Ala Dag Mountains, Demirkazik, east face, Uc Muz. Parmakkaya, east face, Mezza Luna Nascente. Occasionally in jazz three people from different backgrounds join forces to form a trio, with the aim of playing just one type of music. In 2003 Rolando Larcher, Michele Paissan, and I found ourselves in the Atlas Mountains with the fine prospect of spending 25 days together on the great walls of Taghia. The new route we created is, according to Arnaud Petit, the best he has ever climbed. Two years passed, during which time each of us was involved with our own projects.
When it was time to play the music again, the trio regrouped. We searched for new ground in which to express ourselves. We are interested in creating modern hard routes in unknown areas, where we have to locate an objective, possibly without knowing what the rock will be like, or whether there will be rock at all. Improvisation is the name of the game.
After a slideshow in Turin, Renzo Barbiè, a passionate ski-mountaineer. approached me. He confided, “I know a place in Turkey like Taghia. I’ve been skiing there. I’ll e-mail you photos, and when we meet up again you can show me photos of the new routes you climb.”
You can imagine the rest. At the beginning of July the trio landed at Ankara. We spent the first days exploring the length of the mountain range, until we suddenly discovered the wall of our dreams. We established base camp at 2,900m and walked up to the foot of the wall. Damn it! There were no holds, and we couldn’t climb the line. However, there was another wall, 700m high, on a formation directly above base camp. We decided to go for it.
At times rocks whistled down, and the environment felt more high-mountain than craglike. However, the weather was splendid, often without a cloud in sight. It was hot in the sun and cold in the shade, T-shirt to down jacket in less than 15 minutes. In 10 days we finished and freed an outstanding route, reaching the 3,756m summit of Demirkazik at 5 p.m. on a clear, colorful day. It seemed as though the world was truly at our feet. We named our 650m east face route Uc Muz; it had 13 pitches, with difficulties of 8a (7b obl).
With two Turkish climbers, Recep and Zeynep Ince, we attempted the much-feared French route on the 270m obelisk of Parmakkaya (2,800m), which had only received three ascents in the 10 years since it was first climbed. The maximum difficulties are 7b, but we had to climb the entire route with the potential for 20m falls. We managed an onsight ascent on another memorable day. On the way down Roily stopped too often to look at Parmakkaya. As if in a trance, blown over by the beauty of the obelisk, he couldn’t go away without another line.
Two 14-hour, hailstorm-ridden days brought us again to the slender summit of Parmakkaya, climbing in turns and freeing the pitches the same day. Some pockets were still filled with hail, but our new line on the east face, Mezza Luna Nascente, had difficulties of 7c (7a+ obl). Is this improvisation, or simply desire to play the music, and to continue even when the concert is over and the audience has gone home?
Note: Climbers interested in putting up new bolt-protected routes in the Ala Dag should know that bolting is currently the subject of vigorous debate. Contact local climbers first, to clarify the current situation. Prospective visitors are encouraged to write to Recep Ince at email@example.com
Maurizio Oviglia, Sardinia, Italy