The Aladaglar rock climbing area is located in the northern part of the Taurus Mountain range, and it covers a vast area, stretching over 25km wide by 40 km long. There are more than 60 peaks over 3,000m high, the highest being Demirkazik at 3,756m. This area is described as the most beautiful climbing region in Turkey and it offers everything from sport, traditional and alpine rock climbing.
If you are looking for a rock climbing holiday with a difference, and away from the usual crowds of France, Spain and Italy then Aladaglar could be the destination for you. Here you will find some great climbing in a beautifully remote place, with very few other people and the opportunity to bag some new routes.
Located just outside of Karamuk village (also known as Demirkazik village) is the Cimbar valley - one of the main sports climbing areas, along with the Pinarbasi Canyon. These limestone crags offer everything from single pitch to multi-pitch sport routes. The style of climbing is mainly slabs and vertical walls with small pockets, which requires balance and good technique on limestone rock. There are around 250 routes, which are mainly single or 2-pitches routes across a good range of grades from some F5s to mainly F6s and F7s. However there are also some multi-pitch routes up to 200m long.
Another sport climbing area is in the Kazikli valley, which is just south of Cukurbag village. The rock here is conglomerate full of big pockets, mono fingerholds and big overhangs. There are around 200 single pitch sport routes mainly in the F5a to F7c grade range.
The climbing in both these areas is at an altitude of around 1,500m making it possible to climb from April through to November. The ethics is not to bolt crack lines so there are also a number of traditional routes to be found here.
These sport climbing areas are relatively new so there is great potential to open new routes here. Recep Ince and & Zeynep Tantekin have both been instrumental in developing these sports climbing areas. They have written a guidebook simply called Aladaglar, which details all the sport climbing routes, plus they have all the latest information about any new routes recently added. The local climbers also request that you talk to them about opening new routes. Recep and Zeynep run a guesthouse called Aladaglar Camping, which is located close to the main rock climbing areas and is an ideal place to stay.
Climbers and mountaineers have been visiting the Aladaglar Mountains since the early 1900s to climb the many peaks over 3,000m high. Today there are over 150 great multi-pitch alpine routes that lie scattered throughout the mountain range, from 200m up to 650m long. One of these routes climbs the east face of the highest mountain of Demirkazik at a grade of 8a (7b obligatory), though it is bolted. These routes have an Alpine feel to them, as they often require a long walk-in and camping at the base of the route. However unlike the Alps there will be very few crowds, emphasizing the remoteness of this vast area.
Unfortunately there appears to be no current guidebook covering all of these routes, though 65 routes are detailed in the Aladaglar guidebook by Recep Ince. These big wall routes have a mixture of fixed equipment from fully bolted routes to pure traditional routes requiring nuts and cams. The belays are also sometimes well-spaced so twin 60m ropes are advisable. Due to the high altitude, the ideal season for climbing these routes is between June and September.
An unknown climber enjoying the rock climbing in the Cimbar valley, Aladaglar.
Getting to Aladaglar does require a little more effort than your usual rock climbing holiday (though no more than Kalymnos). The nearest international airports are Adana airport and Erkilet International at Kayseri. From either of these airports you can then reach the climbing areas in less than 2 hours by car. Alternatively the nearest major international airports are at Antalya and Esenboga International at Ankara though it will then take around 5 hours to drive to the climbing areas. Also cheap flights are available to Ataturk International Airport at Istanbul, though it is then a 9 hour drive to Aladaglar.
For gear it is advisable to take a 60m rope, around 12 quickdraws and a small collection of trad gear if you are only going for the sports routes. For the big walls dual 60m ropes and a full rack are essential. For accommodation Recep Ince and Zeynep Tantekin run a guesthouse called "Aladaglar Guesthouse Camp", which is located in Cukurbag, close to the main rock climbing areas and is an ideal place to stay. Visit their web site.