Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Thursday 8 September 2011 - Sokulupinar (2000 metres) to the Yedigoller Plateau (3100 metres) via the Celikbuyduran Pass and Emler Peak (3723 metres)

Approx 16km, 1750m ascent, 8.75 hours including stops.

A fine mountain walk on another day of wonderful weather as the sun hammered down on our group of eighteen, now that Carey and Dave, who appears to have made a miraculous recovery despite being told by the village doctor to rest for three days, had rejoined the party.

Breakfast at 7am was a bit earlier than usual, but as we are going to sleep at around 10pm, and it gets light at 6am, it presented no problems to anyone except Jane, who tells us she lives in the shadow of a viaduct and is known at home as 'The Bag Lady of Hammersmith'.

Turan had laid on a special breakfast - Adam, who we wouldn't see for a couple of days, had manufactured a scrambled egg with mince and peppers dish.

After leaving our kit bags in a big pile, lunches were made - we manufacture our own from a wide selection of ingredients and fresh bread from the village, before setting off at 8am.

The climb to the col at 3450 metres took around six hours at Turan's 'steady' pace, including a long lunch and sunbathing break at a spring just below the col.

On the well graded ascent we were passed by our five or so ponies, carrying about five kit bags each and sundry other stuff. They looked happy, and are no doubt loved by their gentle owner.

It felt remote up at the pass, with barren landscapes in most directions, and jagged peaks backed by bright blue skies.

Turan's suggestion that last night had everyone scampering to their beds was discussed. The majority were in favour of a further 300 metre ascent to Mount Emler on this fine day. Turan wanted to keep the group together. Some felt unable to continue upwards. We would all therefore have to go down. Turan recognised some dissatisfaction with the decision and wisely split the large group into two. Six tired people descended to camp with Elif, reaching it by 3.30, for an early shower. The rest of us strolled on upwards for another hour, reaching the summit at 3pm.

It's a fine viewpoint with great views of the south side of Mount Demirkazik (the highest summit in the range) and of the distant volcanic peaks of Erciyes and Hasan, near Kayseri.

Many photos were taken and entries were made in the summit book - buried in a plastic bag under a pile of rocks. The cool wind we had encountered lower down wasn't really evident here.

The prospect of tea at camp eventually drew us away from our fine perch, and we headed back down another skittery path to the col. The 'skitters' took a further toll on Tessa's shorts; she is quite proud of her record of bum slides (five to date) and always comes up smiling.

Some small Saxifrage plants distracted us briefly, but it was a fairly speedy descent (pictured) from the col over bare rock with a shingly veneer, that drew us past a small lake to our neatly positioned campsite.

Mahmut is our cook here. A very jolly chap.

Swim club comprised Carey, who apparently had a quick dip, but the water is no doubt cool up here at 3100 metres.

The day finished with a history lesson from Turan - an overview of Turkish history and a little explanation of the 'Kurdish Problem'. I will not try to repeat the lesson here.

Dinner had been served soon after the sun went down at 6.15, after which it cools down quite a bit at this height. So although we have an enclosed dining tent, most folk had drifted off to the warmth of their sleeping bags by 9pm.

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