Friday, April 7, 2006


In the morning I passed through the village of Tepehan. It had the look of a place in the middle of nowhere. From there I ascended & descended steeply. The latter was rather disappointing considering that I had a lot of altitude to gain to get to my objective for the day, Mount Nemrut.

The area in which I had camped the previous night must have been on a low spur of Mount Nemrut & thus not benefited from snow melt. From Tepehan onwards the valley were fed by lots of little streams. If I'd kept going an hour or so I could have camped by one. There was a field wherever there was a piece of land that wasn't too precipitous. Though here that didn't amount to much as the valley was very narrow & the sides steep.

The climb became ridiculously steep. It seemed that there many sections well beyond 10%. I was determined not to walk a hill, though on many I was very close to doing so. I passed a couple of cars going in the opposite direction to me. The drivers all showed the gesture that I had come to understand as an expression of incomprehension.

To my dismay I found a couple of kilometre short of the summit of Nemrut that the road is blocked by snow. Or more accurately that the snow clearing stopped & the road was under 1-2m of snow. To have been stopped by this would have meant backtracking to Malatya & all the painful climbing that would mean. On top of that if I wished to see the historical site of Mount Nemrut I would need to add something in the order of 3 days cycling, to get to a point 4-6km away & 300m vertically above. I decided that carrying by bike & gear would be the only way. So that's what I did. It was too much to carry in one go through the very deep but fortunately packed snow, so I carried it in stages. It took me 4 hours of very hard work to get to the top. It helped that by this time the weather had completely cleared, there was not a cloud to be seen. While walking down to collect my next batch of luggage I could really enjoy the view. Just as I got to the top I was joined by a group of walkers who were staying at a hotel at the end of the passable road. They had been following my progress up the mountain with some enjoyment.

The archeological site of Mount Nemrut was at the summit. It's an expression of pure egotism on the part of a pre-Roman regional king. The site was an attempt by him to elevate himself to the level of the Gods. There was a stone dais & carved heads of himself & some local deities. as well as an artificial mound of ruble 50m high. All of this at the highest point for miles around on a clear day. Even in my state of exhaustion I certainly found it impressive.

After I struggled down to the carpark I thought it would be plane sailing. Unfortunately for the next 10km the road down was paved wit the worst cobblestones. Prospective riders of the Paris-Roubaix should try this descent at speed to see whether they had what it takes. I didn't & it took forever. I wimped out & took a pension in the first village I arrived at, the effort to camp seemed too much to bear.

I cycled 41km in 4 hours & 19 minutes

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