The intrepid duo Rob Addison and Peter “The Master” Simpson set off to climb one of the highest peaks in the Fethiye area and find that even in June snow, frost and bitter winds are still a challenge for the keen ‘peak bagger’.
It was early morning in mid June. The thermometers in sea level Fethiye would soon be on the rise and probably hitting the mid thirties as another hot summers day fast approached.
But up here in the mountains we hoped the temperatures would be kinder especially as we had a long hard day of walking ahead of us to climb the highest peak in the area – Uyluk Tepe (36° 33′ N; 29° 34′ E ) – from the direction of Derekoy.
As we quickly gained altitude from the coastal plain, the sub-tropical vegetation of bougainvillea, lemon and grapefruit trees quickly thinned out and be replaced with more hardy species such as almond, pear and apples.
As we climbed the pine trees started to be replaced with cedar woods until at the 2200m altitude we were firmly above the treeline and started to encounter patches of snow.
As we climbed further we negotiated steep ridges and snow drifts several meters deep.
As we approached 3000m dark clouds and a ferociously cold wind whipped up; this generated an ice storm which drove the ice crystals like needles onto any bare skin which was then rapidly covered up.
The summit was reached in temperatures close to freezing and shelter was rapidly taken behind the pile of stones at the peak.
Occasional breaks in the cloud gave a glimpse of the surrounding breath-taking beauty, and the coastal plains a mere 35km away which would be baking in temperatures over 40C in the early afternoon.
In the picture above you can see a small metal box. That contains a visitors book that was full of comments from those who braved the ascent. We stopped for a quick read but the increasing threat of electrical storms and hypothermia forced us to leave and begin the long descent.
We passed streams created from the melting snow provided their own haunting sounds.
We continued to descend and came across several summer camp set up by the Yayla folk set-up here in the summer.
Out here in the Lycian Wilderness humans are not always top of the food chain. Thus with great deliberation and a long stick, we treaded carefully through the territories of the Kangal Wolves.
Descending further, we were warmly greeted by Shepherds who invited us in to their makeshift wood and plastic camp for some hot tea and snacks.
Despite both of us being able to speak Turkish we struggled to completely understand the Yayla dialect, however we discovered that in some years the winter snowfalls are so heavy that there are north facing pockets of snow which remain all year.
This is amazing when you think of the blisteringly hot summer is just 35km away on the coastal plains.
Now my year off has ended and I will return back on the UK treadmill working once again.
However, I will never forget the taste of that hot tea and the haunting beauty of Lycia which did actually deliver “Four seasons in one day”.
Rob Addison and Peter “The Master” Simpson
Originally published 7 February 2013