Uludag Tepe

  • Uludag Tepe
  • 2543 m
  • Primary factor 1504 m
  • Turkey
  • Location: North 40.07293, East 29.21661 (GPS on the summit)
  • Difficulty: YDS class 2
  • Attempted July 2. 2016.
  • Climbed March 3. 2017.


How to get there:
This mountain is located near a ski resort called Uludag Mili Park. Access is fairly easy, to drive from Istanbul takes about 3 hours. From Istanbul airport, take E-80 signed for Ankara. After crossing the Bosporus, continue on E-80 until you see the main exit for Izmir. Take this exit and cross the impressive suspension bridge (no 5 in the world when we drove across), This is a toll road (about 70 in local currency in 2017). The road is now also signed for Bursa. Follow these signs until you fork right inside the city of Bursa, this road (D-575), is signed with a brown sign, for Uludag Mili Park. Continue to follow these brown signs as the road exits Bursa while climbing the hill. You will eventually arrive at the Park entrance, there is a small fee (Turkish 9, in 2017). After about 10 more kilometer you arrive at the ski resort with a large number of hotels. This is a good place to start from.
Route description:
First, from the ski area, access the main crest of the Uludag mountains. This is running from west to east. A few skilifts have their upper station near this ridge. One can ski or hike from the upper end of the road (many hotels) uphill to reach the beginning of this ridge.
Next, follow the main ridge (in the beginning along a ski area service road slightly on the north side) passing a few humps on their left (north) side, in order to reach the col at the base of the somewhat larger hillside that extends up to the 2486 meter summit of Kesis Tepe. This peak has a structure (stone hut?) at the summit.
Continue gently downhill and follow the broad area further east to an area where the crest becomes a bit more well defined. There are several smaller humps that may be bypassed. Ascend a slope to what turns out to be a subsidiary summit. Descend gently to a shallow saddle before a final ascent to the summit.
For good measure, consider to continue a short stretch in order to also ascend the somewhat more distinct peak that is located next along the main crest.
Attempt on July 2. 2016
Heidi and I arrived in Istanbul on July 1. This was a Friday afternoon, the Ramadan was about to begin and the traffic jam on the road leading from the airport to the bridge across Bosporus was beyond comprehension. We arrived at our hotel in Bursa pretty late in the evening. Based on looking at maps (Google maps) as well as Google Earth, I believed that I could drive a 4WD SUV type vehicle up to the small lakes that are located just east of this summit. In fact, I had decided that this would be the easiest peak to climb among all the ones to be attempted during this summer trip.
The plan was to visit this peak the next morning, then drive onwards to our next hotel, leaving Bursa before 1200 - noon. I started out already at 0600, drove east along the base of the hills and tried to locate the roads that would take me uphill. Despite several attempts, I never located any road that would get me close to the mountain. At last, I gave up on this and drove back through the city, then uphill to Uludag Mili Park. From here, I could at least see the beginning of a route. My GPS informed me that a one way hiking distance would be minimum 7 kilometer. It was obvious that I could never get this done today and stay with our plans to leave around noon. I drove back down to Heidi in order to not fall badly behind with our scheduled travel.

When I failed to climb this peak in July 2016, I immediately thought that the "good news" was its fairly close location to Istanbul and that one could consider to climb it on a weekend trip in winter.
Climb on March 3. 2017
Pål Jørgen and I landed in Istanbul shortly after 1800 on Thursday, March 2nd. After the normal delays near a large airport, including some local traffic jam before the Bosporus bridge, we were moving at a better speed by 2000. The crossing of the new bridge was a highlight. Last summer, Heidi and I needed a ferry here. Our final hindrance was dense fog on the road up to the ski area. We arrived at 2300, absolutely time for sleep and hopefully, a good day on Friday.
After breakfast at 0800, I tried to buy ski lift tickets. No luck, the lifts did not run and the weather was very foggy indeed. We put on skins and decided to ski up the hill, not a big deal with these ski lifts. However, as we had started uphill, we observed another ski lift that had started running. We skied down to its base, got tickets for two days, then took this lift uphill. A little exploration, then a second lift and we were high on the mountain ridge, but sort of as far away from our goal as possible. None of the lifts that could have brought us a little closer seemed to operate.
The weather was now partially sunny and we decided to attempt our mountain from here. The skiing was nice and easy, we had no problems finding a good route along the ridge and across / around the two small humps before the slope leading up to Uludag Kesis. This mountain was partially hidden in a big cloud, but it looked as if the weather would continue to improve. We made a brief photo stop there, at 2486 meter, most of the uphill was done. It had taken us 45 minutes to get here, but almost 5 kilometer remained. The fog was still dense on this side of the mountain, but this did not cause much delay. Gradually, the fog lifted and we could see higher ground ahead.
We arrived at the summit at 1200, about 2 hours after we started. A few local summits with roughly the same elevation. The GPS location from Peaklist/Peakbagger was sort of between the two first tops. A third top, with a characteristic cliff face, was clearly lower, as we could see terrain behind it. Still, this may be the top that is called Kara Tepe. My GPS read 2551m and 2553m in two separate (each 4 minutes) readings. The reading on the first summit was 7 meter high (ie. 2493m), fairly consistent with a 8-10 meter high reading here. The first summit, that looked similar in elevation, had a reading of 2543m, so almost certainly lower.
We left after 20 minutes and skied back across very nice terrain, this time in good weather and visibility. Instead of skiing back to our starting point, we skied down the slopes from our last summit to join the alpine ski area in a small local valley. From here, we took a couple of T-bar lifts across and onto our local hill, then finally back down to our hotel. Altogether, the return trip took a bit longer, most likely due to various stops as well as the last part where we changed a bit into alpine skiing mode.

The next day, Saturday March 4th. was a superb day weatherwise. We skied in the ski area all day, only interrupted by a short break for lunch. We returned to Istanbul and Norway after breakfast on Sunday. An interesting experience, a weekend trip from Norway to Turkey for skiing in early March. Thanks to Pål Jørgen for good company.