Climbing a Volcano (Mt. Erciyes)

SUMMARY

While traveling I feel the urge to climb the mountains around and if you ever travel to Kayseri Erciyes will tower over you taunting you to see if you can make it to the top. Erciyes is the 6th highest mountain in Turkey at 3,917 meters and is actually a dormant volcano believed to have last erupted in 6880 BC. Here is a summary of my day trip to the summit of Erciyes.

Climbing Mt. Erciyes by Brandon Owens

While traveling I feel the urge to climb the mountains around and if you ever travel to Kayseri Erciyes will tower over you taunting you to see if you can make it to the top. Erciyes is the 6th highest mountain in Turkey at 3,917 meters and is actually a dormant volcano believed to have last erupted in 6880 BC. Since it hasn’t erupted in thousands of years I felt good that it wasn’t going to erupt again anytime soon.

 Me and Andrew Climb Erciyes

Since the mountain was calling, Andrew, the Central Turkey manager of Epik Encounter and I (Brandon) planned a day hike together on one Saturday in early October. We had planned to summit Mt. Erciyes and see Kayseri from up high. After staying the night in a hotel close to the Erciyes Ski Resort, I ate a big Turkish breakfast (amazing breakfast to have before any hike) while I waited for Andrew to come up from his place in Kayseri. It was a beautiful day for a hike.

We began by going to the Turkish military police station close to the mountain to let them know which route we were climbing and to give them our Turkish identity cards. While talking to the police we decided to do the easier and longer route up the ridge rather than the shorter, more intense Devil’s route. The Devil’s route is full of scree, loose rocks, that make that route much more treacherous so the longer route seemed like a better choice.  

Typically, people take a ski lift up as high as they can to save their legs a bit of strain, but we were anxious to begin early and the lifts didn’t open until 9 am. We were able to make the first ridge by 10 am. However, Andrew, having 4 young kids at home decided at this point that he better head down and save some energy for parenthood.  So, from here on I was on my own. The ridge was fairly easy to navigate and by about 11:30 I had reached the end of the ridge portion and saw where the Devil’s route merged with my route.

Scree Route Devils Pass Erciyes

Here you have two options. Take the loose rock route around a big rock formation or go over the rock formation where there was less scree, but more actual rock climbing. I hate scrambling over scree so I decided to enjoy a little rock climbing. It was a little unsettling, as I had to be careful of some loose rocks and make a few class 5 rock-climbing moves. This section of climbing was probably about 50-75 meters high. There was one section that even had some rope hanging along the route as a safety precaution. I have had a decent amount of bouldering and rock climbing experience and wouldn’t recommend taking this route if you don’t have similar experience. As I was climbing, I saw some other people coming down on the alternative route with loose rock. I would recommend this route for coming down, as rock climbing down is a little bit more difficult in my opinion. The rock climbing section probably took about 15-20 minutes. After that, I had another short ridge to the summit. There are two summits that are similar elevation. I first went to the slightly lower one on the right, and then headed over to the highest one.

On the way to the summit, I found a cave that had a Summit Log book inside. Supposedly, monks used to take shelter in this cave as they summited the peak often in historic times. The cave had two entrances with a beautiful view on both sides. The summit was only another 20 or so meters up after the cave. The exact top of the mountain is a 17-meter rock pinnacle that I was told has a bunch of loose rock and would require more advanced rock climbing. I chose not to climb this part, so I guess I made it to about 3,900 meters, not making it the final 17 meters to the top of the rock pinnacle. The total ascent was about 1,700 meters.

Summit with Turkish Flag Erciyes

There were amazing views from the summit and the summit was strewn with several Turkish flags. I made it to the summit by about 1 pm (total of 4hrs to summit). The way down was interesting. The loose rock made it much more difficult. I slid quite a bit and even fell a couple times. I managed to escape with no major injuries. I wanted to save some time so I took the Devil’s route down on more loose rock scree. It was mostly a controlled slide. For a large portion, I bounded down sliding almost a whole meter with each step. This actually felt safe and was quite fun, although I filled my shoes with loose rock. Eventually, I got to a part with large boulders where I could hop from boulder to boulder. This was also quite fun!

Rocky Landscape of Erciyes

The rest of the way down was quite easy. There was a long cement water canal that I followed for several hundred meters which eventually led me to a narrow dirt road where I had a nice downhill run for about 500 meters. As I was running, I passed some people that were camping at some sort of a midway point. A pickup truck drove down to me from delivering supplies to the camp and offered me a ride for the rest of the way down. I happily accepted along with a few other climbers. This saved me at least an hour of running. When I got down to the ski resort shop I bought a big bottle of water as what I brought along was not enough. Finally, I stopped back by the military police to let them know that I made it down safely. By the time I reached the hotel and my rental car it was about 3 pm.  It was an amazing hike, and I would gladly do it again! If you are ever in the area take the chance to summit Mount Erciyes and see Kayseri and surroundings from up high.