Turkey's first ice park offers uniquely extended training period

Turkey's first artificial ice park opened in November of 2019 in the eastern city of Erzurum. Located on the side of Palandöken Mountain, the park was founded thanks to members of the Turkish Mountaineering Federation who thought Erzurum would be a good location for an ice wall. The wall froze over at the end of November 2019, and will remain frozen till the end of April, presenting a uniquely long period for training.

Serpil Kurtay / Duvar

Turkey's first artificial ice park opened Nov. 24, 2019 just five kilometers from the center of the eastern city of Erzurum, on the side of Palandöken Mountain.

The ice park was an idea that stemmed from a combination of a few professional Turkish mountain climbers' love for the sport and the ideal landscape of Erzurum.

Turkish Mountaineering Foundation (TDF) Erzurum Representative Erdal Emeç, mountain skiing trainer Mustafa Tekin and climbing trainer Yıldırım Beyazıt Öztürk saw some footage of an ice park on social media in 2016.

The professional mountaineers thought that Erzurum's Palandöken Ski Center would be an ideal destination for an ice park, and offered it up to the TDF administration.

The project was pushed back three years, but construction started in October of 2019.

Ice parks usually feature an ice wall for ice climbing, a combination of rock climbing and mountain climbing.

(left to right) TDF Erzurum Representative Erdal Emeç, Tunç Fındık who created the ice park's climbing routes, nature broadcaster Serdar Kılıç, mountain skiing trainer Mustafa Tekin and climbing trainer Yıldırım Beyazıt Öztürk

Freezing the wall

A concrete barrier built to prevent rocks falling onto the ski slopes presented an ideal site for an ice wall.

The 20-meter-high and 150-meter-wide wall was equipped with a pipeline that stemmed from a nearby creek.

An automated watering system was then installed on the wall to spray water every 10 to 15 meters.

The wall started freezing as soon as a week after the installments despite the above-normal temperatures in Erzurum.

Trainers noted that ice walls are hardly ready at the end of November even, so Erzurum presented a unique opportunity to take advantage of a long training season lasting till April.

Features of the ice park

The ice park is unique in its combination of skiing, snowboarding and ice climbing.

The park attracts a wide range of climbers with its routes that vary in height and slope.

The wall allows ten climbers to practice at once and is lit up at night to allow climbers to continue after sunset.

The ice park is located just five kilometers from downtown Erzurum.

First festival, first championship

The first ever Palandöken Outdoor Festival was held at the park from Jan. 10 to Jan. 12.

Mountain skiing, ice climbing and mountain biking were among the activities featured in the festival that is expected to draw large crowds in coming years.

The park will also host its first competition on Jan. 18 and 19 with the Turkey Ice Climbing Championship.

The five female and 41 male competitors will adhere to International Mountaineering Federation (UIAA) standards in the championship.