Athens climbing in Greece
Giorgos Chaziris introduces the rock climbing around Athens, Greece.
Athens, the capital of Greece hardly evokes the image of a climbing paradise. Most people know the city either as a busy metropolis or as a place of ancient history, monuments and mass tourism. Climbing visitors seldom spend more than a day in the city, on their way to the world-famous Kalymnos.
Unbeknown to most, the bustling capital of Greece has an amazing concentration of crags of the highest quality waiting to be found and appreciated by more people. Amazingly, no less than 33 limestone and marble crags and more than 1100 sport routes can be accessed in less than 1 hour drive from the city center. Adding the three multi-pitch cliffs with trad routes ranging between 80 and 150m high, various bouldering spots, and deep water soloing opportunities, the real question is how Athens remained under the climbing radar for so long.
One reason for the low international profile of Athens climbing was the absence of a concise and easy to get guidebook. This situation changed in early 2014 with the publication of the Athens Climbing Guidebook, a modern 272 pages full color book containing information about the best 33 sport crags in the city
Choosing between the numerous top quality crags can be really hard, but to get a first taste some of the most interesting places are presented below. These crags only scratch the surface of climbing around the city where popular well bolted cliffs with routes and grades for everyone go hand to hand with hardcore crags for the fanatic elite.
Tufa climbing that made Kalymnos famous worldwide has a strong presence in Athens. In fact the Athens’ best sport climbing crags can rival those of Kalymnos’ in tufa climbing goodness. Undisputed king among the tufa kingdoms of Athens is the lost world of Mavrosouvala, a totally otherworldly place of exquisite climbing beauty.
Tufas might be the hype of the era but the true uniqueness of Athens climbing certainly lies on its 2000+ year old man-made marble quarries where the ancient extraction scars are still visible. Apart from its antiquity, marble climbing is very unique in its climbing kinesiology, forming an exceptional mental and physical challenge. Spilia Daveli (Daveli’s Cave) is the best place to taste marble climbing in a special setting.
Seaside climbing holds a special place in Athens. Few in number but tending to bring together perfectly the combination of a tough summer climbing followed by a head first dive into the crystal blue waters of the Aegean. The seaside crags of Kakia Thalassa and Daskaleio are known for their long and beautiful routes.
Check out the brand new Athens Climbing Guidebook for more. You will probably start considering to extend your stay in Athens on your next vacation to Greece!
by Giorgos Chaziri