Rock the Casbah

posted in: Extreme Sports | 0

Jack of all trades, master of none. That’s me. 

The dilettante in me has been capriciously hop-skotching through so many activities this past two years (with my motorcycle as the only constant) that I had barely even noticed my rock climbing gear has gone untouched for at least that long. That dry spell was broken by an October camping trip to Hacilli which fired me up for another outing in November, this time to Ballıkayalar. 

Dilettante though I may be, rock climbing was my thing for a number of years. Quick, easy, cheap adrenaline rush that leaves your muscles with that sweet soreness. And you only need one or two people to go with you, so coordinating everyone’s schedule isn’t the chore that canyoning was (the eventual reason I gravitated away from canyoning and towards rock climbing). 

The Hacilli climb was a great refresher; though I brought the gear, there were many technical aspects I knew I had forgotten in two years and it was great to have Ayşe and Tayfun leading us. For the next outing, however, I wanted dedicated training. Since my old canyoning buddy and outdoorsman extrordinaire Gökalp Saklı was off wandering the southern wilds of Turkey, he was unavailable to train us and sent in his stead Oğuz Kaan Beğeç, national rock climbing team champ and trainer. 

I brought kankis Emre and Faruk with me, both newbies to climbing who, once trained, could be my belay in outings to come. 

For late November it was ridiculously hot and sunny with no wind. Oğuz mentored us step by step, teaching me finer technical points that were entirely new to me. I belayed Emre and Faruk first before starting my climbs. 

Once back on the rock face, I remembered immediately the perfect appeal rock climbing held for me. 

“It is not the mountain that we conquer, but ourselves.” Sir Edmund Hillary

Rock climbing is primal.

Forget that you are securely harnessed and roped. You FEEL like you are hanging on for dear life. You FEEL like every move you make is mortally crucial. You exert. You grunt and sweat. Your muscles tremble with effort. You WILL yourself upward. Because if you don’t, you will fall.

Every successful inch forward is an outright triumph. 

Oh, the adrenaline. 

Of course, you DO fall. You DO dangle tens of meters up above your belayer. You swing. You shake out your hands. You try again. 

But the minute you grab the rock again, you immediately forget that you are harnessed and roped. Once again you are fighting for your life. 

An insane form of recreation.

I. love. it. so. 

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