This is a very scenic route, passing through several beatiful lake basins. It can be done in a long day, but it will be much more enjoyable if done in two days or more. The Artabel lake basin, and in particular "Adali Gol" (Lake with an Island), is a perfect place to set up camp. From there you can launch your climb to Abdal Musa or other peaks. The route is rated as Class 2, but some short sections feel more like Class 3.
You should be aware of the good possibility of bad weather and fog any day of the year in this area. Be prepared and take warm clothes and raincoat with you. Also take a good mental picture of the route on your way to the summit. You may also make your own ducks (pile of rocks) to mark your route.
From downtown Gumushane, drive west to the town of Ikisu ("Two Waters"). This will take about 10-15 minutes. Ikisu is the confluence of the Harsit River (traveling northwest) and Gulacar Creek (traveling east from the Gavur Mountains). Here you make a left into a secondary road which follows Gulacar Creek. From here it takes about one hour to get to Artabel. Be aware of the forks on the road that lead to other valleys and villages. You should be on the "main" road. Bring a map to make sure you don’t take a wrong turn. The road is paved until the town of Musalla (aka, Inkilap). From then onwards it’s a dirt road. Transportation along this route should improve significantly once a new highway that is currently under construction is finished. The new highway is supposed to connect Torul and Siran via Gulacar Creek. The highway’s planned route is to veer southwest before reaching Artabel to cross the Gavur Mountains on their lower southern edge. But the remaining distance to Artabel will be short. Once in Artabel, you can continue driving to a yayla (elevation 2400 m), though the road gets a little rough. However, unless there is rockfall on the road, a high-clearance vehicle shouldn’t have any problems. If you can’t reach the yayla, you can start hiking from the highest point your vehicle can go.
Waterfall along the trail
There is a use trail starting at the parking lot at the end of the road (elevation 2400 m). You can take this trail, which is about 200m above the creek. Alternatively you can walk along the creek and pick up the trail later on. As you go uphill, enjoy the beautiful scenery. There are several cascading streams on both sides of the valley and lots of wildflowers. The village of Artabel at the bottom of the valley becomes smaller and smaller as you hike into the mountains. The trail eventually fades away, but you don't really need it. Stay on the right (north) side of the main creek. As you go up, there are several streams that join the main creek, which is the outlet of Adali Gol, your first intermediate destination. Passing through meadows and rocky slopes, and keeping to the north side of the valley, you will arrive at Adali Gol. Take a break and enjoy the breathtaking scenery here (elevation 2865 m). If you are planning to camp, this is a perfect location to spend the night.
Adali Gol (Lake with an Island)
Route outline near Adali Gol
Your next intermediate goal is to climb the round peak rising from the north side of Adali Gol. The round peak is approximately 300m (1000 ft) above the lake. To get to the top of the peak, you will climb the scree slope on the north side of the lake. First ascend the slope diagonally to the right to bypass a rock band. Then ascend diagonally to the left. When you are near top of the round peak, you should see a big duck, marking your way (elevation 3170 m).
Rough outline of the route across the rocky basin
...and across a large snow bowl
Standing on the round peak, if you now look directly to the north, you should see Abdal Musa across the basin in front of you. Your next goal is to descend into this glacier-scoured basin and cross it to reach the base of Abdal Musa. You will lose some valuable elevation in this process, but you should get used to the idea: you will be doing several ups and downs along this rocky basin. Before you proceed, enjoy the gorgeous scenery of the Five-Lakes basin to the north east. Go down into the bowl and cross the snow fields. The snow may be hard, be careful so as not to slip. An ice axe and/or crampons would be useful here. Eventually you will arrive at the base (just to the south) of Abdal Musa (elevation 3090 m). Take another break and refuel. You have some more climbing to do.
Aim for the low point on the ridge connecting Abdal Musa to the next peak on the south. You will essentially follow the South Ridge of Abdal Musa, but stay slightly lower than the ridgeline (on the west side). There are lots of scree and talus on the west side of the peak, and many chutes go down to the Three-Lakes basin. Traverse just below the ridge, going up and up towards the summit. When you are just below the summit, you will see a chute. This chute is Class 3, but easy to climb. There are lots of loose rocks, however. Watch your step and be mindful of rockfall on your climbing partners below you. When you see a big duck, you've reached the summit -- congratulations. The summit register is hidden inside the rock pile. Take out a few rocks from the bottom of the pile and you should see the summit register.
Follow the exact same route on your way back and be patient. Good luck on the climb up the round peak -- you may feel bad, but at least the rest is all downhill.
In the spring and early summer, snowshoes may be necessary. Depending the on the snow conditions, you may need ice axe and/or crampons, most likely before mid-summer. Please note that avalanches are common in the winter and can continue into the spring.
"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings"