It was 1993, and I had been on the road a long time. After 5 ½ months of studying in Nepal, I took to the road and rail with my gear, traveling down the Malay Peninsula from Bangkok, Thailand, to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was a great journey, and one which I enjoyed immensely. But, my real excitement was for what lay ahead: travels through Turkey, which I hoped would include a winter climb of Mount Ararat, the nearly-17,000 foot giant of eastern Anatolia.
Sadly, though, it was not to be. Upon arrival in Istanbul, I met up with my college housemate, Tolga Hanhan, who told me about the troubles in eastern Turkey with the PKK, a Kurdish separatist group. At his suggestion, I spoke with the US Embassy about the wisdom of traveling to this region, and was told in no uncertain terms that while they couldn't stop me from going there, they could assure me they wouldn't be a big help if I encountered trouble.
The prevailing opinions were underscored when I missed a train station bombing in Ankara by a matter of hours. The east, and Ararat, were off the table, and replaced by excellent hikes and sights in Cappadocia and the Mediterranean coast.
But, now 17 years later, I'm off yet again, bound for eastern Turkey. With me is my friend and client, Art Adams. It's been a year-and-a-half since out last adventure – on Mount Kinabalu in Malaysian Borneo – and we're both looking forward to this one.
I first met Art when my wife, Wende, and I guided him to the 19,340 foot summit of Kilimanjaro. While most wouldn't have bet on Art reaching that summit – he's 6 feet 6 inches tall and about 320 pounds – he did just that, and with a smile on his face. Since then, Art and I have shared many an adventure: Mt. Fuji in late winter, Mt. Toubkal also in winter with a dump of fresh snow, and Kinabalu. We also did some training in Colorado last winter to prepare Art for July attempt on Elbrus. (Read about that on the First Ascent blog.)
Our trip will take us to the city of Van in eastern Turkey, where we'll begin with a climb of Mount Artos, an 11,600 foot peak not far from Ararat with a name that explains why Art put it on the list.
After Artos, it's on to Ararat, and then a couple of days in the ancient city of Petra, Jordan, to round out the trip.
It'll be another great adventure for Art and I, and one I'm looking forward to. Be sure to check in here for updates as we travel and enjoy this unique trip!