Herakleia, Turkey: One of the Last Great Areas?
In February of this year, I traveled to a rural area of Southwestern Turkey called Herakleia. It is the site of an ancient city, with it's earliest settlements dating back to 1500 BC or possibly earlier. It was conquered by Alexander The Great, raided by Italians, and was once a trading port in the Mediterranean.
It also happens to be absolutely stuffed full of granite boulders.
Boone Speed had been shown the area by Serkan Ercan, a Turkish climber that had been climbing there for a couple of years along with several friends. Boone came back raving about the possibility of this place, but he admitted that he wasn't sure how valid his memory was. Could it be one of the last great areas of monstrous size? Boone isn't afraid to make bold statements, but from the few photos he showed me, I was willing to bet on it.
So we started planning on shooting a movie there. Isaac Caldiero was a guy I've known for years, a really strong climber with the ability to take the piss out of any serious situation or person, and happens to have a Turkish mother and family in Istanbul. He was the first guy I talked to about coming along.
Jon Cardwell was someone I had worked with in New Mexico, and is one of the strongest young guns in the country. He was in immediately.
I ran into Lauren Lee who heard about the trip and asked if she could join. Having worked with her on Big Game in 2005, I knew she would be great to have along, always psyched and strong. Steven Jeffery was psyched to go someplace so untapped, and his eye for a line and talent to spare were going to be key to our success.
The group grew in really short order when some friends from Salt Lake heard about it and didn't want to miss out on the trip of a lifetime. Cynthia Levinthal, who had joined us in New Zealand for Big Game, jumped on board, as did Luke Cudney and Cerre Francis, Dave Banks, my MVM partner Kevin Bradburn, and finally Boone Speed and Jenn Walsh, toting both pro photo packages and climbing gear.
After a few days of epics, we arrived in the postcard-perfect Bafa Lake area, blown away by the vast amount of rock surrounding it. Miles and miles of granite, with only a few hundred problems done by the locals, but with literally thousands and thousands more to be done.
With the table set, we had nearly four weeks of nothing to do but explore, brush and climb in an area that left us ceaselessly amazed. Not only the climbing; the ruins and relics we saw humbled and amazed us.
I'm in the midst of editing hours and hours of footage, and the end result will be done and ready to show in early spring, 2009. Check out the early sneak preview trailer playing on MVM today. And check back here and on the official movie site for more info and clips: www.herakleiathemovie.com.