HAKKARİ - Anadolu Agency
Access to Cilo Mountain, located in the southeastern province of Hakkari, was forbidden after 1982 due to militant activity in the surrounding mountains. AA photo
A group of mountain climbers have completed on Aug. 22 the first ascension of Cilo Mountain in 31 years. The mountain is Turkey's second highest peak behind the legendary Mount Ağrı, and access to the summit has long been forbidden due to security concerns.
Located in the southeastern province of Hakkari, which borders both Iran
and Iraq, access to Cilo Mountain was forbidden after 1982 due to militant activity in the surrounding mountains.
However, the ongoing withdrawal of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants from Turkish soil as part of the Kurdish peace process has raised hopes that the forbidden zones will be opened to the use of local villagers and breeders, as well as tourists.
A group comprising veteran climber Tunç Fındık, whose résumé includes Mount Everest and K2, completed the climb to the highest summit, the 4,130-meter-high Mount Reşko, in 23 hours.
Fındık said the beauties of the Hakkari Mountains were unique in the world and hailed the initiative.
The organizers of the climb said demand had exploded since the start of the process. "We hosted around 500 photographers, travelers and nature-lovers in Hakkari for four months. As climbers, we find the peace process very important and believe that steps to move it forward should be made as soon as possible," local climber and guide Hacı Tansu said.
"Thanks to the process, our mountain town will reacquire its true identity. We want climbers, campers, photographers, scouts and youth camps in our mountains," he added.
The first ever ascent of Mount Reşko was completed by German
climbers in 1931.
The area around Cilo Mountain is known for its well preserved, one-of-a-kind endemic flora, such as the "reverse tulips," a unique species that grows with its flower facing the ground. This flower is also called "the crying tulip," as it excretes water from its stem every morning.
The areas untouched wildlife carries some surprises too, being home to the notorious Anatolian leopards, once thought of as extinct. If the reports of villagers and locals are true, around 10 leopards were spotted in the area in 2005.
The opening routes are now seen as a blessing for Hakkari, one of the poorest and most underdeveloped provinces of Turkey, to shake off its image as a danger zone, and transform itself into a center for adventurous travelers.