Kalymnos! We are finally here! This island has been a dream of ours to visit and now that we are here, it feels surreal. The climbing and beauty of the island has even passed our expectations. We also finally know how to say Kalymnos properly (stress on the a, not the y).
From Athens we took a very bumpy and windy ferry ride across the Mediterranean ‘pond’ to Kalymnos island, the paradise climbers daydream of. This island is probably the most famous climbing destination in the world and has been on our list of dream destinations for a while. We arrived at the port in the early hours of the morning and crossed the (very hilly) island to the town Armeos, where most of the climbing crags are. We stayed at the Kalymnos Village, where we had a beautiful view from our balcony. Unfortunately, Kalymnos has no campsite and we happened to be there in the busiest two weeks of the year. We ended up spending over our budget but it was completely worth it.
We also happened to be there during the Kalymnos Climbing Festival. A lot of climbers got together in the evening to watch presentations by pro climbers Daniel Woods and Klemen Bečan. We also socialised over music and drinks and got to know a very nice Spanish couple there, Chris and Jorge, who we will hopefully visit in Spain… First we want to do Africa though! As part of the festival, they organised a boat trip to Pserimos, where we got to hike around an (almost) deserted island. While on the boat, we got a chance to watch Klemen Bečan deep water soloing on a overhanging, tufa route… he was so impressive to watch and could possibly be the real Spiderman.
The first routes in Kalymnos were only bolted in 1997 but there has been an explosive development since then. The climbing is varied and you can get overhanging tufa caves next to technical walls or juggy face climbing or slabs. There’s something for everyone. The most impressive sectors for us were Grande Grotta, Arginonta, Ghost Kitchen, Spartacus and Dolphin Bay.
Grande Grotta is the most famous sector in Kalymnos. It is a massive cave full of tufas. One of the lines, a 7a called ‘DNA’, is one of the most famous routes on the island; a pump fest that will have you shaking at the top, when you finally reach a good rest position. There is also a beautiful 6a+, ‘Monahiki Elia’ on the right of the cave, which has massive juggy tufas all the way up. On the right of Grande Grotta is the wall Panorama, where there is a scary but great 7b+ called ‘Carpe Diem’. This route mentally screws with your head because of the exposure but there are some great features to climb around and where else can you stand on a massive tufa platform while looking out over the sea?
Arginonta, also called the ‘6b wall’, is another great crag with fun, quality routes. We enjoyed climbing this wall left to right, finishing all the lines that were free and we really enjoyed what the red rock had to offer.
Ghost Kitchen was one of our absolute favourite sectors – a tufa wonderland next to a technical wall. The routes ‘Dafni’, ‘Loli’, ‘Pirates of Kalymnos’ and ‘Baldwin’ are all fantastic routes. Spartacus is another sector with a technical wall next to a tufa cave that has great routes including ‘Les Amazones’ and ‘Harakiri’. Another completely different crag was Dolphin Bay, where you can climb right next to the sea on white marble rock. The sector has easier and beautiful routes and is a very different experience. All the sectors we climbed at had incredible views of the Aegean sea and Telendos Island, which was just the cherry on top.
We not only used our arms while in Kalymnos but we still gave our legs a workout because this island is very hilly! People told us that they even had problems going over one of the steep mountain passes to the other sectors with their scooters, so we decided against it with the bicycles. We said we’ll leave some of the island unexplored until we go back next time (with a scooter)!
After beating up our skin, we finally decided to move on to Turkey but not before feeling a magnitude 4 earthquake. The ground shook quite a bit but nothing was damaged. We took a ferry to the port Mastichari on Kos island and cycled along the island to the port of Kos city. From there we took a ferry to Bodrum, Turkey – our last frontier before Africa.