September 15, 2004
Traversing Kaškar day two through fourSince I never got a chance to keep up with my blog while I was in Turkey, I figured that I'd spend the next few days filling in the gaps.
We awoke the next morning to clear skies. After a quick breakfast we stowed our gear and began the ascent over the 3292 meter high Caymakcur Pass. The path lead steadily up and we could see the meadow below from atop the rocks. Form there it was a steady descent four hour descent to the village of Olgunlar. We were tempted by the beds and the showers of the newly built Pension, but we resisted and pitched our tent just outside of town. That night, Mehmet slept at home.
The next morning he arrived with mule and we decamped for the gradual climb back up into the mountains. The path was a gentle slope up towards the camp site at Dilber Düzü. Four hours later, we arrived at the plain. A large group was just coming down from the mountain. They had woke at six to climb up to the glacial lake at Deniz Golü, which they said was spectacular. I asked how long it had taken them, and an older woman said three hours. But for someone in shape it shouldn't take more than two.
We said goodbye to our mule and Mehmet and shouldered our packs for the climb. The path followed switchbacks up the trail, crossing small streams of water until the the track became completely rocky. In about an hour and a half we were rewarded with our first view of the lake. It was much larger than Buyuz Deniz Golu, but with fewer camp sites. A few tents lined the near edge of the lake. Two or three tents dotted a hill overlooking it. We looked for a place to camp and then one camp told us they were leaving, offering their site on top of the hill. We pitched our tent inside a round rock enclosure, our front flap overlooking the lake below.
The next morning we woke at five. Clouds hung over the peaks. We ate breakfast and watched while a group of three broke off to start their climb. We soon followed, passing the two Isreali girls we had been walking with. They were finishing breakfast and we bid them good luck.
The initial climb was gradual. At a small ridge there was a steep ascent to another glacial lake nestled in a small bowl. We caught up with the group of three and paused to take pictures, watching them proceed. The next three hours were spent spotting cairns and making our way up the face of Kackar. The clouds came and went, and at one point it started hailing. We hunkered down for a few minutes, until one person from the other group said if we didn't keep moving we'd freeze.
The last 400 meters we scrambled up scree and rocks, climbing sharply with each step until we made the ridge. Looking over it, we looked straight down. Looking back, we could see three glacial lakes dotting the range. The peaks were sharp, jutting in and out of the clouds. The scenery was beautiful.
At Buyuk Deniz Golu, I had asked a trekker on his way back from the mountain what the ridge was like. He said it was like a knife. I asked other people how wide it was and they repeated the same descriptions. I was surprised to find how accurate the description was.
I had also asked Ed what he liked most about trekking. He told me it was the views. Atop the ridge, my fear of heights got the better of me. Looking at the clouds rising from the plains and the steep drops on either side, I decided the view wasn't going to change much at the summit and I let Ed go on with out me.
Later, one of the other climbers told me that I had missed nothing. The clouds moved in and everything at the summit was white. Ed told me also that we were just 10-15 minutes shy from the summit, and that the path grew wider as you approached it. He also said that he was thinking of death with every step.
Three hours later we were back at camp. The day had cleared. The girls had begun their ascent but then turned back when the hail started, unwilling to chance that the weather would take a turn for the worst. We struck camp and shared breakfast with the three other climbers and then began the long trudge back to Olgunlar.
By the time we arrived in the village night was falling. On the outskirts of town we could see the Isreali girls had made camp. We arrived at the lone guesthouse at seven thirty. The owner had built a new building next to his old guesthouse, all in wood with carpets running the length of the floors. We ordered fish for dinner and struggled up the stairs to our room. I tossed off my pack. I showered twice. My feet were throbbing. My legs ached. I lay on the bed refusing to move. But eight o'clock rolled around and the promise of warm çay and fresh trout brought me to my legs. We ambled down the stairs to spacious dining room lit with flourescent lights and tucked into dinner. Posted by eku at September 15, 2004 3:39 PM