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Turkey fun

28 Mar 2008

Arriving back at Manchester airport in the drizzle Nic and I couldn’t believe that a few hours earlier we’d been enjoying the balmy luxury of our wooden veranda with stars overhead.  Actually our chalet style hut turned a few jealous heads from our camping friends.  The josito camp run by a group of friendly Germans nestles within the crags of Geyikbayiri, one of the major sport climbing destinations in Turkey and probably the best set up for visiting climbers like us.  Only 45 minutes from the airport in Antalya you are transported up into the mountains into a world without phone boxes, internet or the need for a car.

Crag and Antalya

My aim for the trip, apart from enjoying myself, was to climb as many routes as I could to prepare for the forthcoming trip in September with Steve.  And did I find some crackers!  I managed 52 routes, which doesn’t include ones I did more than once because they were so good!  I have no doubt that this place rivals Kalymnos in every way offering such a variety of climbing styles.  My favourites were Bizon 6a+ (we did it 4 times – incredible, intricate, sustained climbing up twin tufas) and Geyikbayiri Games 7b+ (a pure, single tufa up a slightly leaning wall) both at Sarkit, Aquaplan 6b+ at Trebenna (no hands rest to no hands rest with tufa obstacles in between), Dragonfly 7a, Spanish Thanksgiving 7a+ and finally Gizmo 7c (an amazing steep, short tufa so good the first ascensions named it after his dog).  I was happy with my climbing managing to flash 7b+, which considering my winter of bouldering was not too bad at all.

Whilst we only ended up being able to say hello, please and thank you in Turkish we did get an impression of the country.  Our route to the local town was a walk or a hitch; an easy hitch, the first car always stopped.  We ate out at local restaurants including multiple visits to the shack as we called it, perched just under the main cliffs, which offers tea (chai), salad and either fish, meat or veg.  The people were exceptionally friendly – their smiles were unforced and genuine.

Fresh food

Our other highlight of the trip was the food.  We plucked succulent oranges from wild fruit trees, ate never ending supplies of goats cheese and dined out every evening.  We ate most of the time at the josito camp joining in with the communal meal and other times went to the shack or local fish restaurant.  The bar and the josito camp didn’t go untouched either and those Germans like their booze.  When free shots of jagermeister were passed round to celebrate Nic’s birthday I was tipped somewhat over the balance and found myself doing ‘Dirty Dancing’ jumps and leaps with Garan.  Oh dear.

So, I've set up a photo gallery.  I was mightily disappointed with the selection of shots from my own camera when I downloaded them.  Fortunately Alex Messenger helped me out a bit and I’m expecting some more from friends with better camera skills.

As I stare outside right now to the usual different shades of grey, my fitness, keenness and tan are fading fast.  Hopefully the sun will come out again soon and I can hit the crags…  PS can someone actually comment on my tan please.

Please note that I have changed the first week of our holiday in September so it will be cooler.  The weeks are as follows:  week 1: 21-28th Sept, week 2: 28th Sept to 5th Oct.  Click here to find out more.

Blockbuster goes down and credit card payments are on

05 Mar 2008

 6c Yule Log boulder Caley Yesterday Fiona and I took advantage of the dreamy grit conditions and we headed back up to Caley.  I needed to strike whilst the iron was hot and the rest day paid off.  Blockbuster (7b+) didn't go particularly smoothly, when I realised I hadn't worked the top properly, but eventually success did come.  At least I did the move which has been stopping me all these years, which was really the main thing I wanted to get out of it:  the principle of being able to hold that hold!  Here is a pic of another classic arete (6c), which always gets me pumped (!) down below the Sugarloaf.

The site is now ready to take credit card payments!  Finally!  Things never run smoothly.  So that should make it easier for you to book on our September holiday.  My research tells me this is a simple system to use, but please let me know if it isn't.

On Friday Nic and I are heading off to Turkey to have a holiday (of course) but also to scope out the area properly for the trip Steve McClure and I are running.  So expect lots of nice photos and a report about the area when I get back.  I hope you all have a good Easter too...

Drizzle, wind and hangovers - the UK in winter

03 Mar 2008


Its been a busy week and half since Buoux.  It was immediately followed by 3 days coaching in London and then a great day at Gardoms, which was surprisingly productive despite almost constant drizzle.  I discovered Mark’s Roof which I never knew was there.  I managed the classic 7a quickly and then another 7a next to Heartland (7c) on another block I’d also never seen before.  I don’t know why it doesn’t get a name, it should do.  I advertise on this site that I have a great knowledge of the Peak – well after that day I realised it can’t be that good.  Vic and I shuffled around on Brad Pit 7c+ at Stanage the following day but it was so cold – at least that’s our excuse.  There’s a knack and between us we’ve got our head around it kind of.  Would like to go back when I can feel my fingers and toes – it’s a superb problem.

On Thursday Ben Heason and I did a radio interview for Sheffield Community Live, quite good fun and fascinating to watch the stresses of being a radio presenter.  This was all to help advertise the Sheffield Film Festival at the weekend.  That afternoon I taught my regular drug and alcohol rehab group at the Climbing Works.  What with all my travels and other work I hadn’t seen them in about 3 weeks and it suddenly struck me just how some of them have come on, especially watching them cruising the steepest 6bs or discussing how to improve their finger strength on poor holds.  Of course climbing is the only way of life as far as I’m concerned and I feel privileged to be able to share my passion with others in this way.

Saturday involved being tantalisingly close to Blockbuster 7b+ at Caley.  Before I went I told myself I wouldn’t go on it, but once again at the end of the day I found myself taking up my annual position of frustratingly jumping up to fondle the first sloper and immediately fall back down again – the crux.  But this time I was actually holding the hold properly getting my feet on and moving upwards but something was stopping me grabbing the crimp.  There are more moves after this, but I can do them no problem.  There’s something about the damn thing that drags me back.  This has turned into battle and a matter of principle – I can’t let the rock have its way.  I want mine.  Hopefully I’ll get back up there soon.

Nic and I drove up that evening to spend a fantastic night with Nottingham University Climbing Club in the Langdales, Lakes.  I was invited to give an after-dinner talk; a first for me.  Nic and I were treated to such splendid hospitality that the next day’s plans of navigating on complicated ground seemed impossible with foggy and painful heads.  For once I couldn't be bothered - I'm on such a tight schedule nowadays that even going for a walk has to have an outcome, what with all this MIA stuff - a shame really on such an atmospheric day - the above photo showed it off in all its glory.  We had such a good time and all memories of my university club days flooded back.  Thanks NUUMC!

Nic hungover