Baffa Lake, Turkey
Caroline Ciavaldini and James Pearson—The North Face’s premiere rock climbing couple—met on a rock face in Antalya, Turkey, but Antalya gave them more than a climbing partner for life. Ciavaldini and Pearson fell in love with Turkey—its rock and its food, the underpin of history, and endless variety. Despite frequent trips back to its crags, the duo is still bound to the rock climbing destination. Photographer Francisco Taranto Jr. was there to capture their latest trip.
Ciavaldini: The hills here are covered in boulders near Baffa Lake, Turkey. Most climbers come here to boulder—climbing with no ropes on the low rocks—but James and I went our traditional route, climbing the higher boulders. We place temporary anchors in the rock to make our way up and take everything off on our way down.
Ciavaldini: Little Tomas (son of photographer Francisco and his wife Sandra) might not shower every day, but he knows what he needs to about life on the road: Without the keys, we won’t go anywhere!
We knew nothing about Turkey and we had to do something about it, so we packed up our van with all the climbing gear you could imagine and set off for a three-month road trip across the country. Climbing is everything to us, but it’s not the only thing.
Ciavaldini: We have been here before, but with the quality of the climbs and laid-back vibe, Antalya is the perfect place to escape to—again.
Ciavaldini: This place is a special for climbers. You make a spiritual connection with its ancient tranquility, starting with the faith in giant pebbles as handholds. Here, the setting sun lights up one of its monastery-topped walls during my last climb of the day.
Ciavaldini: When we visited one of Meteora’s monasteries we were reminded to follow the rules of covering your legs and arms. The local monks happily lent me a shawl.
Ciavaldini: Giant conglomerate towers call out to the world below. Today, only six monasteries remain.
Ciavaldini: After a long day on the road and a ferry across the Aegean Sea, we arrived on Kalymnos Island. The streets are full of people preparing for the local climbing festival, but life on the hills continues as usual.
Ciavaldini: Kaylmnos is the land of the Tufa. These stalactites hang from the rock face and provide great holds for us to scale upwards, but we remember to treat them gently as they are surprisingly fragile.
Back at Meteora
Ciavaldini: James and I took a special approach to climbing in Meteora. The pebbled rock does not inspire confidence, so we had to put our faith in the God above. Luckily for us, it is one of the most spiritual places in Greece.
Ciavaldini: Looking for climbable rock is frustrating sometimes, but then all you have to do is turn around. Sometimes, things are just perfect.
Ciavaldini: We also visited Leonidio, Greece, which is an untouched paradise. We discovered more rock in this area alone than we ever did in Turkey, and we got to open some of the first routes up its walls.
From the Road
Ciavaldini: We drove six hours across Greece—from Meteora to Athens—and could see these white cotton balls floating along our entire way. They were a constant reminder of the state of the Greek economy.
Ciavaldini: No one guards the ruins of in the ancient city of Heraclea, Greece. We hired a local fisherman to take us out there to explore.
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