Earlier this year Katie and I travelled to Greece for some climbing and culture. We were welcomed by our gracious host, enlightened guide, and zealot of all things Greek, Dimitris. Dimitris was our oracle, enlightening us by explaining how extra virgin olive oil was different, how the ancient Athenians were the most YOLO people of all time, and how Cretians essentially won WWII for the allies by losing the Battle of Crete to the Germans. For the following three weeks, tidbits of Dimitris knowledge would float through our heads as we explored the Aegean. After staying with Dimitris for a day in Athens, we travelled to the island of Santorini.
Climbing on Santorini
After a few days of taking in the whitewashed walls of Santorini, we flew to Kalymnos, the Greek island that had drawn us to Greece. Kalymnos is a relatively obscure island in the corner of the Aegean close to Turkey. The small island hosts one of the premier sport climbing meccas of the world. We had a few days on our own and then were scheduled to meet our good friends Jeremy and Nicole; Jeremy has been talking about Kalymnos for as long as I can remember, and psych for the climbing was very high. Our plan was to spend a week knee-barring, bat hanging, and tufa throttling our way through as many overhanging walls as our skin and motivation could manage. That was my plan at least. Katie’s plan was primarily to eat as much tzaziki and moussaka as possible, while also potentially enjoying a few rock climbs.
Jeremy eats gluten free, and the only gluten free bread readily available on Kalymnos was a crusty package of tiny toast.
‘Neolithic Line’ (7c/5.12d)
Before Jeremy and Nicole arrived I found a project at Jurassic World wall and started putting in burns. The wall is a pretty far hike by Kalymnos standards, about 40 minutes mostly uphill, Katie was gracious enough to hike up there every day and belay. The route I worked on was Neolithic Line (5.12d/7c). The line pinches up a single tufa for nearly 50 feet with little opportunity for rest, and becomes progressively harder the higher up the wall you climb. I felt pretty lucky to do it after a couple of days of trying really hard.
Jeremy projecting through ‘Kulturistica’ (7b/5.12b) on Odyssey
The entire Kalymnos universe revolves around sport climbing. Every bar and restaurant has a climbing guidebook for planning the next day’s adventure, signs and light fixtures are held up with salty frayed climbing ropes, posters scrubbed yellow by time and the corrosive ocean air show historic ascents, shops play youtube climbing videos on loop, and friendly Greek restaurant owners, who have never put on a harness, ask what crag you went to that day. One of the local convenient stores even doubles as a climbing shoe resole shop.
Katie on ‘Blu’ (6a/5.10b) on Afternoon Wall. Nicole also climbed this route, terrifying everyone on the ground by clipping runout bolts after they were already beneath her knees. While we were all internally freaking out, she was cruising.
Our rest day bike ride landed us at Pirate Beach
The one that got away, ‘Team Sogndal Vertical’ (7c+/5.13a). After projecting this thing with Jeremy for a couple days, I climbed through the crux once on the last climbing day in Kalymnos, falling on the last pumpy 5.10 move a couple of feet from the anchor. I couldn’t get back up there again before we had to leave.
Nicole climbing ‘Joy in the Garden’ a tall 5.10 on Ghost Kitchen
Katie climbing in style on Bali Balo, one of the warm-ups on Ghost Kitchen
Jeremy climbing over the Aegean on ‘Tonge’ (7a+/5.12a) at Local Freezer. I believe Jeremy sent this thing in a couple of goes.
Overall, a very sendy and fun Kalymnos trip. It was way too short, but it was so rad to be able to hang out with Jeremy and Nicole internationally and hopefully we’ll be back. Goodbye Greece.