Nazo climbs in Geyikbayiri, Turkey

SO. Here’s a funny story. I decided to escape to Turkey after completing a month-long, insane, frenzied work schedule that coincided with a painful break-up. Both had their reasons, I suppose and it was an excuse for a perfect getaway. I imagined myself relaxing in the country’s southern coast mountains and dreaming of basking, not only in the sun, but in the attention and in the reflections of the sweaty, toned bodies of gorgeous European climbers. What I didn’t realize was that most of them would be women.

I get to the camp at the start of Geyikbayiri’s climbing season so there were about fifteen to twenty climbers about. Ninety-five percent were women. It was awesome to have this sisterly bond embracing me while there. There were girls from Italy, Germany, Sweden (half Peruvian, half Swedish sisters), France, the UK and local Turks. It was very cool to see such an international crowd of women passionately sharing the love of being outdoors and another bond: a love of mountains and a goal of learning to ascend them.

I saw Nazo briefly upon arrival but it was not until later when leaving my bungalow that she coincidentally happened to be walking by and I bumped into her. Exquisitely beautiful and fit, I immediately took to her because she seemed like she had lived a world full of experiences and had a captivating and genuine personality. Upon speaking with her more that day at camp, I discovered a not only physically strong woman but an exceptionally spiritually strong human being. My type of human being! She lives to inspire and share her vivid energy and there is obviously no hiding it in the words of her interview. But just remember; this piece on her is only a tiny piece of her infinite soul.

Nazo climbing in Turkey

RRRG: Hi Nazo! How do you say hello in Turkish Cypriot? Is the Turkish there the same as what they would speak in say, Istanbul?

NC: We say “Mehr HAH ba”..that’s “hello”. The Turkish dialect spoken in the North of Cyprus is different from the one in Turkey. Of course, it’s both Turkish but if we speak in a Turkish Cypriot way, some people from Turkey might have a hard time understanding.

RRRG: How long have you been climbing?

NC: I think it was around 2001….around then some time.

RRRG: How did you learn about climbing? Through a magazine? Friends?

NC: It was totally random! I had NO IDEA that something like this existed and had never heard of it or seen anyone climbing before. My roommate and I were staying in Maine during the summer to work on our thesis and we were looking for an activity; searching for something but did not know what! So she signed us up for a climbing course and I had no idea what I was getting into………. little did I know that that weekend would change my life once and for all !!!!! We attended the course and the minute I got on my first route, I knew it: I had an immediate connection with climbing; the movement, the rock, the nature and the challenge and here we are…..

RRRG: Where are you originally from? And how is the climbing there? :D

NC: I am from Cyprus; from the northern part of the island. The climbing in Cyprus?! Okay: on the southern part of the island, there is a lot more developed climbing than the northern part. The northern part of the island is where the Turkish Cypriots live and in the southern part, that is where the Greek Cypriot lives.

Actually, until I moved back to Cyprus from the US, the northern Turkish part of the island had no climbing routes at all. I personally funded the first bolted routes ever and then a really, really good friend of mine, Inan, supported me with the funding and we opened about 20 bolted routes on the northern part of the island. Dogan Palut, a very strong, good climber, who has bolted MANY routes in Turkey came to the northern part of the island and bolted the first routes on the north part of Cyprus. (this was in 2006; Tunc Findik and Sinan Demirtas were also on the trip to Cyprus together with Dogan) The potential on the northern part of the island is huge. We just need funding and then off we bolt. There is potential for trad climbing as well and another really good friend, Tuze has opened some trad routes on the island.

The rock on the northern part of the island is mainly limestone. Some edges, and some pockets, a lot of vertical rock and some overhanging faces as well. The color of the limestone is beautiful; it’s orange in some places, and there is also some faces (where there are no routes) with blueish, gray lines on the rock.. very inspiring ….

Starting up….Kalymnos, Greece

RRRG: What type of climbing do you enjoy? Trad? Sport? Bouldering? DWS (deep water soloing)?? ALL?

NC: I love it all!! I don’t think I can differentiate one from the other. In each style I experience something different and I discover a different part of myself. I am in love with climbing period. I am mainly a sport climber, but now I am getting more and more involved in trad. I am mainly trad climbing on limestone. Let me tell you it’s very different from the granite trad!!

I love the physical part of sport climbing, it feels more like gymnastics and you can be really creative with your own body without having to worry about placements. You can just focus on your body and the movement. Trad climbing mentally pushes me and I love that I get scared on a 5.9 ! It’s like a reality check! It brings me back to life and reminds me how multidimensional climbing is…… so with trad I love the creativity of the mind. When you find a very creative placement you’re like wooowww that’s awesome or “sh^&*” that gear blows but I am going anyways!

I fell in love with bouldering when I went to bishop! I love the freedom of having no rope, no gear, nothing. But I think it’s that burst of energy that fires through my whole body that I love when I am bouldering. I have to push it sooooo hard for a small amount of time and then relax. I think I am good at sudden pushes so bouldering really fits me since I have more strength than endurance….but I don’t boulder that much anymore.

I have NEVER tried DWS other than just kind of scrambling around rocks near the sea. I cannot wait to try it .. I feel that it may be sooooooooo much FUN !

Climbing in Kalymnos

RRRG: Do you ever get scared on climbs? If yes, how do you control the fear?

NC: I think one of the main lessons climbing has taught me is how to ‘relax into’ it and how to become ”tranquil”. The mental part and controlling the fear is certainly the hardest part of climbing for me! It comes and goes. Sometimes I can just focus on the moves and have faith and other times, I focus on falling and I scare myself even more. I think the more regularly I climb, the less scared I get. I think my body gets in shape faster than my mind does.

I find so many similarities with the way that I climb and the way I live my life. There are periods in my life that I am scared to take a step, and that resembles to me the periods in climbing when I m scared of making the next move because it’s like walking into the unknown. Life decisions and climbing movement go hand in hand for me. When my energy is not flowing freely, my climbing movement is very choppy as well.. but when I am free in my life, I can move freely on the rock, make a next move and not get scared of falling. When you fall, you start again, just like we do in life. No failing, just going back to the drawing board………..


RRRG: What is the most important thing that climbing has taught you?

NC: It has taught me again and again not to be scared of the unknown and to just throw myself into it; to take a plunge into life…. that everything is going to be much better than I thought. It has also taught me (to some extent) to shut off my mind and directly connect with my body and judge. To listen to the feelings generated in my body and not to listen to the stream of thoughts that flow through my mind when making the next move……… simply to just believe in myself ……..

Nazo climbing in Kalymnos, Greece

RRRG: What areas have you climbed around the world? And do you have a favorite?

NC: I started climbing in the US so I have climbed all over there. Other than the US, I moved back to my home country, Cyprus and I have climbed around Cyprus, Turkey, Greece and a little in Spain. My favorite? That’s a very hard question… there is NO FAVORITE for me. I am in love wtih the desert and I miss Indian Creek (Moab, Utah) and the desert towers so much……

I appreciate each area for what it is and I feel grateful that I have discovered climbing. I cherish every moment that I have with climbing. Every time I go to a new place I feel even more and more thankful to climb because if it was not for this passion I would not have gone to more than half the places that I’ve been to and I would not have met the most amazing people that I have in my life.

In Bishop, V3 problem

RRRG: Do you have any other hobbies besides climbing?

NC: I love yoga; Yoga and climbing are parallel passions – I REALLY enjoy both deeply. Running is also another passion for me. I have only done one marathon but I am looking forward to doing more. Of course being from the Mediterranean, I love the sea, swimming, snorkeling; anything with the water, sign me in. I love hiking, biking, oh and how can I forget! …slack lining. I have a slack line in my garden, going from one olive tree to the other. I love it!!

I have JUST started learning how to kite-surf and that’s also becoming a big passion for me. I am a beginner in that but I enjoy it very much when I have the chance to go out.

RRRG: Tell us about Cyprus. What is the island like?

NC: Cyprus is a very, very beautiful island. Its mostly Greek. Greek and Turkish Cypriots live on the island together. It’s the third largest island in the Mediterranean but it’s still pretty small. Population is less than a million. I do not want to get into the politics of the island, all I can say that I hope that real peace is found and a solution is made soon.

We have pristine beaches, beautiful mountains…. it’s a typical Mediterranean island; not very lush and green but there are pine trees, olive trees and carob trees on the island. Some parts of the island are pretty green. The people are warm and friendly and the life style is very easy going and releaxed. Not many people are outdoorsy though. There is a lot that can be done in the outdoors but many people do not get out to do a lot of activities that much, but of course there are exceptions.
The families are really close with each other, so there is a lot of eating drinking and chilling out.

RRRG: What is the regular diet like there? What do people eat? What do you eat to stay healthy?

NC: People eat a lot of lamb here: sish kebap, doner (gyro) so actually, the meat consumption on the island is quite a bit. There are stews which are special to the island. We also eat a lot of grains, fruits and vegetables. I must admit fruits and vegetables taste so much better here than they did in the US. My favorite is FIG :) There are lots of fig trees all over the island. People cook a lot with olive oil. The Mediterranean style food is very delicious!!

When it comes to my diet, I have a problem with sugar, I eat loads of sugar, so I am trying to minimize that recently. Outside of sugar, my diet consists of loads of vegetable stews and grilled fish and nuts. My dad is the most amazing cook ever !!!!

RRRG: Do you have a climbing gym to train there? Or do you train outside?

NC: Nope. There are NO climbing gyms whatsoever in the north where I live. But I just built a wall in my home. It’s a very small bouldering wall. Finding partners is not as easy as it was in Utah but I have a REALLY good Greek Cypriot friend who is a climber. When she is in Cyprus we meet and climbed together! I also have some Turkish Cypriot friends that I go climbing with sometimes. As long as I can get motivated, I try to get on my wall. As long as I have partners, I’d like to hit the crags and to be outside to feel the fresh air and be on the rock!

RRRG: Is the weather always nice there? Or do you have a rainy season?

NC:  Right now in this season December/January the temps are in the 60s F and this is the rainy season. We really don’t have a proper rainy season where it would rain days on without stopping but from November until March we might have rain fall. The island is quite dry actually. I think in the last five years only this year it has rained a few days in a row and it’s good because we do need the rain. The summers are way hot; above 100 F !! Hot, hot, hot!!!!
I think the best season here is fall; September, October, even November and March, April, May…
Since the area where the bolted routes are are in the shade on a summer day you can climb and swim on the same day. Climbing is only ten minutes from the sea……

RRRG: What are your future goals?

NC: I have some personal goals and also some goals for Cyprus. I would love to be involved in bringing climbing to Cyprus; to the north that is, which we already started doing in 2006. I want to find some funding to open more routes on the island because the potential is huge. Other than that, I would LOOOOVEE to inspire kids and young people and TODAY actually was the first time EVER on the north part of Cyprus that kids climbed in a local school. They contacted me months ago about hearing of climbing and they want to build a wall, so I have been helping them out. Now there is a wall in one of the schools. Today, the school organized an activity day and invited all the other schools out, from age groups 9-15. I placed the holds on this wall and set up routes and in today’s activity I could see the kids fell in love with climbing. I am sooooooooo inspired to inspire…. kids are so much fun to work with, they are sooooooooo pure and cute and of course, some of them are crazy but still AWESOME in a good way………

Personally I just want to quit everything (including my job as a consultant) and get on the road. I am sooo tempted to do this all the time. I think of this all day long, all the time; while at work, while at home. I know it’s time for me….. I know I will do it, because I want to and it’s calling me. That’s my biggest dream/goal…. to be on the road for at least a year traveling the world……

Setting routes for kid’s wall, promoting climbing on the island of Cyprus

The girls learning and trying out climbing on the island of Cyprus

In Bishop; Ironman Traverse, V4