Mt Embler, Ala Daglar
Key information: Mt Embler, Ala Daglar
- Ascent of one of the central Taurus' highest and best loved peaks.
- Wonderful limestone scenery in wild, remote terrain.
- While a day walk in itself, you'll need to walk in or make this a side trip from another walk (e.g. Yedigoller Seven Lakes)
- ANYONE GOT ANY GOOD PHOTOS? WE WOULD BE DELIGHTED TO POST THEM!
- Walkopedia rating84
- Natural interest15
- Human interest2
- Negative points0
- Total rating84
- Length: 13km
- Day walk
- Maximum Altitude: 3,723m
- Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
THIS PAGE IS AT AN EARLY STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT. PLEASE HELP US BY MAKING SUGGESTIONS AND SENDING PHOTOS! THANK YOU!
Walkopedia would like to thank David Briese for access to his account of trekking in the Ala Daglar mountains; the full account and many wonderful pictures can be found on his website, www.gang-gang.net/nomad/turkey/turkey07 We love it!
Climbing Mt Embler
Our fifth day of trekking in the Ala Daglar was the one that we had been building up to - the ascent of 3728m Mount Embler. Originally, the plan had been to climb the mountain and then go down onto the eastern side of the range and camp on the high, lake-dotted plateau of Yedigoller, some 700m below. However, because of the heavy late snows, which made it difficult for horses and mules, the campsite had not yet been set up and we were left with no alternative but to return to Sokullupinar campsite from where we would start. This made for a total climb and descent of 3200m - a pretty big effort for most people, let alone a pair of old farts like us.
It was a perfect day for such an effort, though, as the intensely blue cloudless sky that greeted us in the morning promised incredible views from the heights of Embler, should we get there. It was a strong incentive. We set off just after 7.30am and the morning shadows were still long across the western flank of the mountains, as we headed quickly southwards up the ravine above Sokullupinar.
The fair Nello was the first to see it - a sudden movement high above us, something disappearing behind a rise, then reappearing. The mountain goat bounded across the slope, stopping briefly to show us its backward-curving horns and then disappeared from view. It was a rare and exciting sight in the Turkish mountains and left us thinking that the omens for the day were good.
The Karakaya Ravine curved around to cut into the mountainside and we followed a rough rocky path up to its seemingly dead end. As we reached it, we could see that a narrow corridor opened up to the right and a loose scree track zig-zagged its way steeply upwards - it was the gateway to Embler Mountain.
We would need to get used to the sharp karst scree, as most of our climbing from now on would be on it, varying from loose and fine pebbly stuff to larger, razor-edged rocky stuff, none of which would do the soles of our boots much good. Once we reached the top of the rock corridor, passing our first snow drifts of the day, the climb continued up a long rocky scree slope, before an even steeper ascent of a loose pebbly scree slope where every step forward is dragged that little bit backwards as the loose pebbles give way and slide - frustrating and energy sapping!
Once we crested this slope, we found ourselves in a broad basin, locked in by immense grey and orange-tinted cliffs, as the path took us relentlessly upwards toward a snowy bowl beneath the dark pyramidal shape of Kizilkaya, at 3767m the highest peak in the Ala Daglar. The only way to handle such an unyielding climb is to set goals - 350m in the first hour, 500m of climb done, 2 hours done, past the 3000m contour, 1000m of climb done etc etc. As the Turkish say, "yavas, yavas" slowly , slowly.
Reaching the head of this broad and barren scree basin, where only a few pink and yellow-flowering prostrate herbs added a splash of colour, we stopped at a large boulder that the locals call "Have a Rest Rock" - it seemed a very good idea, as ahead of us lay an even steeper section of very loose scree with the odd snowdrift to cross as well. It was a slow haul up, but as we got higher the cool wind started breaking through over the ridge above us - a welcome relief for our climb.
Reaching the crest at 3500m, we found ourselves above the pass leading to the Yedigoller Plateau and looking down onto the broad expanse of barren, dimpled terrain, dappled with snowdrifts, that is Yedigoller. To our left the scree field continued upwards, directing our attention to a longish ridge that formed the summit of Embler, now only a few hundred metres above us.
The ascent from here, though technically easy, became a hard slog up sliding scree and across soft wet snowdrifts. We passed several tiny snow-fed springs, where water trickled out of the scree slope, stopping at one of these to top up our water-bottles - a 1600m climb uses up a lot of fluids and water at this altitude is at a premium. As we climbed, the views below over Yedigoller broadened to reveal one by one its numerous lakes of varying size.
The wind was now quite cold and at 3700m, we declared a lunch break at a sheltered spot just below the summit ridge. From here the views were simply magnificent - looking way down on the ravines of the western flank of Ala Daglar, across to the massive dome of Demirkazik and the distant cone of Erciyes volcano, out over the snow-dappled plateau of Yedigoller and distant snow-tipped massifs beyond, and across the pass to Kizilkaya, the highest peak of the Ala Daglar - almost 360 degrees of rugged alpine landscape.
Only the summit itself blocked the full circle, so with lunch over, we put on our beanies and fleeces to keep out the wind and climbed the final 40m to the summit, to take in all the views once again. Mehmet was so excited, he pulled out his mobile phone to call all his mates (mobile reception in Turkey is amazingly good).
Our time at the top over, it was time to head down again, all 1600m down. It was a much quicker journey - as scree and snowdrifts became our allies. We took the direct route down the deep scree slopes - descending them was like walking down a moving escalator with piles of loose stones rattling down at each step. A bit of boot-sliding down the steeper snowdrifts also sped up the descent. However, scree is hard on the feet, and by the time we finally made it back to camp 10 hours after setting out, we were footsore and weary and very, very happy. No pain could take away the elation of having climbed Embler and finished arguably the hardest day-walk we have undertaken.
The cook was waiting for us with Turkish Delight and hot tea, but where oh where was that cold glass of Efes to celebrate the day? It was a pity that we couldn't have pushed on to Yedigoller from Mt Embler - we had been overtaken on the way down by workers and pack mules who had spent the day up there setting up the campsite and by next week it would be operational. Such is life! We did however get a reward for our efforts. Ahmet invited us to go down to the village to stay in the family pension - a hot shower, dinner and bed in a house instead of a tent. We slept very well that night.
You can find an interactive map of David Briese's Mt Embler Climb on the EveryTrail website.
Please visit our Taurus Mountains page for detailed practical information.
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