Taurus Mountains (3)

The next day was another long trek over the Tekkekalesi Pass and down the other side for some distance before turning south and climbing another ridge to then drop into the beautiful Yedigoller Basin. I was still concerned about the health and ability to cope of one of the students so Jenny and I took them and left camp early. Yousef led at a good pace and things looked good to begin with as we reached the top of the pass. As the day wore on the walking became more laboured and by the time we reached camp it was a real struggle. We played word games to distract from the effort. It was a stunning walk with fantastic views from all of the high points. When we were low we were surrounded by magnificent cliff faces and escarpments. When we were high we felt on top of the world. The view down into the Yedigoller Basin was particularly impressive. There are seven lakes in the basin created by the melting snows during the spring and early summer. They are crystal clear and so, so blue. The descent into the basin is steep requiring, as Omer put it, ‘summer skiing’ down the fine scree. On all sides the basin is surrounded by high walls of rock including the massive ridge of Narpazbasi and Direktas, both above 3500m. Camp was situated a few minutes walk from the largest of the lakes and despite the coldness of the water the freshness it provided was well worth the pain.
We had two nights in Yedigoller, giving us a day to explore the surrounding peaks. In the morning most of the group headed up to the Celikbuyduran Pass to then climb Mt. Embler (3723m). It was a steady climb up to the pass but the ascent of the peak was much steeper and a bit of a lung buster. However, the views from the top are well worth the effort. As you reach the top you realise that there is not very much of a summit as it falls away vertically to the other side, allowing you to feel slightly exposed. On the top, wrapped up firmly in polythene and wedged into the cairn, is a visitors book for summiteers to sign, along with a home made banner to hold for photos.
Returning to camp for lunch the afternoon was free, although there was an optional opportunity to climb another peak in the middle of the basin. Most of the group opted to rest, as did I as I am still nursing a foot injury from my exploits on K2 earlier in the year.
The next morning the trek took us back up to the Celikbuyduran Pass, so I left camp early with Ellie and Lucinda to climb Mt. Embler, as they had missed out the previous day.
The student who was ill was not getting any better. In fact they were getting worse. In the morning we had to resort to a pony to get them to the top of the pass. We had to give serious thought to getting them back to the UK sooner rather than later. Although we tried not to use the pony on the descent, we had to as it proved too difficult without. The descent was long and steep, requiring some sections of ‘summer skiing’. It lead into a deep narrow gorge before opening out again, where huge marmot like rocks stood guard over the entrance to the gorge. The campsite at Sokulupinar was a patch of lush green grass amid a barren landscape. When campers are not in residence the grass is watered and provides a good play area for energetic young people.

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