So, just what is the Petzl RocTrip?
Every year French climbing manufacturer Petzl pick a sport climbing area that has potential for new routes. Alongside local climbers they bolt lots of new lines. They invite their athletes and the public (yes that's right, you can pay to come on the RocTrip, and get food and camping, and join in the evening activities) to get together and join the fun. It's like a climbing festival.
Usually they just visit one area, and also bolt some super hard routes for their athletes to try (in a kind of unofficial, laid back competition style) but this year they decided to do a road trip.
In what must have been a nightmare of logistics, the Petzl Caravan travelled through Macedonia, Bulgaria, Greece and finally landed in Turkey, putting up new routes and boulder problems along the way, all culminating in a last night party, marking the end of nearly 3 months of travelling.
As a journalist I was invited just for the final leg of the trip through Turkey, meeting the climbers, testing out the new Petzl gear, but mainly doing as many pitches of steep Turkish limestone as I could before my arms gave out.
From my brief introduction to the RocTrip, the over riding message I got was that the Petzl RocTrip does a great job of equipping new areas for climbers to enjoy, as well as engaging with the local climbing community of the areas it visits. Below is a brief account of my few days on the trip; a whistle-stop tour of the climbing venues of the Antalya area.
Arriving in Turkey I was hastily greeted by the touristic hustle and bustle of a warm evening in Antalya’s old town, enriched by the smells of fried street food and a soundtrack of badly played pop-rock blaring from the bars, contrasting the old buildings with their carved wooden doors and ancient eastern style.
But it was all go on this trip, with no time to wander the tourist old town, and after a quick night’s sleep we were off in a bus to the nearby climbing paradise of Geyikbayiri (see the UKC Destination article). I’d been there 8 years previous and was keen to see how the place had changed. A few more campsites and log cabins adorned the fields below the endless orange tufas, but with the exception of a lot more bolted routes and a little bit more polish, the small mountain village, just 30 minutes from Antalya, had stayed remarkably the same.
We didn’t stay long here (I would have liked to, as it is the best climbing in the area by far), but we were soon whisked off to the new wonder crag Citidbi, a gorge of blue tufas, organ piping like 50m snakes down a huge sweep of limestone. Despite the amazing appearance and ease of stunning photography, there isn’t a lot of routes here for the average climber. However those with 8b arms might want to spend a while testing their endurance against the never-ending drainpipes.
Citdibi feels new and wild, and sits in a commanding position overlooking the Mediterranean, however this could be set to change, perhaps for the better if you’re a visiting climber, as a guest house and accommodation (a small scale, hippy-looking affair) was due to open just a few minutes walk from the crag, and with a little more traffic, some of the currently dusty routes will clean up in to stellar endurance lines, somewhat akin to the central tufas of Oliana in Spain.
After Citdibi we high-tailed it (well we wound our way, lost for several hours, along dusty mountain roads) to reach the beach side area of Olympos. Having been to Turkey before, but not having had the chance to visit Olympos, I was hoping to be in for a treat. Well, what can I say, it was a little different.
The atmosphere of the Tree Houses was great, a beautiful hippy retreat with campfires, cool music and an over-priced bar. With around 200 people on the Petzl RocTrip living on top of each other it was inevitable that dirtbag climbers’ hygiene would result in an epidemic of vomiting and diarrhoea, with a reported 50 people projecting from both ends. Luckily for me I’m from Yorkshire and not only do we never get cold, we are also impervious to disease, so I was fine, as I am sure you’re pleased to hear.
But what about the climbing? Well, there is a DWS venue around an hour boat ride from Olympos, and it looks great, but it isn’t Mallorca.
The routes on the left of the crag are short and easy enough, and actually give pleasant soloing up to around 6b. The centre of the crag gives really high challenges. There is a central line that is possible to top out, and it looks about 7a, but the top 5m is more soloing than deep water soloing. And there’s a few lines that climb to half way and they look tough.
All in all there is a day’s sport here, with a fun and easy to arrange boat journey, and lots of swimming, but don’t come looking to push your DWS grade like you might in Mallorca.
The sport climbing around Olympos is pretty good, but not world class. There’s a few sectors and they offer steep tufa pulling and Pembroke-esque vertical climbing, all a stone’s throw from a huge pebble beach.
For a couple of days at the end of a climbing trip, Olympos could provide some final routes and a beach holiday vibe, but for those who view a climbing trip as 99% 'climbing' vs 1% ‘holiday’, then its Geyikbayiri all the way, just don’t forget your knee pad.
A special mention has to go to Steve McClure. Flying the flag for UK sport climbing for over a decade, Steve can still keep up with the likes of Dave Graham and the other super-climbers.
Chatting to Steve at the crag, he told me he'd only had one easy day on the whole trip, the rest of the time he'd been trying hard, despite having a bad cold and being quite ill. I wondered what an easy day for Steve McClure was, turns out he'd only onsighted 2 7cs and tried an 8b...
Just how does the unassuming family man from Sheffield stay so fit? Maybe his secret will be inside the pages of his forthcoming autobiography. Steve's book is coming out soon, and I for one am keen to have a read.
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