Well we have just spent 6 weeks in climber’s paradise!
Many, many people had told us we should go to Kalymnos, it is amazing, the climbing is great, it is cheap (all climbers like this), it is beautiful and the locals are friendly, plus many other reasons.
When it comes to these kinds of recommendations, you tend to believe them but always with a little pinch of salt. Well Kalymnos needs no pinch of salt - all of the above is true and more!
Cath and I have had a magical time in Kalymnos climbing some of the best limestone I have ever been on. There are steep tufa-ridden enduro pitches, good technical face routes and even a few multi pitches to throw into the mix. The grades are not complete holiday grades but they are not sandbags either.
The locals have been wonderful and gone out of their way to be helpful. The food met all expectations and more, with fresh fish and beef stifado, mmmm
Kalymnos is in the Aegean sea just off the coast of Turkey. In fact it is closer to turkey than to mainland Greece.
We arrived just after the climbing festival at the end of October and the place was heaving with so many people, we were glad we didn’t arrive any earlier. But as the weeks moved on the crowds quickly reduced, and by the end of our trip it almost a ghost town. By late November very few places were open and there were very few climbers around. This meant we have had some of the most popular crags to ourselves, which has been very nice. However during the last couple of weeks there was an increase in rain. The storms have actually been spectacular in nature with lots of lightning and thunder. Fortunately it was easy to plan rest days around them so they have not had a big effect on us climbing wise.
Our first couple of weeks here we needed to find our feet again, and learn to climb through the mazes of tufas which Kalymnos is famous for. Fortunately some ‘almost locals’ Lee and Sam (actually Queenslanders, but don’t hold that against them) helped point us in the right direction. Unfortunately they left after a couple of days, as their trip in Kalymnos was finishing as ours was starting.
The next three weeks we spent climbing with three of the craziest girls, Lucy (from Sydney), Tracey (from Queensland) and Selene (from Canada). This led to many fun adventures and many goat noise impersonations and laughs. Including a very fun trip to Telendos, with more shenanigans than actual climbing.
Shenanigans - the video by Tracey Hua
Just as Lucy, Tracey, and Selene left we bumped into Chris who we had spent some time with in Mexico, Potrero Chico, about 4 years ago. We were lucky enough to be able to spend lots of time with Chris, his wife Heather and some friends of theirs from Colarado Bruce, Michelle and their daughter Uli.
|Cath on Gladiator 7b(25)|
Both Cath and my climbing has gone very well, with Cath ticking a 7b(25) Gladiator, the first 25 for her ‘post-operations’ and actually since we were in Mexico, and flashed her first couple of 7a+(24). I have managed my first ever 7c(27) flash on the very steep Priapos in the Grande Grotta.
Priapos is the ancient god of the supernaturally erect penis and with the amount of stalactites on this route you can understand why it was named after this god!
Priapos (the climb) was an amazing three-dimensional fight through a very steep tufa filled limestone cave. It overhangs approximately 15+m in 35m. Fortunately it has many rests by wrapping yourself around various stalactites, including some you can totally sit down on.
The very end of this route was almost my undoing, I was extremely pumped and squeezing in any marginal knee bar rest I could find to make it to the anchors.
After clipping the chains I was almost delirious while being lowered
This was definitely one of my best Flashes/onsights (draws were on), it is certainly my hardest.
Also while in Kalymnos I managed 3 other 7c’s:
Kaly diva at (not so secret) Secret Garden. Very technical climbing to a pumpy finish.
Lactic Shock at Ivory Tower, which was super fun, starting with a technical skinny tufa section and into big moves between pockets.
And lastly Aegialias, which is also in the Grande Grotta and is one of the most photographed routes in the world and it is worth it! This one definitely felt the hardest of the 4. The send was a fight of fights, I was tired when I started and didn’t climb very smoothly at all. I some how managed to struggle to each kneebar rest. Then after clipping the last draw before the anchor I totally blanked on what to do, managed to get back to a very poor rest of a 1000 positions (none of them good) and get just enough back to go for the anchors. With a lot of Sharma Screaming I managed the clip!
|Cats of Kalymnos|
Over our last couple of weeks in Kalymnos Cath rescued a very young kitten, only a few days old from behind a dumpster, where he had been abandonded.
This Kitten we named Pinky, and he would not have survived another night outside.
Fortunately Heather is a vet and checked him over and gave us advice on how to look after him, including on how to teach him to poo! (Don’t ask!!!!).
|Pink out and about.|
Over our last weeks Pinky came everywhere with us including the crag, carried in a little back pack with hot water bottle as he needed to be fed every few hours with a bottle.
Fortunately for Pinky when we left Heather and Chris took over the looking after and Bruce, Michelle and Uli will take up the reigns after that until about next may, which will give him a very good start to life
On the second last Thursday of November our American friends told us it was thanksgiving so we planned to head around to Bruce and Michelle’s for dinner.
It wasn’t until it was all planned etc. that they discovered that Thanksgiving is the last Thursday in November. So we just changed the name to Pranksgiving and had an enormous feast anyway. As well as a now traditional treasure hunt!
The next Thursday (the last in the month) was also our last night in Kalymnos and we got to experience our first actual thanksgiving, which was an amazing night much like Pranksgiving, full of food and wine, but mostly it was full of laughter with old and new friends, plus another treasure hunt. And it was the perfect way to finish this leg of our trip.
All in all Kalymnos more than lived up to the hype. It is a wonderful place to visit as a climber and we hope to return sooner rather than later.
Kalymnos - The Invasion!by Catherine de Vaus
A little video which perfectly demonstrates life on Kalymnos
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