Autumn has come. I wanted to spend an active vacation in a warm place. I didn’t feel like going on a bike trip, but I wanted to try rock climbing trip. Among the warm places where there are climbing sectors, the choice is now small: Turkey and Crimea. In Turkey, I was in the previous fall (not on the rocks), and in Crimea, I have been for a long time. The choice fell on the Crimea, as I found a coach who was gathering the group there.
The coach’s name is Egor Kryachkov. Can I recommend him? Yes! The group was from Moscow, only Grigory and I flew from St. Petersburg.
The flight to Simferopol was not smooth. We were embarked on the plane according to schedule. However, we did not fly on time. After half an hour from the estimated time of departure, some movement began near a wing of the aircraft. Through the porthole, we watched as the workers began to repair the wing. And they actually repaired it, a screwdriver and some tapes were used. It made me feel uneasy. Moreover, the captain announced that the delay was due to the coordination of documents. That is, he was hiding what was really going on. The passengers were not disembarked, after half an hour the workers completed the repairs, the plane took off. It was scary 😨 But everything went like clockwork.
We got to the camping in Bakhchisarai. The owners of BakhiCamp were not there, so we just left our luggage in the room of the guys who arrived a day earlier and immediately went to the rocks. This campsite has very loyal owners, they always try to give shelter, even if there are problems with places.
There are 2 cottages at the campsite, you can stay in a room in a cottage (as I understand all the rooms are for 3 persons), or in a tent in a small clearing. The rooms are as simple as possible, only beds and a bedside table, but nevertheless it is noticeably more comfortable than in a tent. The house has a toilet, a shower, a small kitchen and a small room (I would call it a lounge zone) with a table. Of course, it’s a bit crowded, if all the rooms are full, you will have to forget about luxury rest here.
This was the first time I stayed in a place of this kind, at first it was uncomfortable, I was frightened by the huge number of signs with the rules 📋 They hung in the toilet, above the sinks, on the shower door, on the washing machine and many other places. But in fact, they help, get rid of unnecessary questions. After a few days of living, I would add a couple more, if it were my will 🙂
The kitchen also scared me at first, it is tiny, while there is so much of everything! It is also a hallway and a place for washing. Before arriving at the campsite, we bought food for a few days. So in the kitchen, there are large containers (one per room) for storing food that does not need to be kept in a refrigerator. Anything that is not signed and is left on the table is considered a common fund and can be eaten by anyone. What is put in the refrigerator must be signed, it is small, there are a lot of people, the products may be similar, confusion will begin if this is not done.
When entering the cottage, you must definitely take off your shoes. It would be nice to have slippers for the cottage because the floor is tiled and cold. I didn’t have them, I walked barefoot.
One of the rules that I did not immediately learn is there are 2 trash cans: for food waste and for everything else. The hostess scolds if it is not thrown out correctly. It still remains a mystery to me how to properly throw out a teabag, it seems like it belongs to food waste, but the bag has metal clips… I tore off the string with clips, threw it in regular waste, and the bag itself in food waste.
The kitchen has 2 sinks: one for washing dishes, the other for washing hands. It is strictly forbidden to wash dishes in the washbasin, as evidenced by one of the signs with the rules. There is a hairdryer next to the washbasin.
The kitchen is the heart of the house ❤️ Imagine what happens there when two people are cooking, one is washing the dishes, one is brushing his teeth, and another is drying his hair after a shower 😵 A real mess 😄
You can eat in a small room with a table. Since there are a lot of people, we had to eat in turn.
There are also facilities for the residents of the tents. There is an outdoor kitchen, it is noticeably larger than the one in the house. Toilets and showers are also available.
Although at first, it was uncomfortable for me to live in such a cramped house with a bunch of people and many rules, then I got used to it and felt quite comfortable. It might be said that I went through a rehabilitation course for an introvert 😄 I will say more, I felt more comfortable here than in a cheap guest house, which I settled in after camping.
The camping is located at the very rocks in the old town in Bakhchisarai. Alas, the infrastructure of this area is very poorly developed. Grocery stores within walking distance are very scarce, you have to take a taxi to the normal shops, this is a big minus. There are several restaurants within walking distance, but they are not cheap, eating there every day is quite expensive. So there is no getting away from cooking. Here I want to say thank you to Anastasia from our group for help in cooking 👩🍳 🙂
We did not have time to settle, as we immediately went to the rocks. It was still early in the day, so there was plenty of time for trial routes. We started climbing at 5c to warm up. Egor also wanted to evaluate my and Grigory’s skills, since, unlike the others, we did not train with him. What can I say, I did not expect such 5c, they seemed extremely difficult to me! Movements are difficult and very long 😓 On our Karelian rocks, tracks with the same level of difficulty are just flowers compared to the Crimean ones! On the first day, I did not even think to try lead climbing, I did a top-roping with unclipping the rope. We spent the whole day at the “Linza” climbing sector.
The second day was sunny, it was the hottest day of our stay in Crimea. We started the day in the sector “54”. There was a comfortable grotto, which gave a little shade, when we were climbing the sun heated the back. Crimean rocks are mostly made of limestone, which makes them light. I forgot my sunglasses, and on such a sunny day rocks are dazzling. It was really difficult to belay because the eyes cannot stand looking at the rock for a long time.
On this day, I started to do lead climbing. Grigory clipped quickdraws, I climbed after him. Even 5b and 5c were not easy, it was scary. It is scary for several reasons: a positive slope, that is, if you slip (and beginner routes are polished in places to shine), then you can sand off the skin; large distance between quickdraws (compared to a climbing gym); well, the main thing is I just have a terrible fear of falling 😅
Besides Grigory and me, Anastasia was in the group. She climbs about the same level as me, and we were outsiders 😄 Grigory climbed much better than us. There were also Dmitry and Eugene, they were a role model for us, they even attempted 7b at times. Later, Liza joined us, she was closer to Grisha in terms of level. Well, Eegor clipped quickdraws for the guys on difficult routes, I don’t remember if he had to strain there at least somewhere, he easy climbed all the routes 💪
In addition to simple routes, I also tried 6b+ (of course top-roping), having worked hard enough to overcome it. Towards the end of the day, we moved to the “Larishes” sector. There were 2 slope routes, 6a I climbed with clipping quickdraws. This was my first experience of climbing with clipping. I climbed it with hangings, nevertheless, I was satisfied 🙃
In this sector, a stone flew to me from a cliff, it was quite sharp. I didn’t have time to jump anywhere, it would have hit me into the chest, but I managed to put my hand on the chest, my hand was slightly split. Yes, yes, we climbed without helmets, shame on us 🤫
The previous day was a day of rest, and today we went climbing to Bashtanovka. We started in the “Vympel” sector. To warm up there was 5a! But I can’t imagine what sounds and curses a beginner would make when trying to climb this route… Not everyone would have coped with this. Then 6a and 6b were tried in this sector. This sector is low, it is not scary to fall here, since the vertical, and somewhere even a slight overhang. The relief of the rocks is also interesting here, they are wavy, smooth, and with many holes. Like Swiss cheese 🧀 Finishing climbing in this sector, a little rain touched us. In general, it became cloudy and cool.
Then we moved to the neighboring sector “Rodnik”. There is a relatively high rock with cracks. We tried a couple of routes in cracks. Both are marketed as 6b+, but one of them is clearly underrated, I haven’t even tried it. The other one is a route in a corner, but it seemed to me very hard, it was scary to push walls, there was no faith in the legs. And at the top, it has a difficult exit from under the overhang.
It was the coldest day, it was cloudy and windy, during the belay we had to wear everything we had. We climbed again in Bashtanovka. We began where we finished the previous day. The warm-up was at the same 6b+ in the corner, it was harsh. It seems to me that I overloaded my arm on it because barely noticeable unpleasant sensations began. After that we tried the second terribly difficult route, I can’t pass the first key at the very bottom.
Then we moved to the sector “Tihij ugolok”. I tried two 6b routes there. In one of them, I had lead climbing. In this sector, the rock is smooth and wavy, there are a couple of holes for the fingers and a couple of crimps, commonly you have to use corner climbing here. Every moment it seemed to me that my leg would slip off, it was scary (as always). Guys tried 7a in this sector. I climbed a 6a with clipping for a cooling down. For the finishing route for today, I climbed 6a with clipping. Here I felt the difficulty of clipping when the growth is not enough. There were a couple of moments when from a comfortable position I lacked 10 centimeters to reach the bolt, I had to go a little higher and clip in a quickdraw from an uncomfortable position.
Another day of rest is behind. Grigory went to the airport early in the day, so from that moment on we climbed without him. Today we went to Bashtanovka again, to the sector “Polka sprava”. There are three routes of difficulty 6a and 6a+. But two of them are some kind of misunderstanding! We all struggled on them. As it turned out, some holds were broken off on them, and the routes became very difficult.
An unpleasant incident happened on one of the routes. I belayed Lisa and didn’t catch her 😨 Thank God everything ended up okay, she didn’t hurt herself. She flew past 4 quickdraws and got very scared. I myself felt guilty about this 😔 The day seemed gloomy at once. It was a long route with a shelf in the middle. After the shelf, the climber becomes invisible, and you belay according to the sensations. Liza clipped the rope to the penultimate quickdraw, only Top remained. At some point, I felt the tension on the rope, I thought that she began to pull it to clip it, and I quickly gave her an extra slack, so that it would be easier for her to lift the rope. But then I felt that the rope continued to get out, I removed my finger from the grigri, it blocked, and I automatically, as they teach us at the climbing gym, jumped to soften the fall. As a result, a terrible fall and lost nerves.
From this situation, I learned 3 lessons:
- If the climber is not visible, then he must be in command and you must follow his commands.
- Immediately remove your finger from a grigri after giving a slack. Sometimes it seems that you have not given enough slack, and you do not remove your finger, expecting that you will need to give more (after this incident, I realized that this happens to me).
- If a dynamic rope stretches well, then don’t jump. The jump makes sense to soften the fall with old stiff ropes, like in a climbing wall.
Then we moved to the sector “Pchelovod”, there were two routes: 7a and 7b. I had nothing to do on them, besides, after the previous routes, my arm again ached, this time more noticeable. The guys finished climbing in the dark.
The last day of our campaign. I was about to leave the campsite, so I only had half a day to climb. Finally, it was a sunny day. Although the breeze was cool, it was calm near the rock, the rock was heated and it was hot. We went climbing not far from the camping in the sector “Gasprinskogo”. Nice sector, I liked it 🙂 There are both simple routes and difficult ones. Due to the convenient location of the sector and the abundant number of routes, it was relatively crowded here. Sometimes, we had to wait a bit in a queue. For comparison, nobody climbed in Bashtanovka except us.
I did a lead climbing on two 6a+ routes. After the first one, my hand began to ache again, very unpleasant. But since these were the last hours of climbing, I decided not to back down. In the final, I did a top-roping on the 6c route, I gave it my last power. The sunny weather may have been the reason, but the mood was great that day!
We had lunch in a restaurant, the guys went on to climb after that, and I left the campsite and headed my own way 🚕
We had the following schedule: 🧗 🧗 🛌 🧗 🧗 🛌 🧗 🧗, that is, a day of rest between pairs of climbing days. On our free days, we traveled around Crimea, looked at interesting places.
First, we went to lakes with nice landscapes. There is nothing special, we just stretched our legs after sitting in the cars and took a couple of photos.
Then we moved towards Mount Ai-Petri. A not very pleasant serpentine led there, someone felt sick 🤢 On the way, we stopped at an observation deck. We took some pictures there, enjoyed the view and went on. Having reached the top of the plateau, we didn’t go to Ai-Petri. Our goal was the Taraktash trail. This trail is located in a protected area, Eegor bought us passes in advance, downloaded the track, and led us along this trail. In general, the forester should have let us through the gate, but he was not there, we had to climb over the fence nearby. But we did not break the rules on the territory of the reserve.
The nature in this reserve is amazing! We were lucky to see little deer 🦌 A little further, the path went along the cliff of the plateau, from where a beautiful view of the unusual-shaped rocks sticking out of the ground opened up, and of Yalta. In general, you can walk along the trail to the waterfall, but we had a shortened route, we reached a picturesque meadow. There we enjoyed the views, took great photos, and headed back because the sunset was beginning.
The next target was a restaurant in Yalta. But on the way to it, we stopped at an outdoor store. It had already started to close, but the sellers kindly let us in and helped us choose the goods. Grigory needed new climbing shoes, for a couple of the previous days his shoes had worn out. I bought glasses so as not to get blind from the sun (which, alas, was almost absent in the following days).
The food in the restaurant was delicious, we went back to the campsite in a good mood. We returned late, as the driver decided to take the “short” road, and also missed the motorway exit.
At the campsite, our group was always the last to get up. But on this day we got up unusually early 🥱 We went to the cave city, which was a couple of kilometers from the camping. It is located on a plateau. The main part at the top of the plateau is fenced with a wall and there is a paid entrance. We went around it. Nevertheless, even along the bypass path, there was something to see, the cavities in the rock that made up the rooms. It looks beautiful on a sunny day. At the end of the trail, we were at the top of a plateau, from where a picturesque view opened up. Despite the sunny day, there was a strong wind here.
Returning to the campsite, we immediately went to Balaklava. The first goal was breakfast in the restaurant (if the noon meal could be called breakfast). After tasting seafood, we went to the submarine museum.
I have been to Balaklava before, but I never visited this museum. I thought: “What could be interesting at the former military facility?” But I was wrong. This museum shocked me! Excellent light and sound accompaniment, a player with an audio guide, it helps to make a fascinating journey from a seemingly ordinary exposition. I was satisfied 😌
Then we went to see a quarry, which was supposed to look like a heart from a certain angle, but no matter how we looked at it, it didn’t look like a heart.
Then we went to Cape Fiolent. True, we were on the wrong side, I didn’t see anything impressing there.
The last place that day was the historical and archaeological reserve Chersonesos. We got there half an hour before closing time, so we looked at it quickly. But the territory there is small, so we managed to look at almost all of it. In fact, it was the right time to visit, because the setting sun made this place more picturesque, giving the ruins a golden tone 🌅
Having left the camping, I headed to Alushta. I wasn’t going to fly back right away, I wanted to see Crimea for a couple of days. I arrived in Alushta after sunset and checked into a cheap guest house.
I chose Alushta since this city is closest to the Chatyr-Dag mountain range. There are many caves on the plateau near this mountain. Two of them are perfectly equipped for tourists: the Marble Cave and the Mammoth Cave. As they write on the Internet, the Marble Cave is in the top 5 of the most beautiful equipped caves on the planet.
You could visit the caves with a travel agency, or order a taxi that would take you to the caves. However, these options are boring. I chose trekking 🚶♂️ I found information that the caves can be reached directly from the highway connecting Alushta and Simferopol. There are 2 trails for trekking: Ishachya and Krasnaya. So that my adventure was maximum, I decided to go to the caves by one path and return by another. The Ishachya trail is a little longer, but without steep sections, even an old lady will be able to go along it. The Krasnaya trail is shorter but steeper.
For more authenticity, I decided to use the cheapest transport, namely the trolleybus. In fact, trolleybuses are one of the features of Crimea, because they are intercity. In the morning I got to the village of Perevalnoye, from where the Ishachya trail begins. Even before the trip to Crimea, I explored everything, put marks on the map, so I easily found the paths I needed using GPS. A small section of the trail goes through the forest, nothing is interesting there. But then it goes along the rocky slope of the mountain with sparse vegetation, and the further you go, the more beautiful the views from above. All doubts about my decision to walk immediately disappeared from me, it’s worth it! Very beautiful around! Having found a path, it is easy to follow it even without a navigator, because there are marks on the trees in the forest, and outside the forest along the path, there are cairns. If you look at the map, you will see that this trail forks and converges in a couple of places, the advice I can give is to go along the longer sleeve, it will be less steep.
At the top, the mountain turns into a plateau. Walking along the track, I finally came across a kiosk by a cave, it was a ticket office. I immediately bought a ticket, the guide appointed the start time of the excursion. The cave can only be accessed with a guide. At first, I had the thought: “Again, commerce, they grabbed the territory and show for money”, but then I changed my mind, here this is the right decision. The owners have well equipped the caves (and continue to do so), and are carefully monitoring the preservation. Let wild tourists go there, so they break off all the stalactites and stalagmites, making the cave ugly, there are enough wild caves on the plateau, there is nothing to see there.
I thought I came to the Marble Cave, but it turned out that it was Mammoth. Well, since I had already bought a ticket, I decided to visit it first, I originally planned the other way around. There is lighting in the cave and paths are made, no special equipment is needed, but you should take a jacket, there is 9°C ❄️ The skeletons of ancient animals are the first to meet tourists in this cave. As we were told, a lot of bones were found here; since ancient times, animals fell into the cave through karst funnels and could not get out. But when you start moving further along the cave, you quickly forget about the skeletons, because incredible stalactites, and stalagmites, and other geological sculptures open up to your eyes. The cave is big! Classical music is played in one of the large grottoes, making the guide’s story even more impressive 🎻
I was extremely pleased with the visit to this cave. Great respect to the keepers of the cave for looking after it. I was looking forward to seeing what I would see in the Marble cave. It could be reached by road or by a short path through the forest, of course, I chose the second option.
There is a similar infrastructure, I bought a ticket at a kiosk, I also had to wait for the start of the excursion. This cave is larger, but I would not say that much. Its main feature is the many forms of stalagmites and stalagnates, many of them look like some kind of creatures after which they are named. Alas, there is no marble in the cave. There are white depositions on the walls – carbonates that didn’t have enough time (millions of years) and pressure to turn into marble. There is also a small stage in the cave, where from time to time concerts are held, and not only classics but also rock 🤘 But without percussion instruments.
If we compare these two caves, then Mammoth cave made a greater impression on me. The marble cave as a whole is of the same type, only there are many forms of stalagmites, while in Mammoth, the variety of textures and colors of the walls seemed to me richer.
There was still a day when I completed my inspection of the two most famous Crimean caves. But the plans did not end there, I wanted to visit two more wild caves: Tysyachegolovaya (translates as Thousand-headed) and Cold. I read about them, no special equipment is required to visit them, only a flashlight. I had a headlamp with me. They were located not very far from my position, but time was running out because there were 2.5 hours before sunset.
First I went to Tysyachegolovaya, followed the GPS, crowds of tourists don’t go to these caves, so the trail wasn’t always clearly visible. I was also scared by the saleswoman from the coffee shop near the cave I had visited. She said that one must beware of creeping juniper, that it likes to grow in deepenings, and thus can hide a karst crack 😱 I would not like to get into this, especially when there is not a soul around. I found the entrance to the cave, I walked in it quite a bit. I did not see anything interesting there, and it was also damp and very slippery in it.
Then I went to the Cold Cave, walked quickly, for the sun was already taking on a golden hue. I found the cave without any problems, went down into it, walked a little, and saw what I was looking for. A film was once shot in this cave, and a rock painting was made on one of the walls. I took a photo and went back. It seemed like it was possible to go even further, but I did not know how deep this cave was, I did not want to waste time on research, I had to get out.
There was some doubt as to whether it was worth going back along the Krasnaya trail, which is unknown to me, and the sun was approaching sunset. It was a little closer to it than to Ishachya, but still, I was not sure that I would have time to go down it before sunset. I could have gone down the Ishachya trail without any problems even in the dark, there is nothing difficult, moreover, I had a flashlight. But in the end, I decided to follow the plan. It took at least two kilometers to walk just to get onto the trail. Walking along it I saw familiar cairns. It was easy to walk, there was even a car footprint, which means that even cars can pass. But at some point, the car footprint turned sharply to the left, and a row of cairns stretched straight ahead. I looked at the map, the car’s track goes down in a long serpentine, I quickly discarded the idea of walking along it, I followed the plan. Soon the trail turned into a very steep descent along loose stones, although I read that it is steep, I did not expect this! The sun was no longer visible, so I slightly rushed down this hellish terrain. Soon my knees started to hurt. This descent took me 20-30 minutes, then it turned into a noticeably smoother path going through the forest. Then I got to the highway without any problems.
At dusk, I caught a trolleybus and returned to the city after dark. I was shocked by the number of drunks in Alushta, it even became disgusting from so many of them 🤢
There was one more attraction of Crimea that I wanted to visit, the Golitsyn trail. There were enough activities on my trip, I didn’t want to plan anything anymore, I just went to a travel agency. A full-day excursion, it included a visit to the Golitsyn trail in Novy Svet and a visit to the Genoese fortress in Sudak.
The Golitsyn trail was short, but because of the stories of the guide, we walked along it for two hours 😵 The weather was also disgusting, it was stormy, and the trail did not seem beautiful to me. I was disappointed. On the Internet, they describe it so beautifully… apparently, I had too high expectations.
If you are a lover of fortresses, then the Genoese Fortress is for you. It didn’t make a high impression on me. I was glad that the excursion was quick.
I returned to Alushta by six in the evening. I got the plane back at half-past one at night, so there was no need to rush. But since I had to check out before the excursion, I didn’t have a comfortable place to kill time. I decided to pick up my luggage from the guest house and go straight to the airport. I planned to do this authentically, on an intercity trolleybus 😁 Cheap and kill time a bit. In Simferopol, it stops near the railway station. Another trolleybus goes from it to the airport, and I used it.
The vacation was very active and eventful, without action there was not even half a day. Climbing the rocks here turned out to be more difficult than I expected, but I liked it. Just a couple of days were so-so, one when it was cold, another when I didn’t catch Lisa. In general, I noticed that the presence of the sun greatly affects my mood ☀️ After the last day, I felt some relief, because I was tired after all, and satisfaction that I did a good job on myself 😌 It seems to me that training on the rocks affects the skill, on the first day at the climbing gym after the vacation I felt some kind of confidence.
Egor is a good coach and he climbs great! It can be seen that he is working on his coaching skills. Among other things, he also acts as a photographer, and during trips to the rocks it worth a lot 📷
The negative aspect is the service in Crimea. After St. Petersburg it looks dull. Especially when it comes to the availability of good stores. Little lighting in cities. And the cities themselves are built up chaotically. But I liked the intercity trolleybuses, it’s very convenient!
As for the rocks, their abundance will not make you bored. Moreover, new areas are regularly seeded by new climbing routes. And this is not only Bakhchisarai. So I’m sure I will have a desire to go to the Crimea for rock climbing again, especially since I haven’t tried multi-pitch yet.