in the sea is still enjoyable and climbing in both sun and shade possible). To combine this trip with another becoming-world-famous limestone climbing destination, we continued (2 weeks later) further east by boat and bus to the hills above Antalya in Southern Turkey. Here the rock climbing season is just starting and will continue through out the winter.
So far our search for the highest quality of rock (and of life in general) has been a mix of holiday and work. We have met so many friendly and inspiring people and had so much good food…as always the road is by far more important then the final destination. However, to highlight a place that I have not written about before, I’ll drop a few lines about at the sport climbing in Geyikbayiri, before we take off to finish this years sun-beach-rock trip with a month in Thailand.
I particularly liked the combination of travelling from Greece to Turkey, getting two equally great climbing destinations of slightly different characters into one holiday and without flying in-between.
Getting to Geyikbayiri from Kalymnos
No need to pre-book – just go! 2h ferry from Kos to Bodrum, 9h over-night bus ride to Antalya, a final 30min taxi, and 50€ per person later, we have crossed the boarder from west to east and find our selves in a Muslim country where English is of little help once away from the big tourist traps. The scenery and culture is different and in Geyikbayiri most people still live traditional lives unconcerned by tourists and climbers.
We instantly conclude that this place provide great competition to Kalymnos; From 6a to 8a the climbing is equally spectacular, Turkish food beats the already good Greek, but therefore the sea is 30min drive away. Tough choice!
It comes down to personal preferences: Oso or Raki, Souvlaki or Kebeb, snapper or trout, sea or forest, climbing on big tufa formations or more compact colonette structures… Ola Hillberg has made and detailed comparison between Kalymnos and Turkey (unfortunately in Swedish) at: Grekland vs Turkiet – Jämn Match
Life in Geyikbayiri…
…is cheap and peaceful, even though there are way more climbers in the valley now then 5 years ago. At least two more camps have opened after the original two camps (JoSiTo and Climbers Garden), as well as numerous guesthouses.
It is hard for the locals to compete with the original camps run by foreign climbers when it comes to attracting climbers. Knowing our way of traveling and typical life style, they have already created a dream set-up, providing exactly what climbers want (i.e the option to camp and cook, wifi, available cars, easy booking via internet etc.) and marketed it well. All this, the locals can only try to copy and market as second-generation options.
However the locals can provide some expert traditional cooking, competitive prices, equal hospitality and a genuine cultural experience. If they make the effort to get to know their customers, people in Geyikbayiri may in the future be living from tourism like the people on Kalymnos. But unfortunately they missed the train when Geiykbayiri got marked on the climber’s map.
“Our last day in JoSiTo coinciding with the Turkish holiday week, the campsite overflowed with people. Having one tent after the other pitched more or less on top of ours, it was very strange to see the neighbouring camp completely empty!? Wondering if this dude next door has poisonous snakes in his garden or served cockroaches, we went over for dinner to check it out. Food was excellent, camp was nice, shower and toilet facilities less well made than at JoSiTo, but ok. Our conclusion was that people (not even the Turks) just don’t know about it.“
The food in the camps is good, but the food at the local trout farm is amazing! I especially appreciate restaurants with not too many choices on the menu. I like when we sit down and local meze specialities with freshly baked break and salad is simply served. Then they ask you if you want the fish oven baked or grilled, which is the only choice you have to make. Like this you’ll get the best they have to offer and Turkish-speaking waiters only is not a problem.
The Sport Climbing in Geyikbayiri
In early November we still have to hide in the shade during most parts of the day for climbing. In this valley the sectors consist of one long continuous south face and one long northwest face, as well as some smaller sectors and caves of varying aspects. This means that you can always get good climbing in sun or shade, but the dream would be to be able to climb on both sides of the valley so that you get the full potential of this valley and so that people spread out all over the place. This is possible a bit later in the year, around Christmas, and you can enjoy the big south face during the winter months.
The routes are long and well bolted. Tufas and colonettes make esthetical lines up the steeper orange rock and offer three-dimensional and athletic climbing. For technical and balancy climbing there are beautiful vertical lines on grey limestone with sharp crimps and pockets.
The best thing with Geyikbayiri is that you can focus all your time and energy on climbing (and eating)! There is nothing else to worry about, no logistics or other diverting attractions…It is you and the rock, and the people sharing your experience.
Geyikbayiri 2011 and 2012
Images from our first trip to Geyikbayiri, end of October to beginning of November 2011, followed by photos from out text visit in end of November 2012. Going a bit later in the season changed the temperatures a lot, so while climbing mostly in shady Trebenna on our first trip, we climbed almost exclusively on the sunny side on the 2nd trip.
– More practical info about the trip and the climbing at UKClimbing.com.
– Mountain Spirit Guides organizes Rock Climbing Trips and Courses to all the destinations mentioned above for private groups.
– Guide book: A Rock Climbing Guide to Antalya by Ozturk Kayikci (4th edition 2011)
– More photos in our Facebook album Rock Climbing Kalymnos and Geykibayiri