During the first half of August 2006 the Italians Mauro Florit, Marco Sterni, Rolando Larcher and Maurizio Oviglia traveled to Turkey's Guvercinlik Valley in the Ala Daglar massif where they established four new routes. Larcher and Oviglia had visited the area together with Paissan in July 2005, putting up two modern sports routes, and this time they charted the various summits with GPS readings to supplement the existing maps, in accordance with the local climbers. The Guvercinlik Valley is characterised by the W Face of Guvercinlik, an impressive 600m high wall known as Tranga Wall.
COME TO DERWISH, ITALIAN GUYS!
Even if the ways are different, the aim is but one (Mevlàna)
by Maurizio Oviglia
team: Mauro Florit, Marco Sterni - Rolando Larcher, Maurizio Oviglia
We departed as a group of four with the same destination as last summer, and this in itself could already be a good clue. If it was an expedition, a holiday or something else I'm not really sure. I only know that my wife, kissing me on our doorstep, wished me an ironic "Enjoy the job!". I would have preferred the classic "Enjoy yourself darling!" or "Relax, at least you can go away on holiday..." Food for thought! On the other hand we preferred to invest our money in a plane ticket for a destination which, in all likelihood, we would come to hate, tire and sweat, instead of wasting our pennies in some seaside resort... I suppose that's just the way we are!
The plane which touched down at Ankara witnessed 4 mountaineers disembark, all 4 not really spring chickens, each with more than 25 years of vertical careers placed firmly on their shoulders... put in other words, all could boast 40 years of life well-lived, without having ever wasted a single second. During the entire journey we talked about nothing else but mountains, rock faces, future projects... And in such we recognised each other, as if we had been lifetime friends. In fact we had met at Munich airport, the one stop-off prior to Turkey, seeing that we all lived in different cities. Our lives would become intertwined for the next 15 days, a long way away from home, snug in a lost mountain chain deep within Turkey.
Our baggage was comprised of two enormous parcels with "HEAVY" written all over them, while two apparently small and lightweight rucksacks belonged to the other two. The bags contained a drill and a serious number of shiny metal objects, strange metal hooks, energy bars, a tent, climbing boots etc. The rucksacks, those which seemed light when compared to the rest, contained ropes, pegs of all shapes and sizes, nuts and a series of strange metal objects which resembled metal cauliflowers... and a tent bought at a supermarket the previous day, designed more for nights on the beach rather than in the mountains. This is what the women at Customs saw with a simple X-Ray. She rubbed her chin, perplexed, and thought that these climbers were certainly traveling together, despite having so much different gear. But why were those with the haulbag carrying a drill, while the others weren't? And what would they be needing a drill for in August on Anatolia's sweltering plateau? Was this a mountaineering expedition or did the four perhaps intend to open a iron mongers at Ankara?
Marco and Mauro have already established a new route. We on the other hand are still battling it out with the first two pitches of this bastard face which the locals call Tranga since it reminds them of the Trango Towers. But to us it bears no resemblance whatsoever and the limestone is more the harsh for those who want to climb it from the ground up in the best possible manner! To our right there is a line of bolts which finishes after just 30 meters with a lower-off biner. We discover it was an attempt by a Swiss team, a strong pair, two years ago. After descending from here they established a 7c on the other side of the valley. Surely it must mean something if they turned back? The wall opens up towards the infinite skies and if you look at it from below you only see half of it. Perhaps this is a sign, too. I begin to get discouraged: if it's all like this, I'll never manage to finish this "job". And I get that feeling of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Rolly is nervous, too, he knows full well that just two and a half pitches per day, on a 600m wall, is far too little with the amount of time we've got left. But there are only the two of us and so we're better off keeping our thoughts to ourselves and giving it our best, by now we're in the boat and we’ve got to keep it rocking!
In the meantime Marco and Mauro greet us from down below. In just four hours they have established a nice new route and reached the summit. We're a mere 100m off the deck and we needed 12 hours to get this far.
At two the sun illuminates the face. At this point it seems as if we can continue to climb, that it's not too bad after all. But instead the sun inexorably dries our throats and beats down onto our heads, despite being protected by our helmets. Drinking helps, but not too much, and cramps lie in wait and our water supply is running low... which means when you have a sip you can feel your partner's eyes controlling you... terrible! Hauling the gear exhausts you and burns what little is left in your arms. This is why in the evening, after a 20 hour day, you can't stay awake. I for one stagger towards the tent and if I wasn't dying of hunger then I'd crawl directly into my sleeping bag.
We're now in base camp, invaded by flies and bees which seem to have gone crazy because of the heat and dryness. Calm returns only after sunset. Marco and Mauro celebrate their beautiful new route on the peak to the right of ours with a beer. They climbed 600m and reached a virgin summit. They left a cairn, a baba as it's called here, and measured the altitude with a GPS reading. Then they abseiled off. We too have finally finished our route, seeing that the upper section was relatively simple! But we'll need another hard day's work to free it, and it definitely won't be a walk-over.
It was almost 30°C on the summit. At over 3000m! They later told us that the thermometer hit 56°C that day at Adana. Unbelievable! But for days there hadn't been a cloud in sight! The night is illuminated by an enormous moon which marks the profile of the valleys and crests in this paradise called Ala Daglàr. I roll over in my sleeping bag and dream of my harness sawing through my legs.
Today we're accompanied by Recep, who took us in during our trip: he gave us his house as if it were our own. But now he's suspended above a sickening void, he's gasping for breath at the jumars, continually repeating "Allah, Allah!". I gasp as well on my pitch's obligatory traverse, when a foot seems to want to slip off from one moment to the next and I no longer make out my last pro which should stop the disastrous pendulum. Recep takes photos and videos us. Rolly laughs and chafes. He's cold he says. I'm boiling hot, my hands are sweating and my feet hurt. Recep continues to say "Good job, good job, guys!" Today his greatest gift will be the top of this inaccessible tower, on which only five or six people have set foot. He will be able to proudly show the photos to his friends.
We spent the last two days just a stone's throw from Recep and Zeynep's house in a limestone and conglomerate canyon, where our Turkish friends have begun to equip a crag for sports climbing. It seems a fantastic place with enormous potential. They call it Kazikli Valley because roughly 100 years ago a man called Kaziliki climbed an overhanging crack by driving sticks into it. He wanted to hide his honey in a small cave, and even if the plateau is 37°C hot, down here there's a cool dry wind. And this is why one can climb here in full-blown August. Zeynep, one of Turkey's strongest female climbers, attempts one of the two pitches I gave her. Rolly battles against an unending, overhanging arête up which he wanted to plant his final bolts. Marco moves up a wall via microscopic holds with his usual elegance, so much so that it's a pleasure to watch him climb. And Mauro is about to melt his new Nikon.
Our journey has come to an end, just 13 days which seemed an eternity. We depart with eyes full of light and virgin rock faces - I reckon we'll return once again. “Good job!” would be a fitting name for our route, seeing how often these words were repeated, but Zeynep proposes something more subtle, an expression by the mystical Sufi poet Mevlàna who lived in this area in the 13 century. “Here we say come to derwish…”, he says, “to invite all, regardless of faith or ethnic origin, to let themselves be enchanted by the dance, lose themselves within it, reach ecstasy..." “Come to derwish, Italian guys!” is what Zeynep seems to whisper whilst we load our baggage onto the Kangoo, enveloped in the old taxi’s driver’s cloud of cigarette smoke.
by Maurizio Oviglia
GUVERCINLIK VALLEY (Turchia)
LOWER GUVERCINLIK (TRANGA TOWER), 3000 m, W face
"Come to derwish" - Rolando Larcher and Maurizio Oviglia, helped by Recep Ince, 3/5/7 August 2006- redpoint 10 August 2006
600 m - 7b max (7a obligatory).
The route climbs a logical line up the impressive west face of the tower, attempted by Giovanni Quirici from Switzerland in 2004. A bolted route exists on the SW Face, presumably established by climbers from the Czech Republic. The climbing on "Come to derwish" is demanding and relentless in the first 2/3rds. 65 bolts, plus belays. Take kevlar loops for threads. Small camming devices may be found useful, though not used during the first ascent. Some sections exposed and obligatory.
MIDDLE GUVERCINLIK, 3185 m, W face
"Italian Classic" - Mauro Florit and Marco Sterni, 4/5 August 2006 -
600 m - VI+ max.
beautiful climbing which, according to the firstascentionists, is destined to become a classic. One bolt/belay, hand placed. In-situ pegs. Abseil descent. The summit was probably unclimbed prior to this ascent.
UPPER GUVERCINLIK, 3183 m, W face
"Remembering 1955" - Mauro Florit and Marco Sterni, 8 August 2006 -
500 m - VI+ max.
Nice climb up beautiful rock. Equipped belays.
YENICERI DAGI, 3073 m, E face
"Ocio muli!" - Mauro Florit and Marco Sterni, 3 August 2006 -
210 m - VI+ max.
Nice climb up good quality rock, difficult to protect. 4 in-situ pegs.
Natural woman, 7b (Maurizio Oviglia)
The king of Ala Daglar, 7b+ (Maurizio Oviglia)
Trans Ala Daglar, 7c+ (Rolando Larcher)
For info about the routes or logistics in the Ala Daglar massif contact Maurizio Oviglia (email@example.com) or Recep Ince (firstname.lastname@example.org)
We would like to thank Recep and Zeynep Ince for their hospitality and logistical help.
Mauro Florit and Marco Sterni thank the Società Alpina delle Alpi Giulie
Rolando Larcher thanks the following for technical gear: North Face, La Sportiva, Kong and Lizard
Maurizio Oviglia thanks the following for technical gear: La Sportiva, Kong and E9
Photos, from top: the incredible Parmakkaya tower (ph R. Larcher); Mauro Florit and Marco Sterni; Maurizio Oviglia and Rolando Larcher on the first section of Come to Derwish (ph M. Florit); Rolando Larcher on the summit at Lower Guvercinlik, Kaldi in the background (ph M. Oviglia); Mauro Florit bivvying in the freezing cold (ph M. Sterni).