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Turkey 08 coaching holiday: a personal perspective by Caroline Goldsworthy

Lose the Fear, Love to Climb Caroline Goldsworthy 

“If you can’t’ do the move, Caroline, then just down-climb: down-climb to a rest or to the bottom if you need to.” I looked down. Hum, down-climb, I thought. I’d struggled to get to where I was and the concept of down-climbing was total anathema. I didn’t think I could actually do it! I was doubtful that I could climb down to a rest point and I certainly didn’t think I could down-climb to the bottom. Yet Katherine's confidence in me and her conviction that I could reverse the moves, led me to believe that I could do it.

As I steadily climbed down the route that I had struggled so far to get up, I began to realise that her confidence in me was not unfounded. Up until that point I hadn’t even considered reversing moves as a possibility and yet when it was pointed out to me it was so simple, so perfect and, more importantly, I wouldn’t lose the on-sight. This was the kind of advice and coaching that I had chosen this course for and I came to expect from the holiday.

Andy and Caroline Bungalow  The view from Andy and Caroline's bungalow

It was a little disappointing to arrive in Turkey from Gatwick to discover that, after a seemingly endless, damp summer in the UK, it was raining in Antalya too. Katherine had, after all, promised us sunshine! However, as the van that Tobias had sent from Josito campsite to collect us climbed higher and higher into the hills, the sky started clearing, the ground began to dry and it was obvious that we were going to be able to get a sneaky climb in and test the rock out before Katherine and Steve arrived the next day.

Monday morning met all expectations, dawning bright and beautiful and we convened in the bar after breakfast for introductions, to relate our climbing experiences and discuss injuries. For a group of 10 people who all climb regularly this latter section took quite some time! Afterwards, we made our way to sectors behind the campsite called Left Cave Left and Turkish Standard. Grades varied from F4 upwards, with the second pitch of one route graded at F8a+. A little rich for my blood! The photograph depicts George Buchanan on Kinertic Koncert at F4+ and Kathryn Pashley indulging in a spot of Californian Dreaming (F5+), thus giving the coaches a chance to assess our abilities. As the region is still being developed, there is a substantial amount of new routing going on and the guidebook seems to be out of date almost as soon as it is off the press. This said though, sales of the guidebook are funding the new routing and the Josito website (www.josito.de) is continually updated with the new routes so supplements are easily available.

Kathryn & George Turkey  Katherine and George climbing in Left Cave

With routes as tempting as this it would have easy to have climbed oneself out on the very first day, but Steve and Katherine kept a close eye on the group advising and encouraging as required by each individual. Each day of the course Katherine and Steve give a short lecture and demonstration of sport climbing techniques and ethics. Day one’s was related to methods of tying off at the top of a sport route, ensuring your kit is tidily stowed on your harness i.e. krabs all facing the same way, long extenders separate from the shorter ones and what kit to take up with you. Sport climbing is very much about stripping weight to the bare minimum so don’t take that Gi-Gri with you unless you are really going to need it. Oh and ensuring the other end of the rope is knotted or tied to the rope bag. Some of these Turkish routes are very long indeed and anything less than a 60m rope is not advised!

Day two witnessed the long march up to Trebanna. The guidebook suggests a walk-in time of 5-6 minutes but it is closer to twenty. Trebanna has a much different atmosphere; it is shaded and rides high above the trees. Routes here are tall and imposing, overhanging and intimidating. Grades are a lot stiffer than the previous day’s venue and vary from F5c to F8b+. Once again a lot of new rerouting has taken place and it was good to see that some of this was taking place in the lower grades as well.

Katherine talked to us about choosing an appropriate warm up climb, several grades below what we were planning as the peak route of the day. As we did this we followed a warm up routine looking remarkably like a group of Japanese car workers doing their daily Tai Chi. I made a severe error of judgement in my choice of warm up route. Unnamed but graded at F5b, I discovered that it was too steep and overhanging for a warm up route. Chastened and somewhat deflated I moved on to a F5+ which wound around a pillar. An infinitely more pleasant route which gave me the impetus to lead the first pitch of Lycian Alpinist which has some thought provoking moves and comes in at F5c.

Caroline Lycian Alpinist  Caroline onsighting Lycian Alpinist 5c

On the third day we ventured further afield to the Maðara, Sarkit and Anatolia sectors. The variety in rock colours was much greater here, ranging from grey mollusc to autumnal russet. Again there were long routes with some of the pitches as long as 35m.
Learning from the previous day’s experience I chose a F5- to warm up on before switching my attention to a F5c which had a very steep and overhanging final move. After many attempts the final bolt was clipped and I lowered off, shattered but with a great sense of achievement. I decided to see just how hard I could climb. I elected to lead Crying Boy which is graded at F5c. It’s a very short route for the area, slightly slabby and with very small crimpy holds, especially on the moves between the first and second bolts. As I neared the top and the gargoyle my foot slipped!

Amanda Crying Boy Turkey Amanda Lyons onsighting Crying Boy 5c

Somehow I managed to hold the position, did not weight the rope, made the move and clipped the final bolt. The audience finally breathed. However, Mr McClure was not impressed with my footwork and told me so! It’s something I still need to work on.
After a day’s rest we entered the final phase of the holiday – red pointing. Red pointing brings a different aspect to sport climbing in that most people can red point around 3 grades harder than they can on-sight, simply due to practising the moves. Even so I was sceptical about how well it would translate to my on-sight sport grade and my trad leading grades. Once the project route was selected, Katherine led it explaining all the while what would happen. She would set up a tope rope and the first climber would effectively second the route to get a feel for the character of the climb.

For the initial attempt Katherine advises not overdoing it, experiment with the moves and not to try and climb the route cleanly, more getting a feel for what it is like. As well as the moves it is wise to practice the clipping positions as well. After a period of time, lower off, clipping the rope back into the extenders and then it’s time for your climbing partner to have their go. Spending too long on a route at any one time can mean you get too pumped and ruin the rest of the day and anyway the belayer gets bored! Keep working in this way until you feel ready to pull the rope through and go for it.

While I missed this part of the trip due to a tummy bug I had a fantastic trip and got a lot out of the course. I’m still working on my footwork and am training in accordance with the personalised feedback I got from the coaches. My on-sight sport grade has gone from F5c to F6a (not huge but I missed the red pointing) and I’m working on a F6b project naturally called Montezuma’s Revenge! As for the trad climbing, the difference the experience has made to my leading head is gargantuan. Thank you, Katherine. Thank you, Steve. I’ll see you again next year!