Kalymnos Diary

Posted by Bob Hickish
Monday 2nd February 2009

Kalymnos: who hasn't heard of this Greek sport climbing paradise? Famed for its world class super long stamina routes I knew I had to check it out. Me and Tash had decided to have a second gap year so with time not being an issue we had the luxury of being able to go for 4 weeks. On the first day, after a grueling 48-hour sleep deprived journey, I clipped the chains of the awesome 40m Spartacus Maximus (7c), and knew it was going to be a great trip.

...enjoying some rest and relaxation on steep ground.

One of the best things about Kalymnos is the people, the locals are exceptionally friendly, and at the crags you are guaranteed to make friends with all the like minded climbers. But the reason many people come here and probably the most famous crag of Kalymnos is the Grande Grotte, home to many renowned routes such as Aegialis, DNA, IVI and Priapos.

The most photogenic route in the world: Aegialis (7c). Dave Potts goes for a late evening burn.

It is also the location of my own personal favourite send, which was onsighting Fun de Chichune (8a), 45m of psychedelic steep tufa climbing. For this mammoth adventure into the realm of overhanging, you will need 28 quickdraws (almost big walling!) and a bucket load of energy; at one point I was so pumped that, despite having my arm looped through a tufa, I felt on the very edge of fainting.

Lost in a sea of tufas, on the classic adventure Fun de Chichune 8a

Due to lack of funds we mostly bucked the trend of hiring a moped, instead preferring to cadge a lift on the back of someone else. There's nothing quite like sitting on the back of a moped with another man between your thighs (!) speeding round the hairpins on the way to Sikati Cave. More a huge hole in the ground than a cave, Sikati is home to some obscenely large routes. A favorite of mine was Super Lolita 8a, which has the crux right at the top (47m up) rocking onto a slab with small crimps and pumped forearms. I also enjoyed onsighting Adam, which although I felt was a softie for the 8a grade, required a fair bit of commitment at the crux due to a foot lock which conjures images of  leaving behind a bloodied ankle stump should the pump get too much.

Tash getting to know some of the local wildlife.

Rich Horn making a fast ascent of a 7c at Cave Sector. 

Generally, people don't do much redpointing at Kalymnos as the routes are so long it's hard to summon up the energy to go up them multiple times. However one route I knew I would have to dowas Rendez with Platon (8b). This route is quite amazing: pretty much every hold is a sinker pocket. Should be easy right? But they're all far apart, requiring plenty of dynamic moves to make the spans. And it's overhanging all the way, crossing a 4m roof. Thankfully I did it quickly, as it has the longest walk in of any crag on Kalymnos!

Some of the gymnastics on the amazing Rendez With Platon 8b

My last day was spent helping Tash to redpoint her first 7a, swimming in the sea and in the company of good friends. A perfect end to a great trip.

 A classic sunset view of the neighbouring island of Telendos


Read more blog entries by Bob Hickish

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