This is the second fact file article to sport climbing in Antalya, Turkey. Whilst the first centred on Geyikbayiri to the west, here we look at the climbing and logistical knowledge required for climbing at the prime spot of Olympos, which itself is situated on the coast, 85km south of Antalya.
Olympos is not only home to one of the most important historical cities of ancient Lycia, but also an excellent array of sport climbing crags too. The small village of Olympos hosts around 200 routes. These are beautifully situated amongst the forest, surrounded by mountains, and are a mere 5 minute walk from a picturesque beach and the crystal clear waters of the southern Mediterranean. A true Turkish Delight! Olympus's history and idyllic setting have lead it to become a must visit for those backpacking in this part of the world. As such, the atmosphere here is somewhat different to many destinations I have visited on previous climbing trips; making for a pleasant change. The area is a perfect solution for those wanting a change of scenery from nearby Geyikbayiri or those who wish to travel Turkey and include a bit of climbing. No particular style of climbing dominates the crags of Olympos, with each area requiring a different skill set to perform well. For example, Cennet (Turkish for heaven) is the most popular sector, set in an idyllic location amongst the trees and above the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean. The climbing is thin and technical, think Styx sector at Buoux. In contrast, Horguc, the roadside crag in the centre of the village, is steep, burly and physical, and would not seem out of place in Kalymnos. As well as these two areas there are another five or so sectors each offering something different again.
Best Time to Go and Conditions
The main season is from September till the end of May, although it can still be a bit warm and humid at each end of the season. However, the daily sea breeze does help significantly, so sync your watches and time your redpoints wisely. Due to the sporadic layout of the crags, either shade or sun can be sort out for either morning or afternoon session to suit the conditions.
The nearest airport is Antalya (85km to the north) which is serviced by several budget operators. Return flights can be found from most UK airports for around £120 to £250. Once at the airport you have several options: for those on a tight schedule or don’t mind splashing out, you’ll probably want to hire car, this will cost between €20-25 a day. Just a quick warning the roads are mental! So if this unnerves you, it may be worth booking a taxi transfer – this can usually be sorted through your accommodation provider. However, this company is slightly cheaper email@example.com. Expect to pay around €50-60 each way. For those who are slightly more adventurous or on a budget, it is possible to get to Olympos via three buses. First, take a bus or the shuttle to the Otogar (main bus station) in Antalya. From here you catch a minibus to Kumluca which stops at the bus stop on the main Olympos turning. The information desk will direct you to the correct bus. Here a connecting bus will be waiting for you and take you down to your accommodation. The whole journey will set you back about 15 Turkish Lira [TL] (£6) and takes about two and a half hours. If traveling from Geyikbayiri it takes an hour and a hal f by car and a day trip is easily possible. firstname.lastname@example.org also offer a taxi service to Olympos from Geyikbayiri for around €50 each way. Once here, the climbing is extremely accessible – with the furthest crags a 20 minute walk away. So you shouldn’t need a car. Finally, it is worth mentioning that the beach and some of the crags fall within the National Park which contains the ancient ruins. Unfortunately, this means that you have to pay the entrance fee of 3TL (£1.20) per person each time you go or by a yearly card for 8 TL (£3.50).
Accommodation & Provisions
There is plenty of accommodation around Olympos. My recommendation would be Kadir’s Tree Houses. With the appropriate motto “you came, you saw, you stayed and stayed and stayed and stayed...”. Located in the enchanted valley of Olympos, it offers various dwellings from camping (15TL), dorms (25TL), tree houses (35TL) and bungalows (45TL). The price includes breakfast and a buffet dinner, both of which are excellent and you can return for seconds, thirds, etc. Furthermore, if that wasn’t good enough climbers receive a further 15% discount. On site, you can also find WI-FI, a couple of bars, a pizza house, a small climbing sector and more. Also, during our stay, Kadir’s had an agreement with the park entrance allowing its guests in for free when you travel on their shuttle bus to beach and beach side crags. Olympos, is a small, touristy village that swells in size during the summer months. There are plenty of mini-markets and restaurants selling typical Turkish produce. Whilst here, I thoroughly recommend dining on some Gozleme (savoury pancakes) and Cay (tea), especially as this will only set you back £1.50 each!
Olympos is covered in detail in the 2009 ‘Rock Climbing Guide to Antalya (available here). With plenty of travel info, inspiring action shots, clear topos and easy to use maps; the guide is one of the most interest-grabbing guides in recent years. An updated version is due out shortly, with a further 50 routes for this area. Until then, ask for new route details at Kadir’s Activity Centre.
Grade Spread & Recommended Routes
Due to the variety of crags, there is something for climbers of all levels at Olympos. The main concentration of routes are in the 5b to 8a range with the hardest route here being an 8c slab! To get the most out of Olympos you will want to be climbing in the 6a-7c range. Furthermore, the grades do have a holiday feel to them, so don’t be afraid to push yourself a little harder. Finally, for those operating in the higher levels there won’t be much keeping you here for more than a week’s stay. My recommendations would be: Angel 5b, Manik Depresif 6a+, Cennet Cehennem 7a, Sahte Budist 7a+, Bittersweet 7b+, Paradise Lost 7b+, Die Another Day 7c+, Monkey Factor 8a, Pussy Wagon 8a+.
Deep Water Soloing
The walls on the shore between Yarasalı, Olympos and Adrasan offer fantastic DWS. The rock features tufas and pockets and ranges from 8 to 20 meters high above deep water. It tends to be overhanging but there are also sections that are more vertical. The sectors are only reachable by a 20 minute boat trip. Kadir’s Activtiy Centre offer trips for €32 per person (Min: 4 People). This includes: transport from Olympos to Adrasan and back, lunch and a guide.
When you land in Turkey you will be required to buy a 90 day visa, you can pay in Euros or Sterling, but it is cheaper to pay in Sterling (£10). Also bring out a mix of Euros and New Turkish Lira. Both will come in handy. The usual sport climbing equipment is required (12+ quickdraws and a 60m rope would be sufficient) plus suncream and insect replant! I would recommend getting the guide before you arrive and taking plenty of chalk, tape and other essentials as climbing supplies are hard to acquire here. For rest days, the beach is a good place to start, the sea is extremely inviting and warm. For a more active rest, you can book on to the various activities on offer: from boat trips to quad biking and canyoning to fishing. It is also possible to check out the famous chimera flames via an hour’s hike or by booking on a tour.
Photos Copyright The images 1, 4, 5 & 6 in the article above are taken from the excellent guide book to the area (A Rock Climbing Guide To Antalya) and the top image is from rollglobal.org. All other images are the property of the author.