some fun, tall, easy problems on this road-side bo...
Recently highlighted in Climbing Magazine, this area is forecasted to see a lot more traffic. On the banks of Bafa Lake, a brackish, somewhat smelly body of water, the town of Herakleia is saturated in history with lots of ancient ruins all around the area. There are a number of "pensions," like a bed and breakfast but with a Turkish style, where you can stay. We stayed at Selene's Pension run by Tomer and his brother, both super nice and helpful. It's about as nice as one can expect in that part of the world and Tomer's mom is a great cook! We didn't take pads because they're so bulky as luggage and we didn't want to pay extra for them. Fortunately, the previous crew left a couple pads at Selene's with Tomer, which he graciously let us borrow for free. Another good reason to stay there...
Expect to be surrounded by pretty Third World conditions as the locals here are pretty poor. Every morning at dawn they all ride their donkeys and/or walk and drive their cows along the roads and back again in the evening. Roosters are crowing, donkeys braying, cows mooing, the whole cacophony there in town where you'll probably be staying. These people scratch out a living from the numerous olive trees, farming, and what tourists come their way. As a result, you can expect to be approached by Turkish women looking to sell their wares at every opportunity, something that may be kind of abrasive-feeling for Westerners.
I don't know enough about Herakleia climbing to designate areas, nor do I know the names of problems or boulders, so I'm not going to add those here. We just explored a lot and climbed what we found. Hopefully those who know better than me will add those things. But there is A LOT of rock which is made up mostly of a rough, rotting granite, very similar to Lumpy Ridge. As a result, and given the nature of bouldering, the rock is rough on your hands. Bring lots of tape. Some problems were comprised of good granite...on others, every hand/foot hold either broke or crumbled until we just gave up. Scarier problems require you to pebble-pinch on dubious holds!
I don't think there is any official camping in Herakleia and, though I'm sure it's possible, it might be frowned on by the locals. It's better to just stay at Selene's or compatible as the grocery stores aren't likely the carry the climbers' staples we're accustomed to in the States. Selene's provided us with a room, breakfast and dinner for about $80/night; there's also a bar there with wine, beer, and whatever else.
There don't appear to be any access issues around Herakleia. We crawled over/under fences, through gates, into farm and cow fields, often in front of the land-owners without any issues whatsoever. The American concept of "ownership-of-land" seems to be less of an issue. Sometimes the farmers/herders would wander over to watch our rediculous efforts on "their" boulders, encouraging and cheering us. Of course, courtesy and common sense go a long way. I asked Tomer if there was anywhere we couldn't/shouldn't go and he implied that we could go anywhere we pleased. There are snakes, apparently, but no poisonous ones (we were told) but we saw a lot of tortoises on the hillsides.
As to area classics and must-do's...well, maybe they'll be more apparent when the Herakleia bouldering video comes out next year.
Quicker drive from Izmir. If you're going to combine the trip with other areas, Antalya is another option. Dalaman is also an option. I would recommend having a car. If you do rent a car (we paid $240/week), the gas is about $2.5/liter so it ain't cheap and driving in Turkey can be something of an art. There aren't really speed limits, the signs are never in english, there aren't lanes, road rules, and from start to finish it'll keep you feeling alive, especially in the cities. But there is very little traffic so you can get from A to B relatively quickly. In Antalya we found ourselves driving on the lightrail/subway/train tracks more than once and no one even looked at us twice, including the police. It seems anything and everything goes which is nervewracking at first...but then gets really, really fun! The fortunate thing about Turkey is that they have good roads and VERY good road signs telling you where to go; all you need is a map with city names and you'll find your way.
From Antalya, head to Korkuteli, then Fethiye, then Dalaman and Mugla. From Mugla follow the signs to Milas, and then follow that until you enter the town of Bafa (blink and it's gone). Once in Bafa, look north (right in this case) for signs heralding Herakleia. Follow this slowly-diminishing road past Golyaka (another tiny town) and into Herakleia. The various Pensions are all signed.
Climbing Season For the Turkey area.
Weather station 16.1 miles from here
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