Kalymnos, the climbing paradise; sun, sea, sand, and a whole lot of climbing! This became the unplanned second destination on my gap year after I was invited to go there by the bombing bastards Phil and Babsi, who I met in Ceuse.
I’m going to refrain from having a rant about the grades in Kalymnos, because that seems to be the topic of a lot of the climbing there, so one more rant isn’t going to help, all I’ll say is that its a fairly new destination on the scale of things and, looking at older and more up-to-date guide books, the accuracy of the grading seems to be improving. End of. I think…
Anyway, I’d planned for this trip to be an onsighting trip. One, because I’d failed to reach my onsight goal of 7c+ in Ceuse (although I got quite close!), and two, because I figured that the style of climbing in Kalymnos was well suited to onsighting.
Things never really go to plan do they? Don’t get me wrong, I did a far bit of onsighting, but I may have got stuck into a project. Gaia, to be exact. This one turned into quite an epic for me. Well, not an epic by some peoples standards, and definitely not an alpine, death-filled, risk your life and laugh about it afterwards, kind of epic. But it certainly took some effort. There was even some uncertainty, which is something I’d never really experienced before. Maybe I haven’t been trying hard enough? But in the past I’d always known from fairly near the beginning that I would do the route/problem if I gave it some beans. At first I thought the same about Gaia, if anything I underestimated it – big mistake. Gaia is, as the guide says, ‘the definition of power endurance on pockets’, it’s about 17 moves of ‘trickyness’, for want of a better word. I ended up chalking up once, and slapped a chalk covered leg a couple times for good measure, and skipped 4 clips on a c.20m route, in order to be able to link it. Maybe my power endurance is just dire…
Looking back, I think it was possible to do it from go 5, but it took a LOT more than that. And then it got worse, I stopped. or almost stopped, believing I could do it in the trip. To me this would have been the biggest failing of my climbing ‘career’, also for want of a better word, so far. That made me worry. Then I decided I would do it, and that it was almost all that mattered because I wasn’t that bothered about any other routes at the time. The eleventh hour was drawing near, so I did a bit of an ‘eleventh hour gambit’, as it were, and took a double rest day. It meant missing 3 or 4 attempts at it, but it would hopefully mean I’d have more beans. And I needed many beans for this.
Double rest days, especially when you’re tired or a bit burnt out (like I was), can turn you temporarily into some kind of climbing God. Not literally, but you get the idea. Basically I felt freaking good, and the belief was back! Unfortunately the wind was not. It was shit conditions yet again (and that is something I would very much like to rant about but this blog would go on and on and on, and there’s already too much to say, so I wont. Much), no wind and a lot of humidity. Quality conditions. Not to be discouraged though, I found a couple little tweaks in my sequence which certainly helped, then sketched my way up to the chains at long last. After this there were a couple other routes in the pipeline waiting to be finished off, so me and Will had a bit of a multi-crag day to try and finish them. Next up was Helios, 8a, which we hadn’t actually tried but which is sort of on the way down from Odyssey. Then after that we slogged up to the Grande Grotte and I did Punto Caramelo, 8a+. Then I was a bit cocky and tried to go for a 4th 8 in a day, Daniboy, and just punted massively. Double rest day beans = used up.
Anyway, back to the onsighting! Forgot about that. So, the goal was to do a 7c+ onsight, and to make a long story short I did eventually. I got close a couple times, even on Orion, which is bouldery as hell. Then we went to Sikati Cave and I broke the barrier by getting a couple done in a day. PSYCHED!
There’s so much more I’d like to write about: the horrible, barren, scorched landscape, which is, when I think about it, one of the things other than the conditions which I really didn’t like very much. All the other sectors we visited, ‘zooming’ round on a piss poor slow scooter which could barely get up hills (getting to Sikati Cave was actually an epic, and getting back was almost as bad when it wouldn’t start!), the terrible climbing conditions (although they were good once or twice), the company, getting stung by a big, scary red wasp which made my ankle swell up a fair bit… I could go on, but since most of you will have found a more interesting blog to read/kettle to watch boil, I wont.
Finally, I think I’d definitely consider going back to Kaly again, although certainly at a different time of year, and with more mosquito repellent!