Rock Climbing Photography

Bouldering at Bafa Lake, Turkey

We were four boulderers, bored to death by the cold Sofia winter and the stinking gym. The snow, the frost and the smog – it all sucked. We needed sun and bouldering outdoors.

It is good to have Google, you know – 15 min search and we found the nearest sunny spot that appears to have plenty rock to play on. It was easy to make a decision and off we go to Bafa Lake, Turkey. Sixteen hours of drive and we were there, exhausted but really psyched by the millions boulders that were all around us. And it was damn beautiful…

Bafa Lake is a hot tourist place in the summer months but it is too hot for the keen boulderers. That is why being there around Christmas is just wonderful – temperatures around 15 C with plenty of sun and almost no rain, no noisy tourists and the low prices of the low season.

We found ourselves among ancient Greek ruins and the echo of ancient history dating back to the Bronze Age. In the village there were well preserved ruins of the ancient city Heraklea and in the mountain we found a lot of prehistorical cave paintings which made this place even more special.

The Bafa Lake is a huge salt water lake that used to be a part of the Aegean Sea but now formed as a lake by the sand masses brought by the river Meander. With plenty of fish and bird species Bafa Lake is a wonderful place to be and observe the beauty of nature.

The existing village Kapikiri is a beautiful rural village full of genuine local people, all very kind and always smiling. There are a dozen of “pansyon”s – family hotels that offer a nice room, shower and tasty Turkish cuisine for reasonable prices, especially if you are there in the low season. We stayed at the Pelikan Pansyon as this appears to be the climbers spot where the local climbers usually stay and keep a hand drawn guide book of the already opened boulder problems. Our arrival was a nice surprise for the bored owner of the pansyon as it appeared that we ware his only clients for the moment. Even though he did not speak English but knew only a few German words we found a way to communicate mainly with the help of the international body language. The first thing to do was to mimic the climbing moves which brought a broad smile on his face and made things much easier. Apparently climbers are very welcomed there.

So after a short body language chat with the owner Yosuf we explained that we want to see our rooms and accommodate so we could have a few hours rest from the long night drive. But what we actually did was to quickly throw our luggage and make a walk to the nearest piece of rock to examine what it is like. Well, it was granite. Sharp. Damn sharp.

Anyway, the rock was everywhere. Literally everywhere – in the village, in the backyards, on the beach, in the forest, everywhere thousands of boulders. And it was a huge mountain with vast amount of rock, so it is more like millions of stone giants just waiting to be climbed and the first question that popped into our minds was where to start from? Well, as there is a guide book we decided to examine it and follow the problems there as these should have been the best problems that the locals had discovered. Well, the surprise is that the guide book was not with the best problems but more like with the first discovered and the nearest ones. So we threw away the guide and went out there to discover, brush and climb our own lines.

Bafa is an amazing place – you have millions of beautiful boulders and at first you think that this is like heaven on Earth. Well… Yes there are millions of boulders but merely 1% of all the rock mass is worth climbing. The rock is either too loose, or too sharp, or with no holds. Almost every time we approached an imposing overhang it was either with no holds or with holds up to the middle and then just a blank wall. So finding a good problem to climb was not an easy task and some times we needed hours of hiking around to find a good line to climb.

However there were good lines and we just had to find them. Then the problem was that usually the good lines were far apart and it was rather inconvenient when we had a problem here and the next one was 10 minutes away. We were lucky enough to meet some Norwegian climbers that had found an area with quite a lot of problems within 2 minutes walk and all with a very good quality rock and interesting climbing. So the real fun began. We tried all the Norwegian problems and found many more around having a damn good time. There were highballs, lowballs, slopers, crimpers, slabs, roofs, traverses, 0ne-move-wonders and stamina problems, everything in the range of 6A-7C. There was everything for everyone, everyday.

When the good problems were over we tried to find another area around, but it was not that easy and we faced the same problem as before – impressing boulders with loose or no holds at all. And as a whole I think this is the main problem with Bafa – the vast amount of rock is just bad quality and you struggle to find a nice line to climb.

Anyway, we found enough boulders to climb for two weeks and we had a great fun. Would I go there again? I don’t know. It looks like a perfect boulder destination in winter time when everything in Europe is frozen or wet. But would I be that lucky to find good problems to climb? Who knows, and for sure I am not certain that I would. So the bottom line is – if you want to tick a lot of boulders and to crank every day hard stuff Bafa is not for you. Because you will have days where you will find nothing interesting to climb, you will be frustrated by the blank overhangs and roofs, and you will be cursing the bastard that brought you there. But if you like the adventure bouldering where you need to spend a lot of time and effort to find the best line but you have no guarantee that you actually will, if you like quiet places where all the rock is for you, if you like the solitude in the forest and the close touch with the nature you will love Bafa.

I loved Bafa and probably I will go there again – not only for the climbing, but for many other things as well. Check the photos and decide for yourself.

Bafa Lake bouldering

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  1. Posted %A %B %e%q, %Y at %I:%M %p | #

    Amazing photos and very good report! Yes you’re right, Bafa Lake is a very special place and not only for the climbing.

  2. x3
    Posted %A %B %e%q, %Y at %I:%M %p | #

    nice photos, but please give us the story in english too!

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