The potential for climbing on the Greek island of Kalymnos was discovered by the end of the past century and since then it rapidly turned into one of the best and original spots for sport climbing on the planet, with more than 2000 bolted routes to date. With many friends of mine having been there and telling me such great stories of how beautiful and unique their trip was, it was only a matter of time until I decided to have a look by myself.
Despite the best season for climbing in Kalymnos being spring or fall, our decision was to go in summer. The conditions for climbing would be on the warmer (boiling) side, but chilling at the beach would be prime! More of a holiday and perfect to have a glance on the climbing there.
Above: The grand swing from the Grand Grotto. A classic Kalymnos photo for many climbers.
So my girl and I booked a two week trip and psyche was high, I got me a nice 80 meter rope, lots of quickdraws and extension-slings, sunscreen lotion - I was ready to do some Kalymnian monster routes!
We arrived at Masouri, the place to stay as a climber, and first got ourselves one of Eric`s scooters at Best Moto. His scooters will let you shine on every steep road and besides he and his wife Irma gave us so much information and tips for what to do and where to go on the island... not to forget "Best Moto beer-time" everyday at 8pm and the BBQ... thanks a lot guys!! Once mobile, we headed straight to one of the biggest cliffs of the island, the Grande Grotta.
Above: The incredible upside down World of the Grand Grotto.
Well... it's huge! Just looking at it I felt pumped already and looking up to the pitches first was really intimidating: all you see is a forest of tufas and stalactites and no ending... but the climbing looked more than fun! I had a good first day on sighting some classics there, such as the "Priapos", a 35 meter 7c with literally just jugs and good rests all the way but it's so steep and confusing with all the stalactites that I got pretty pumped. And taking out the quickdraws is even harder than climbing the route....
After the first day we were infected. Our days consisted of getting up early in the morning for breakfast on the terrace with a beautiful view on the neighbouring island Telendos, climbing on a bad ass cliff afterwards and hanging out at a bad ass beach in the afternoon just to round up the day with some nice Greek food...
Above: Looking down into the Silkati Cave
One of the more outstanding days we had at Sikati Cave. This incredible phenomenon of nature is a giant amphitheatre - like a cave stamped into a hillside just above a beautiful beach. At first you have to hike there for about 40 minutes but your efforts will pay more than off: you lower down into this giant pot to find yourself surrounded by some of the craziest and longest routes I've ever seen! At the highest point the walls are about 70 meters high and there are routes up to that point! Basically my 80m rope was worthless if I had wanted to go for the real deal, so I did the "shorter" ones: first warming up on a 30 meters 7b, "Mort aux Chevres", incredible, then moving on to on sight "Morgan Adam" 7c+, 35 meters, even better. After that I thought it was time to test myself on an on sight attempt of one of the bigger ones, the 45 meter route "Super Lolita" 8a.
Above: Equiped for expedition sport climbing!
It was more like an expedition! About 20 quickdraws, most of them doubled and two long slings to get control over the ropedrag. I started climbing and it seemed endless... Every time I climbed up around an overhang I was facing the next one. It took me 40 minutes to get that route done on sight and about 20 to get the gear out... I was worked. Completely out of steam. But satisfied! We went down to the Sikati beach to chill and swim and then hiked out. A perfect day...
Above: The end to another perfect day of climbing with the sun setting behind the island of Telendos.
Another epitome for climbing in Kalymnos is the 40 meter roof "Fun de Chichunne" 8a in the Grande Grotta. First eye contact was made on our very first climbing day and after gaining confidence at Sikati I felt ready to give it an on sight burn... The climbing on it is so much fun!! Just imagine 40 meters in a roof full of giant tufas, blobs and stalactites... the best tactic for me seemed to always eye for the next big stalactite that looked like I could sit on it and race to it. I worked my way through that endless roof and clipped the chains with a big smile on my face that stayed for quite long that day.
Back in Innsbruck now I can't wait to return. What I saw and climbed there was just the tip of the iceberg and if I imagine those cool and windy conditions at other times of the year... I will be back!