Extract

Of Mountains and Monasteries

The Golden Fleece, Trebizond, Sumela… Jeremy Jame’s itinerary in Turkey’s dramatic Black Sea Mountains promised a string of ancient wonders.The past left him chilled and saddened. But high above the sea, where the mountains rise out of the water like monsters’ backs, he found a land as grand as it is remote. A fourteen-page feature with photographs by Tülin Dizdaroğlu and Bünyat Dinç

  • The cliff-top monastery of [Sumela](/guide/sights/sumela-monastery/), 1993

Bünyat, a square-built bear of a man of 35 and leader of our expedition, met me in Erzurum, and round the back of the town, in a dingy hotel, he introduced me to the others: seven Turks and one Austrian, all perennial mountain hikers and all sporting the perennial kit. In my baggy khaki shorts and faded jersey, I felt old and out of date, and though they said nothing, it was the absence of comment which niggled. After buying provisions – rice and coffee and whatnot – we set off an hour or so later to walk the Black Sea mountain range in northeastern Turkey, the highest peak of which is Kaçkar, at 3937m. Verçenik is next highest at 3711m, followed by Tatos at 3560m, all of which in my advancing middle age sounded very breathy, heart-attack stuff.

I was relieved, therefore, that the first part of the journey took place in a dolmuş, a minibus. It slammed us across red standstone and green granite rock on the mountain road from Erzurum to İspir, then followed the long, winding Çoruh valley, where snow melt had sectioned off the distant, smoky turquoise mountains into creases like quilting…

Jeremy James is the author of The Byerly Turk

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Issue 3, 1992/93 The Pink House
£30.00 / $38.42 / 207.24 TL
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