Kackar Dagi

  • Kackar Dagi
  • 3931 m
  • Prominence 2271 m
  • Location: North 40.83546, East 041.16137 (GPS at the summit)
  • Turkey
  • Difficulty: YDS class 2+
  • Climbed: September 4, 2021


How to get there:
The starting point for this climb is the tiny village of Olgunlar. Olgunlar is located at the end of the road at location N40.85950, E041.24192, about 2115 meter of elevation. A very nice accommodation is located there. Kackar Pansiyon is highly recommended. See contact information on the sign, this link may also work.
Olgunlar is connected by a reasonable road to the nearest town of considerable size, Yusufeli. Yusufeli in turn may be reached via a good highway from Erzurum.
Route description:
This is a fairly long climb to do in one day, it is a definite option to break this into a 2 day trip. In the main season, July and August, the Kackar Pansiyon operates some services at the location we shall call BC (Base Camp). One may also consider spending a night about 500 meter higher, right next to a beautiful mountain lake.
From the Pansiyon, walk up through the village, you will see a small restaurant on your right just before you cross the river on a good bridge. There is a very good trail from here to BC. You will have the river on your right hand side all the way. Generally, the trail runs quite a bit higher than the river (with a couple of exceptions). The distance to BC is approximately 8 kilometer with an elevation gain of 700 meter, most of this in the last part before arriving in BC.
The next stage is from BC to the lake. The trail climbs more now, first zig-zags directly uphill, then turning right as the climb continues before a somewhat more level finish arriving at the lake. This lake is at elevation 3360m, so slightly less than 600 m net gain remains.
Continue up the hill that starts just across the outlet from the lake. Follow this trail across this first hump, the route continues flat, then uphill to reach a (low) saddle on the ridge ahead. The trail is only partially present, rocks cover parts of the ground.
From this saddle descend more steeply towards a small pond below. Follow the cairned trail here. Next, ascend the ridge and the somewhat bigger (brown) hump ahead. After a minimal descent on the oppsite side (bear left), follow the cairns as they lead across the rock bearing right. There are even a few red arrows painted on the rock that confirm the path. It is generally well cairned in this area. The next, short section is a traverse to reach the bowl, not difficult under dry conditions, but I still assign (YDS) class 2+, it is the crux of the route. If the rocks are icy or slippery, then caution is needed as the passage has some exposure.
The route now makes an obvious zig-zag in order to eventally reach the main (horizon) ridge somewhat left of the summit. The route is marked with cairns and the path, often zig-zags, it is quite visible. Finally, near the main ridge, traverse right to gain the summit. The summit has a visitor register placed in a metal box as well as a Turkish flag.
The day before, I had driven from Adilcevaz, at the base of Suphan Dagi and on the shore of the big lake Van. The drive took me through a very deep and fascinating canyon before reaching the town named Yusufeli. The road continued, but now very narrow, then suddenly ended in what looked like an industial site. The only option was to drive up a side-valley (left), however my map clearly showed this to be a dead end road. I started to worry that Google Maps had led me astray once more! Perhaps there simply was no road going through here, a long detour west and north to the Black Sea?
There was little to loose in checking out the only road available (the dead end up the valley). To my great surprise, this turned out to work. After driving on very narrow dirt roads, suddenly a big concrete bridge with ramps for entry and exit appeared. It seemed utterly out of place! Entering, I was soon driving through a sequence of 3 tunnels, all wide and obviously very recently built. This solved my problem and was in fact, a big relief. I later learned that all this construction is related to the building of a new dam in the valley.
What remained was basically to follow the river, again on quite narrow rods. The area seemed very remote indeed. I drove through the last little village, then continued a short stretch up the valley to the small community at the end of the road. This place is called Olgunlar.
The Kackar Pansiyon turned out to be extremely nice and ideal as a base for walks in the area, in particular to climb Kackar. They serve breakfast and dinner and also help with any and all practial matters. It is a family business - the people are very nice and service oriented.
I decided to make the climb in a long day rather than carry my sleeping bag and spend a night as originally planned. This was in part motivated by the very attractive accommodation in Olgunlar.
Thus, I left at 0330 and arrived at BC when daylight arrived. The trail between Olgunlar and BC is easy to walk and quite good also for night travel. I continued up to the lake, arriving there at 0700. A good view down the valley showing morning clouds below. I also noticed that the mountain had received its first snow of the season on Friday (just the day before). The grass had frost and the scree was frozen. Moreover, many rocks had a thin coating of ice (verglas), making them very slippery.
This lake is a very nice place and I decided that a break would be useful. The sun was now warming and I believed that it would quickly melt the slippery ice. A 30 minute wait might indeed pay off. Now, 5 hikers from Istanbul that had their camp nearby, arrived. We talked briefly, they intended to climb the peak and started out ahead.
I finished a small breakfast, then continued. I caught up with the other group at the col, just before the descent to the small pond. Unfortunately, the sun did not really change the conditions on ascent. The rocks were partially covered by ice and care was needed. In particular, the short traverse that is the crux of the route, was still quite icy.
I made good progress despite the snow and arrived on the summit at 1000, 2.5 hours from the lake. Very nice views all around. A big mountain to the east was clearly visible. Upon returning, we figured out that this was Kazbek in Georgia. I signed the visitor register, noting that my entry was the first in September. Another peak that stood out was xxx to the west. Half an hour on the top ran quickly, I started my descent at 1030. I met the Turkish group around 1100, they still had quite a bit of ascent left before the summit. Back at the lake in 2 hours, the sun had done its work. The snow still remained, but much of the ice was gone.
No need to leave this place too quickly. I decided to take another 30 minute break by the lake. Finally leaving at 1300, I walked back to the village in 2:10, arriving at 1510. It had been a very good day indeed.