We bring you another tip for the Datca climbing area, this time in transcontinental Turkey. A series of interviews with Rafiki Ambassador Mattia Conte, who travels the world discovering the best climbing spots and interviewing local climbing icons.
It's such a huge country that you would need months to really get to know the local culture, the people and all the mountains and incredible nature
Travelling and climbing in Turkey has been quite an experience. The country it’s so, so huge that you would need months to truly experience its people, the incredible nature, all the mountains and amazing cliffs, the sandy beaches and local wonderful cuisine!
Between tourist places and discovering nice villages, I ended up checking all the spots of the country. I started at the mountains of Aladağlar and I fell in love with their breathtaking location and alpine setting. I visited the world-famous Cappadocia, then I moved to Geyikbayiri with its international audience and after that, I escaped from the crowded crags to visit Citdibi, a place with blue and grey limestone walls.
After this, I pass through the famous Olympos where you may even experience DWS (deep water soloing, author’s note) on sharp coastal limestone and finally all the way headed west to Datca, where it’s almost impossible not to get obsessed with the climbing lines in Can Baba, the little cosy village and lovely people.
Here I met Aykut Özalp, a local climber, guide, and developer of the climbing crags close to the Datca.
Aykut, introduce yourself and tell us a bit more about you and your influence role in the Datca...
Hey there! My name is Aykut Özalp, I was born and raised in Datca and I have been climbing for more than ten years now. A breakthrough moment for me was in the year 2013 when I met Olivier Nicolet, who started bolting routes in this area. I got so much love with the whole process so I started to help him with work at his camp and as an exchange he taught me how to bolt a line.
I am a local guide now and because of that, I know all the corners and walls of Datca. I am helping other climbers who come here for the first time with anything that they need to have a blast in this area. Amongst other things, I lead introduction courses for people who want to start climbing. I’m indeed a guide and member of the Turkish Mountaineering Federation (TMF) and last but not least, I'm also the owner of a pastry shop in Datca harbour, so if you want to reward yourself after climbing, you know where to find me! (he laughs)
I'm also the owner of a sweet shop in the harbour, so if you want to reward yourself after climbing, you know where to find me!
Can you tell us a bit more about Datca and its climbing history? When did the climbing start here?
Well, Datca is one of the most recent areas for climbing in Turkey. It’s located in the southwest of the country, and its history started with Olivier Nicolet who discovered the area and the great potential of it. Olivier is a Swiss mountain guide and he did most of the first and major developments between 2013 and 2016. The area now counts around 300 sport climbing routes and one-third of them are graded 7a and harder...
All sectors are newly drilled and offer quality lines, but there is still potential for development. May someone come and help you with bolting?
It’s almost impossible to notice the potential of this area. There are plenty of routes to climb hard on tufas and high-quality limestone, but there could be so much more. Unfortunately, the economic situation of the area doesn’t allow us to expand at the moment plus all the gear needs to be imported and that makes it kind of challenging.
Luckily several top climbers from all over the world come here and spend their time climbing and bolting on their funds or financial support from their home countries. And we are grateful for it!
All the necessary drilling equipment and materials must be imported, which can be a complicated process
During my stay, I noticed a varied mix of local and international climbers. How is the community reacting to a strong presence of foreigners?
It’s great to have so many people from different places around the world. Having people there helps grow the climbing community and we can show the foreigners how proud we are of our nature and those climbing walls, its potential and the possibility to become one of the biggest world climbing destinations!
You bolted a few routes in this area. Which lines are you the most proud of?
All the routes have a particular meaning for me, but the one I’m proud of the most is called “Yiğit” in the Çocuklar sector, and it’s named after my son. (he smiles)
"Indian Man" is the most famous sector, but there are many other places worth visiting. Is there anything you can recommend?
The Can Baba is one of the main climbing symbols in Datca, but checking up on other sectors around will result in a very pleasant surprise. For example, "Sucuk" is an excellent crag with climbing for everyone. It offers you wonderful routes and shade in the morning.
"Canyon", a sector bit further from the centre that hides routes on sharp rock and a pleasant ambience. Plus it is close to the sea, so you can go for a dive after your climbing! For climbing in winter months, "Shaman" is a great option as it’s in the sun the whole day.
If you have just a little amount of time for climbing, try "Balik" with its short and powerful routes. Also, there are a couple of multi-pitches and they give you a different sight of the area. Hopefully, we can have the chance to bolt more routes in all these impressive walls!
The "Can Baba" area is a significant symbol of sport climbing in Datca
What is the best season for climbing in Datca? Is there a possibility of climb all year round?
Spring and Fall are the best seasons for climbing in Datca because of the most favourable conditions. You can climb also in winter in the sunny sectors. I definitely wouldn’t recommend the summer because it gets really hot there. But the close sea is refreshing so you can come anyway! (he laughs)
Datca has plenty of activities, but what would you recommend for rest days when I need to chill out?
The rest days here might be pretty busy! There is plenty of hiking and the famous Lycian Way passes through there. Except for that: swimming, snorkelling, wind & kite surfing. Besides you can visit the ancient city of Knidos, eat local delicious food and get perfectly ready for your next climb!
There are numerous hiking trails in Datca, including the famous "Lycian Way" trail.
Local/climber relationships can be complicated. How are all climbers treated in this area?
Datca is already a tourist area for non-climbers, so people are used to seeing different new faces all the time. Of course, climbing has brought a new kind of tourism, but it’s also good for the local small businesses! Everybody is welcome!
Climbing has become a popular form of tourism, providing a sustainable source of income for local businesses.
Could you recommend other climbing destinations and places to visit in Turkey?
Datca is just one of the various climbing spots in Turkey. If you want to visit other crags, you can’t miss Geykabayiri in Antalya, Bafa Lake for bouldering or Aladağlar, where you can combine mountain trekking with trad and sport climbing.
Can you suggest three routes that are a "must climbs" in the area?
Difficult to answer. Let’s go with: “Sucuk Power” 7c, “Meltem” 7b/b+, “Rüzgar” 7b+. And two extra classics: “Can Baba” 6c+ and “Big Can Baba” as the extension of the previous route, graded 8b+.
What would you recommend to someone who wants to come to Turkey for the first time?
Just enjoy! Be respectful of our nature and again: enjoy as much as possible!
On The Crag there is a complete guidebook free to download. It's not common to see such a thing in the climbing world. Can you tell us more?
As it’s a very new climbing area, Oliver Nicolet and Ulf Fuchslueger from The Crag website wanted information to be available for everyone. In this way, it would be easier for locals and foreigners to discover Datca, climb its routes and contribute to the development of the area.
There is also a hard copy available in the local shops or in the camp, where you can buy this guidebook to support our local climbing community. But the idea of Olivier and Ulf is that the more information is accessible to everyone, the better it is for the area growing and we are grateful for their choice!
The idea of Olivier and Ulf is that the more information is freely accessible to everyone, the better it is for the area itself and its development!
All right Aykut. Thanks for chatting with me and I hope to see you soon again and where else than in Datca crags!
You're welcome! Looking forward to seeing you, Mattia, and all the other climbers from around the world.
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